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Miniature Horses/training minis


Is there any difference in training minis to big horses? I have two horses that I successfully use a natural horsemanship style with- heavily influenced by Clinton Anderson and others. I just adopted two minis that have had little training, and one has had little human contact. They are 3 yr old stallions (soon to be geldings!). We tried to work with them like the big horses, but they got very scared and stopped responding. Are they more sensitive? Or is it just these particular minis?( They were rescues and may have been abused). Any suggestions? Thanks!

There are really two answers to this...  The first is, yes, you can use exactly the same style/program with the minis.  THat being said, you will find that because of their size, they can be much quicker and wirey and that makes some of the groundwork a bit more challenging.  However, if you just go slow and modify your actions a bit, you will be fine.  An example would be when swinging your whip to desensitize, start out much  smaller motion and lower to the ground.  Doing this in the same fashion you would with a big horse is a very large movement with a mini.  As far as their  manners, lunging, roundpenning, there really is not any difference.

I really appreciate your asking this as I too often see people with very disrespectful minis.  My question to them is always - would this behavior be acceptable if this were a big horse?  THe  answer should be no, so therefore, we should expect the same good manners and behavior from the minis and work toward that with their training.

I have some excellent training video and manuals on my website called Phase 1 & 2 training.  Also, my HorseTrix TV series has an episode devoted to minis.  When you are on, go to 'tv episodes' and watch episode 4.

I feel the need to interject here on your comment that "they may have been abused".  At this point, I feel too often people say this about their animals in speculation.  Any horse that has had 'little training and/or contact with humans' will certainly have a fearful approach to this.  They are prey animals and have an instinct to protect themselves from predators, which they initially view us as.  That is why we start out with the basics.  Allow the horse to get to know us AND trust us.  This does not mean we beg or coddle them.  It means we stand firm to the rules for their manners and behavior, do not let them off the hook, set the bar high, and praise them when they do the right thing.  You will also need to let them know when they misbehave such as pinning ears, biting, kicking, etc.  A very stern, loud "NO or QUIT" immediately, and if needed a swat with your hand or a crop.  Yes they are little, but they can still hurt you.  Mini stallions are notorious for bad behavior!

I hope this helps. Please keep me posted.
Heidi Herriott

Miniature Horses

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Heidi Herriott


I am a professional horse trainer and entertainer specializing in trick horse training, performing with horses, and miniature horses. I can answer questions about traveling, training, trick training, general feed and care.


Heidi Herriott is proud to be a third generation performer, animal trainer and lover, and animal welfare advocate. Her career has taken her throughout North and South America. As a child, she traveled and performed with her famous circus family, and with various circuses including Ringling Bros., and as an adult continuing the family tradition. Heidi performs with her horses, as a circus ringmaster, animal trainer and presenter, and circus and special event producer. Heidi loves training, traveling and performing with her animals! Heidi has presented and/or trained a variety of animals throughout North America training. including horses, mules, elephants, camels, llamas, pigs, dogs, cats, goats, zebra, and more. Venues included fairs, theme parks, circuses, zoos, television productions, game shows, dinner theatres, horse shows, rodeos and special events. Role included all aspects of animal care and management including transporting, program for care, housing, nutrition, permitting and regulatory issues, as well as training and presenting.;

International Association of Fairs and Expositions Outdoor Amusement Business Association Florida Federation of Fairs

my website;; More magazine; USDA Animal Care guidelines; Showtime Magazine; The Faircracker; Fairs and Expos

My experience lies in my lifetime of hands on dealing with all types of animals, specializing in miniatures.;;

Awards and Honors
Pet Star Winner with a mini trick horse silver and bronze medals and the Sarasota Circus Festival Guest MC - Ringling Museum of the Circus

Past/Present Clients
Heidi and her horses have been featured performers at, trained for, and/or collaborated with the following companies: Ringling Bros. Circus, Down Under Horsemanship, Lynn Palm's Women Luv Horses, Mississippi State Fair, Missiouri State Fair, Champlain Valley Exposition, NC State Championship Horse Show, International Andalusian Alliance, Animal Planet, Pet Star Show winner season 3, Nickelodeon Studios, Walt Disney World, Southwick Zoo, Arabian Nights Orlando, Diamond S Rodeo and Wild West Show, Six Flags Theme Parks,

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