Miniature Horses Put on Big Show in Fort Worth

A big show is taking place at the Will Rogers Memorial Center this week, featuring some of the smallest animal competitors. It's a unique event that's a mix of horse and dog agility shows.

There are jumps, judges and just rewards as the John Justin Arena looks like any other horse show, except these horses are miniatures.

"Our slogan is that the miniature horse is the horse for everyone," said Laura Mullen, world show manager for the American Miniature Horse Association.

The American Miniature Horse Association World Championship Show is an 11 day event that ends this coming Saturday.

On Wednesday, competitors put on quite the show as class 114 soared to impressive heights given their diminutive stature.

"Some of those jumps I'm sure were 40-inches high," said Daniel Crider of Sunset Mountain Miniature Horses.

For some, it was a tall order that came crashing down through four rounds of competition.

While most show events are subjective with judges picking winners, the Jumpers Open Show is all about who can leap the highest without knocking over jumps.

On this day, it was "Larry", a 30-inch tall, 13-year-old, from southern Palo Pinto County who took home the top prize. Larry, and owner Crider, are now nine time world champs.

"He is our most famous horse by far he's the one who's put us on the map," Crider said. "We're thrilled to death to have him."

Crider said Larry has fans all across the world, he even has his own Facebook page and his videos have thousands of views on YouTube, as well.

But Larry, the shortest competitor in the jumping contest, had some stiff competition. While one of the favorites bowed out early, he went head-to-head with "Iona Excalibur" for a sixth time, defeating him for just the second time according to Iona Excalibur's owners.

"He's also fueled by Gatorade," said Ashley Harris, of Versatility Training Center in Brookville, Ohio. 'I had it for me and he kept pestering me wanting to drink it. So, I put the bottle down and he wraps his tongue around it and sucks it out."

Iona Excalibur isn't a newbie to this competition or jumping, as he's 20-years-old. Most miniature horses can live to be 30 years of age, some as old as 50.

"He surprises most people, but I'm not surprised, he loves to do it," Harris said. "And everybody asks me when he's going to retire and I tell them, 'when he tells me he's ready.'"

Age doesn't matter in any of the show events, just height. Miniature horses max out at 34 inches for this competition.

Tony Greaves of Little America Miniature Horses in Buda, Texas has been showing at the competition for decades. There are 600 competitors in 2015, but Greaves said a decade ago that number was twice as large.

"We would have 1,200 horses here, but there’s a lot of competition and we’re hoping to build it back up," Greaves said.

And with performances like the one put on Wednesday morning, organizers and participants hope more people will get hooked on miniature horses.

"It's like potato chips, once you get one miniature you can't have just one, you get multiples," Mullen said.

The world championship show continues through Saturday at the John Justin Arena. Admission is free, but you do have to pay for parking.

The AMHA is headquartered in Alvarado.

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