- Special Sections
- Public Notices
BOX: If you have a suggestion for a unique place to visit in Hardin County for this series email email@example.com.
BOX: If you are interested in learning more about miniature horses or owning one call (270) 763-9611 or go to www.samhillfarm.com. The farm is located at 470 Kraft Rd., Rineyville. By BECCA OWSLEY
RINEYVILLE — Miniature horses date back to the court of King Louis XIV of France. They were the pampered pets of the Hapsburgs in England and later became pit ponies in the mines of England and the Americas.
In the second of our mini adventures, photographer Jill Pickett and I found ourselves in the midst of these pint-size horses at Sam Hill Farms in Rineyville.
During our visit, we were joined by a group of preschoolers, many of whom got in line several times to take their turn riding the horses, which were just their size.
In addition to being friendly, the horses also seemed to have an appetite for cameras, as several of them sniffed Jill’s camera and camera bag, perhaps in search of treats.
Farm owner Tina Adams has owned miniature horses since 2002. She always loved horses but no longer physically capable of taking care of the larger breeds. One day she went to Hodgenville in search of flowers, came across the horses and fell in love with them.
That is where she met Angela Hornback, who sold Adams her first horse and recently became her stable manager.
“It’s my dream job to come to work every day and play with horses,” said Hornback, who has worked with miniature horses for 13 years.
To be considered miniature, a horse can be no taller than 38 inches. Horses shorter than 34 inches are considered A class; those that reach between 34 and 38 inches are considered B class. Most of the horses at Sam Hill Farms are in the A class. The smallest horses on the farm stand 29 inches tall.
Miniatures can come in any breed, even draft horses. One of the most famous breeders of miniature horses is the Falabella family of Argentina, which has been breeding the horses since the 1800s. Mostly, that family specializes in Appaloosas.
Miniature horses are the perfect pet, Adams said. She likes them because they are not as needy as dogs but not as independent as cats. They come when you call them and go away when they are told. They can live more than 30 years.
While looking at the Sam Hill Farms horses, I realized many of them are no bigger than my Labrador, Boo. I could strap a saddle on him and he would fit right in.
According to Adams, miniature horses are not considered livestock and can be kept anywhere.
Although it is recommended to keep the horses outdoors, not everyone adheres to that, Hornback said.
She once sold a horse to someone who frequently lets it in the house. In fact, the horse habitually opens the screen door and enters the home to eat popcorn and watch “Charlotte’s Web.” If the owners can’t find the horse, it is usually in their son’s bed.
The horses at Sam Hill Farms are available for sale and show. At a recent show in Greenville, Ohio, the Rineyville minis received the reserve grand prize. Last year, eight of them placed in the top 10 among 1,800 horses in national competition.
The horses also are ambassadors to the community. They will travel to Breyerfest at the Kentucky Horse Park in Lexington later this month and sometimes go to the Kentucky State Fair, when their show schedule permits.
Around town, they have visited residents at Helmwood Healthcare nursing facility and participated in Relay for Life, where they were dressed in circus outfits.
The farm gets few opportunities to take the horses to groups of children or let children come to them as they did the day of our visit. But because of their size and gentleness, the miniatures are perfect for children, particularly those who have never been or rarely are around horses.
The horses also work well with disabled people, allowing them to show them in the ring which is not as easy to do with the bigger horses.
Both Adams and Hornback have a real affection for these small horses and their good temperament.
“How many big horse farms can you go through where they are loose in the yard?” Hornback said.
Becca Owsley can be reached at (270) 505-1741.