Little America: One family’s journey to breed the world’s smallest horse

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By: Lauren Giudice, Lily Morris and Joshua Fechter

For over 50 years, Tony Greaves has been raising miniature horses. His love for horses began when he was young boy. His father raised Shetland ponies and horses.

Greaves and his family now own Little America Miniature Horses. He and his wife, Carol, live on their 200-acre ranch in Buda, TX. The two raise miniature horses to sell them or show them.

The number of horses they have varies, but they currently have 170 miniature horses. Greaves said miniature horses are created through selective breeding.

“When I first started 36 inches was considered little,” Greaves said. “I would pick a mare and a stallion and hope that their baby would be smaller. I also want every generation to be better. I look at the good points and the bad points of the horse. If the mare has bad legs I want to make sure I breed her to a stallion who has good legs.”

Bloodlines, color and size determine the price of the horses. The smaller the horse, the more expensive they are. Prices of Greaves’ horses range between $500-$50,000. Horses that are sold as pets are less expensive than those purchased for the purpose of showing or breeding.

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People who show horses seek out the bloodlines of Greaves’ horses.

“They want my bloodlines to put in their line,” Greaves said. “I’ve been doing it for so long and I’ve gotten them so small that people who really want to breed small want a small stallion. Usually people have larger mares and breed them with a smaller stallion. But I have such a large group of little mares that I get more little babies.”

Greaves said many people confuse miniature horses with ponies. But, Shetland ponies are up to 48 inches tall and miniature horses are 34 inches or smaller. He prides himself on the fact that all of his horses are under 34 inches and 80 of them are under 30 inches.

Little America is known around the world and Greaves has sold horses to people in Russia, Australia, Scotland, Belgium and France.

The Internet has revolutionized how Greaves does business. He said 60 percent of the horses that he’s sold over the past five years have been purchased over the Internet.

Greaves’ goal has always been to raise a herd of 22-inch miniature horses. Recently, he bred a 24-inch horse named Fan Man. Greaves still aims to breed that perfect tiny herd.

“As far as I am concerned, the object of breeding any miniature animal is to breed the smallest, good confirmation animal that you can get,” Greaves said. “My goal is to breed the smallest perfect horse.”

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