Though they stand no more than 34 inches tall, measuring from the last hairs of their mane to the ground, miniature horses had a big day at John Justin Arena.

Miniature horses have been shown at the Fort Worth Stock Show and Rodeo since the early 1980s, but the breed’s history reaches back to 17th century Europe.

“They were bred down from larger horses, and they used them in mines because they could get into the mines easily where big horses couldn’t,” Nancy Braesicke, superintendent for the FWSSR Miniature Show, said. “They really took off in this country in the 1970s and then they became show animals.”

The show included opportunities for exhibitors to show their animals in-hand or compete in driving and roadster divisions where they rode behind their horses in carts. 

It was a family affair for multiple competitors in the arena, including mother and daughter duo Connie and Denise Kennedy.

“We love showing minis,” the elder Kennedy said.

Daughter Denise added: “They’re a lot easier than other horses.”

Another exhibitor, Taryn Murphy, kept her approach for the day simple.

“I mostly just go out and have fun,” she said. “It sounds cliche, but I just try to do better than last time.”

Marcheta Fornoff covers the arts for the Fort Worth Report. Contact her at or on Twitter. At the Fort Worth Report, news decisions are made independently of our board members and financial supporters. Read more about our editorial independence policy here.

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Marcheta FornoffArts & Culture Editor

For just over seven years Marcheta Fornoff performed the high wire act of producing a live morning news program on Minnesota Public Radio. She led a small, but nimble team to cover everything from politics...