Pint-sized but proud
Miniature horses to take centre stage at showJAMIE SEARLE
In the South
Thelma Busby has lost count of the number of ribbons her miniature horses have won.
"I've got boxes of them, there would be over 1000," she said.
Horses have been part of Mrs Busby's life for more than 50 years, with the Makarewa resident concentrating on miniatures since the late 1990s.
She is one of 45 members in the Miniature Horse Club of Southland, which was formed in 1997. Ninety percent of members are women.
Three of Mrs Busby's five miniatures are entered for the Winton A&P Show on Saturday. It will be a busy day for her because she is a director of the show and a marshall for the miniatures' section.
As well as Southland shows, competitions for miniatures are held at the Invercargill racecourse, Gore showgrounds and the Makarewa domain. The main event this season is at the Gore showgrounds on February 8-9. The sport's competition season in Southland runs from October to March.
Judging includes the miniatures' grooming, conformation, head, colour, movement, harness, trot and jumping. Handlers are also judged on presentation.
Fifty to 60 miniatures usually take part at Southland shows and are split into two sections - A class, height up to 86.36cm (34 inches) and B class, height up to 96.52cm (38 inches).
The sport doesn't suit some horse lovers, Mrs Busby said.
"It's not everybody's cup of tea. If you're going to do it, you've got to be dedicated."
She restricts her training to four days a week because miniatures sour if they are overworked.
Miniatures have given Mrs Busby and husband Bob a lot of fun.
"It's a good time and money waster," she quipped.
"We don't smoke or drink . . . we spend our money on [miniature] horses."
- Invercargill Eye