Colorful myths abound about the origin of the Miniature horse. Contemporary historians tend to support the breed as a derivative of many sources. In pre-historic times, small horse breeds were likely the products of surviving harsh natural climates and limited feed. Too, with knowledge of genetics, it is possible to breed specifically for size. It is known that, at various times in equine history, Miniature horses have been bred for pets, novelty, research, monetary gain, mining work, exhibition, and royal gifts. In addition to the pre-historic evidence of small equids, it is speculated that the Miniature horse is a result of nearly 400 years of selective breeding of many extracts.
The first mention of a small horse being imported to the United States was in 1888; and it appears, there was little public awareness of true Miniatures during the year preceding 1960. It is believed that the American Miniature horse utilized the blood of the English and Dutch mine horses brought to this country in the 19th century and used in some Appalachian coal mines as late as 1950. The American Miniature horse, as documented in the pedigrees of some Miniatures today, also drew upon the blood of the Shetland pony. In 1962, Julio Cesar Falabella, whose ranch was near Buenos Aires, Argentia, sold some midget ponies to President Kennedy's family, an event that brought instant fame to the Falabella Ranch's colorful and attractive horses.
In 1978, the American Miniature Horse Association, Inc., was organized to aid and encourage the breeding use and perpetuation of the American Miniature horse, separate and apart from ponies and other small equines. According to the AMHA's Rules and Regulations and Bylaws, an animal exceeding 34 inches in height is not eligible for registration with the Association. To date, AMHA has registered over 114,000 Miniature horses.