Alternative Pets: Horses and Donkeys
Excerpt from Austin American-Statesman article by Esther Robards-Forbes
January 18, 2013
Just outside Buda, Tony Greaves raises some of the smallest horses in the world. There’s also a handful of tiny donkeys and one accidental tiny mule.
Greaves has been raising miniature horses for fifty years and runs Little America Miniature Horses (www.littleamericaminis.com). He started with horses that stood 36 inches at the shoulder. Through selective breeding, he’s gotten some as small as 25 inches. His dream is a horse that is only 22 inches tall.
“Growing up, I always liked the smallest ones,” he said.
Miniature horses make great pets, and many of the ones he sells to city-dwellers are used for therapy animals, going to visit hospitals, hospice care and troubled youth. Their gentle demeanors and fuzzy bodies make it hard to resist petting them.
“People love them as pets,” Greaves said. “In fact, a lot of people end up getting another one because they like to see them playing together.”
Miniature horses are easy to handle because of their size and make great pets for children and the elderly.
“Our motto is, it’s the horse for everyone,” Greaves said.
Price: Greaves’s horses start around $500 and average about $3,000.
Life expectancy: 20-30 years
Equipment: Large backyard, shelter to keep out of the sun and rain, brushes and combs.
Diet: Horse feed and hay
Upsides: Fertilizer and short lawn
Potential pitfalls: Find a large animal veterinarian early because they can be hard to find.