The horses in Bernie Hodgson’s barn are a lot smaller than the ones he had a few years ago but they’ve got just as much attitude.
Hodgson, who used to show Percherons, now has a team of miniature horses.
“I’ve had a lot of fun over the past few years with them,” said the North River resident. “I’ve had this pair eight years and they can be a handful.
“I enjoy exhibitions and shows, and when you’re having a bad day you can go out to them and they listen. They’ll be your best friend.”
Hodgson got his first miniature horse about 19 years ago. He then got a second and showed them as a team. He enjoyed it but, because of health reasons he had to sell them. Once his health recovered he decided he needed horses again, and he bought two geldings, who are brothers, from Manitoba. He always shows them as a team but has a single cart he sometimes uses at home.
He sometimes misses having Percherons but notes there are several benefits to the smaller horses.
“They don’t cost as much to feed and there’s less manure,” he said. “They still need the same things, except for shoes. The miniatures go barefoot.
“A lot of people get into miniatures when they’re older, because of their health or they’re downsizing in space.”
Pat Sheehy, of Stewiacke, used to show Hackneys across Ontario in the US, but she now shows miniatures.
“They’re still a horse and need the same work as any horse,” she said. “They all have different quirks, but in the long run they’re much easier than a big horse.
“They’re not as tall to work with, don’t need as much hay, and the harness is smaller and lighter.”
It was when she judged a show with a large miniature class that Sheehy became interested in getting one of the small horses.
“I saw some I really liked so I looked into it more,” she recalled. “I called a friend who showed all greys and he had a young mare he was willing to sell.
“I just planned to play with her, but I heard the miniature group was having classes at an exhibition, so I entered. I did well and then bought another.
She shows her mare, Mindy, in pleasure classes and her gelding, Hail, in roadster.
“They have strong attitudes and can be headstrong,” she said. “Not all miniatures are suitable for the first-time horse person. Some people think because they’re small they’re easy to handle, but that’s not always the case.”
Sheehy still has two Hackneys, who have retired from the show ring.
“I started riding when I was about three and I’ve always enjoyed being around horses,” she said. “You can have bad day and go to barn and you feel so much better.”
Sheehy and Hodgson will be showing their horses at the Hub Town show in Bible Hill on Saturday, Aug. 10.
Hub Town Show
When: Aug. 10 – beginning at 9 a.m. and running all day
Where: Outdoor ring at the NSPE grounds, Ryland Ave., Bible Hill
Canteen facilities and washroom available