They may be small and cute, but miniature horses require as much care as large-breed horses.
Animal rescuer Katrina Thompson has witnessed what happens when that care fails.
She's seen miniature horses with holes in their faces from festering abscesses.
Katrina has noticed an increase in the amount of miniature horses throughout the Bay of Plenty and Waikato that need care and rehoming.
And sadly, when they come to her, many of them require urgent veterinarian attention.
Katrina is a kind soul who loves animals — dogs, cats, rabbits all the way up to goats, calves and horses. She has been involved in rescuing animals, taking care of them and rehoming for more than a decade.
She lives on a farm just outside Tauranga and is affiliated with Tauranga Animal Rescue along with Eva Tate, who was featured a few weeks ago in the Bay News. Katrina mostly takes in bull breed and working dogs and the bigger animals like sheep, calves and goats. Of late, miniature horses are in her care.
She has taken in nine miniature horses and two dogs from the same owner. There were 14 in total, and some had to be put down.
The owner became ill. After consultation with the family and veterinarians, Katrina took over the care of the animals including necessary vet care and she is in the process of finding good homes for them.
''In this case, this lovely lady got sick and her family were left with this huge overwhelming responsibility, as well as coping with her sickness.''
Half the problem is, miniature horses are easy to breed but some people don't think about where they may end up, she says.
''For example if you have two acres you can have one large breed horse. With miniatures some people could have eight there. I use to breed miniature horses myself but never to a number that I couldn't manage.
''People need to think twice about the number of horses they are breeding and where those horses are going to be in a few years time.''
Katrina guesses she has being involved in approximately 30 miniature horse rescues throughout the region and Waikato.
The cute little horses are currently being rehomed. Katrina says there is some demand for them but they need to find the right home.
''There's a few things to consider — people sometimes fail to add in the nutrition they need with their feed. That results in problems with their feet breaking down, coat problems, muscle wastage and a general overall health decline.''
Their feet and teeth need regular attention (miniature horses have the same number of teeth as large-breed horses) but sadly some miniature owners don't do any of that, she says.
''That's the problem when you have this number of horses it's difficult to make sure they are getting the care they need.''
Sometimes buying a miniature horse is no more than a novelty for some.
"It can be a phase, they want them for their kids to ride. True miniatures are breed to show and they shouldn't really have children on them.''
Tauranga Animal Rescue rely on donations and support from veterinarians and friends. The horses adoption fee is $250 to cover some of the costs. Contact them via Facebook.
Tauranga Animal Rescue is becoming a registered charity.