Charlie and Zoe Taylor, and their son Josh, own and manage a horse stud on the outskirts of Maleny. Unlike a standard horse stud, this one is for miniature horses. Writer, Jacqui Hensel, recently went to meet the family and their small, but perfectly formed, companions.
By Jacqui Hensel
Up until 2010, Charlie and Zoe remained unaware that their true calling was just around the corner. It was then that they moved to a property in Malanda, far North Queensland, that had a couple of miniature horse mares who were in foal. This was fortuitous, as the Taylors became the breed’s biggest fans and have chosen to base their work around improving the breed.
A miniature horse is defined as an animal that measures, at maturity, 34 inches or under at the wither, and is horse-type, not pony-type.
“There is a breed standard that should be met in many points when breeding and assessing a miniature horse. Confirmation is most important,” explains Zoe.
“Since then we have researched and bred and improved our bloodlines with some of the finest lines from America. We are seeing results in the show ring where our horses are taking out awards at shows such as the AMHA (American Miniature Horse Association) and the IMHR (Independent Miniature Horse Registry – an Australian Association),” Charlie says, “it’s all about quality bloodlines and most importantly, depth of breeding.”
Depth of breeding is a subject that Charlie and Zoe are both passionate about and it feels as though we could talk about it all day.
“We had purchased some Australian horses, but then we decided we needed more modern genetics and we imported some American stock. Importing itself is a pretty expensive exercise, so we selected horses with great depth of breeding,” explains Charlie.
According to Charlie and Zoe, a good mare and good stallion, that are both well above average with depth of breeding, will produce an outstanding foal.
“Mare power can’t be underestimated; it is crucial for a successful outcome,” Charlie says.
“The little mare we own called Treasure was purchased as a day-old filly and she is now a World Grand Champion. We didn’t buy her because of ribbons or prizes, but because of her parent’s pedigree,” Zoe shares.
It’s not all about breeding though, according to Zoe. “While in the US we have sent our horses to trainers and let them go to shows because we thought it would be good for the horses to have something to do, before they go to be bred. They are intelligent animals and like to be stimulated.
“While we consider ourselves to be breeders, we are learning how to show,” Zoe laughs. “We want to have a little bit of fun with the horses too, and attending horse shows is also a chance to see how our breeding program is going by seeing what other breeders are producing.”
The Taylors presently have horses who are Grand Champions in Harness, and multiple Futurity winners from the AMAH World Show in Fort Worth Texas, USA, plus Grand Champions and Supreme Title winners in Australia at state shows held at Caboolture and at the national level at Tamworth NSW. There are many country shows that have Miniature Horse Classes, including Maleny.
The miniature horse can be trained to harness and will happily pull a full-size adult in a buggy. Apart from driving classes, the usual classes are Halter (a led class), Liberty (an off-lead class) and Hunter (led obstacle class).
The Taylors left Malanda and came back to Maleny around 2014, where they have since built the stud and their home.
“Everything in the shed is built specifically for the comfort of the miniature horses. The stalls are lower so they can see each other,” Zoe smiles.
“The horses like to see each other as they are social, herd animals and they like to be together.
“We like happy animals, because happy animals are healthy animals. And they are out in the fields all day. The barn is a good tool to have for show horses as we can keep them in at night or when the mares are foaling; or even if the weather is bad.”
I am intrigued to find out why anyone would have a miniature horse as a pet. But according to Zoe and Charlie they are great pets, who are curious and keen to be friends.
“They will follow you around like a dog,” Charlie laughs, “although they are horses and have to be treated the same way you would treat a horse.
“They need grooming, hoof care, worming and vaccination regimes and good nutrition, to maintain a high standard of health. We have also found that they are better in a herd environment of two or more horses as they enjoy each other’s company.”
I am happily taken to see Jade, a Pinto mare with a foal at foot who has two imported parents. She is cuteness in overdrive with a tiny, fluffy mane and tail. While wary, she trots proudly at her mum’s side, showing off her pretty bay coat and beautiful movement.
In the next paddock are three mares and their foals. These foals are a couple of months old and have developed their own personalities. They are keen to be petted and compete for attention from Zoe, Charlie and Josh.
Charlie and Zoe along with their son Josh, have clearly found their passion project. They spend their days looking after the horses and cattle and showing potential new horse owners through their impressive establishment. With a heavenly location on the outskirts of Maleny, they are truly living their dream.
If you would like to find out more about miniature horses or possibly add a miniature horse to your family, email Zoe Taylor at email@example.com