Tiniest Horse With Dwarfism Doesn't Care That He's A Little Different
He was so small when he was rescued that he had to ride on someone's lap on the drive home.
Munchie is different than most of the horses at Habitat for Horses, a sanctuary in Hitchcock, Texas. The average horse there is about 5 or 6 feet tall. Munchie, on the other hand, rises 21 inches off the ground, which is less than 2 feet.
But Munchie’s size has never affected his confidence.
“It’s like he doesn’t notice how big they [the other horses] are or care how big they are,” Amber Barnes, adoption and media specialist for Habitat for Horses, told The Dodo. “He’s just kind of like, ‘So what you’re big? Whatever.’”
Before Munchie came to live at Habitat for Horses 11 years ago, he was living in a state of neglect on a property in San Antonio.
“He was about 2 months old when we rescued him,” Barnes said. “He came in with a family of smaller miniature horses and also larger horses. It was a very large cruelty seizure case in San Antonio. There were actually several horses who had died that were on the property when we got there. So it’s a sad case.”
After police officers seized the animals, most of them went to live at Habitat for Horses, including Munchie and his mini horse mom, Melanie.
“Because he was so small, he was driven from the rescue [site] on somebody’s lap in the front seat of a truck,” Barnes said. “He was itty bitty. Like a tiny dog in your lap.”
When the sanctuary team got a good look at Munchie, they realized he wasn’t an ordinary mini horse — he was a mini horse with dwarfism. Sadly, dwarfism is a common issue seen among mini horses, since they are sometimes inbred by negligent owners, Barnes explained.
“There’s structural differences [as a result] … and this can often lead to health problems,” Barnes said. “It can even be fatal.”
Thankfully, Munchie is relatively healthy, although he does have a curved “roach” back and an underbite. “It’s actually pretty cute when he looks at you and he licks his lips,” Barnes said.
He also has a bulging tummy because of his dwarfism. “He has a big potbelly because a lot of his organs are regular sized — not all of them, but they’re bigger than what would make sense in a horse his size,” she said.
But none of these things seem to affect Munchie’s quality of life, according to Barnes. Like the other animals at the sanctuary, Munchie spends his days eating, napping and exploring his pasture. In Munchie’s case, he shares a pasture with four other mini horses, including Gizmo, who also has dwarfism, as well as goats and a pig.
Munchie also takes every opportunity for a good pampering session. “Munchie loves being groomed, so he likes getting his hair brushed out and braided,” Barnes said.
But there’s more to Munchie than naps and grooming — he’s the official sanctuary ambassador, and goes to schools and libraries to teach children about horses and animal welfare. “When we talk about Munchie, we tell his story and talk about the plight of other horses,” Barnes said. “He’s a good example.”
He also visits nursing homes.
And whenever he gets the chance, Munchie will show the larger horses that he’s not afraid of them — although they’re often afraid of Munchie, according to Barnes.
“They’ll be right nearby, and he’s like, ‘Yeah, yeah, give me my hay. Where are my carrots? I’m not worried about you,’” Barnes said. “But you’ll have the same giant horse look at Munchie and get kind of startled and not know what to do. It’s kind of amusing.”
But Munchie doesn’t seem to relish in his ability to frighten the big horses — he just seems happy being himself. “Munchie is a funny little guy,” Barnes said. “He’s a sweet, laid-back little dude.”