What is the Smallest Horse in the World?

What is the smallest horse in the world? Up until this year, the world’s smallest horse was officially Thumbelina, a tiny miniature horse, also known as a mini. She was born on May 1st in 2001 and in 2007 was officially recognized by the Guinness Book of Records as being the smallest horse in the world, which at only 17.5 inches tall and weighing 57 pounds, that is tiny compared to most horses!

But it looks like a usurper has now stolen Thumbelina’s title of the World’s Smallest Horse. On 28th April 2010, a tiny little pinto foal named Einstein was born at the rather appropriately named Tiz A Miniature horse farm in New Hampshire, United States. His owners were extremely confident that his vital statistics of 14 inches height and 6Ib weight would indeed win him the kudos of being the tiniest horse in the world.

And unlike Thumbelina, Einstein is not a dwarf! His co-owner, Rachel Wagner, claimed he was instead a tiny version of a proper horse, rather than a victim of dwarfism syndrome. There was even a film clip of cute little Einstein posted on YouTube so that people could see him gambolling around in the paddock while the sheep looked on in bemusement. Actually, I’m joking—there were no sheep! But if there had been, no doubt they would have been fairly confused.

What is the smallest horse in the world prior to Thumbelina?

Before the legendary Thumbelina became a media phenomenon and toured the world, Back Beauty held the record of the World’s Smallest Horse. She was listed in the Guinness World Records from September 2001 until 2007. At five years old, she measured 18.5 inches tall and, like Thumbelina, was classed as a dwarf miniature horse. According to her owners, Black Beauty lists her interests as “eating popcorn and watching westerns on television”.

Unsurprisingly, since the revelation of Einstein the pocket pony’s birth, many critics have questioned the ethics of breeding animals for their size, and more specifically selectively breeding them to be as small as possible. Horses are not meant to be small enough to fit into the average shopping bag, so it is debateable what kind of life a miniature horse like Einstein can ever hope to have. If he ends up being paraded around for the delight of the world’s media, it does seem morally wrong to have created an animal purely for the purposes of showing it off.

Worse yet, if geneticists have their way, Einstein will not he holding his world record for very much longer as the race to create ever tinier horses is already on. Equine geneticist, Samantha Brooks of Cornell University, has been studying the genomics of horses and says there may be no limit to how tiny we can make our horses, which is a rather scary prospect.

But until the geneticists fully understand just what is behind the size variations in horses, we remain no closer to understanding what made Einstein the World’s Smallest Horse quite so small.

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