A mini attraction
Visitors to Mantorville’s Stagecoach Days got an extra bonus Saturday afternoon when a pair of mini-horses showed up for a surprise visit.
Bruce Ebnet of West Concord dazzled spectators with his mini-horses in between the draft horse pull. The mini-horses weren’t actually a part of the competition, but rather as a side show. “They have never pulled before,” he said.
Ebnet started his team of minis with 1,400 pounds to pull. Near the end of the show, Ebnet jumped on the pull with his full body, increasing the pull to 1,650. After a little coaxing and yelling, the minis chugged with all their might and pulled the entire weight. They were pulling twice their body weight of 350 pounds.
The horse enthusiast is kind of living out a childhood dream. He grew up on a farm, but never had the chance to have any horses. “Dad said they were too much trouble,” he recalls. He took on the minis in 2008. He currently has four minis and nine horses.
He became hooked on the miniatures when he attended a mini-horse sale in Plainview after purchasing a farm in 2006. “I just went to look,” he said.
Ebnet takes the minis to parades and festivals throughout southern Minnesota and western Wisconsin during the summer months. He also does winter parades in Waseca and Kenyon. “I get to play with my horses,” said Ebnet, who is president of the Minnesota Miniature Horse Club. “I like to keep people entertained. It’s just a lot of fun.”
Ebnet cautions people to be careful about mistaking miniature horses as ponies. “You don’t call them ponies,” he said. “They are horses.”
Minis, Ebnet said, are good for children and therapy. “They are good with kids,” he noted. “They are calm as all get out. Horses are neat critters. They definitely have a mind of their own.”
He shared a time when he circled around older folks in wheelchairs at a parade in West Concord and allowed them to pet the horses. The horses seem to have a therapeutic effect on people, he said.
“They can do just about everything a big horse can do except on a smaller scale,” Ebnet said. “Minis are easily trained,” he said, adding he’s not afraid to allow young children to drive them whenever possible.
Besides the entertainment value, Ebnet also hopes to get people interested in purchasing a mini. “As soon as you get someone to buy one, it increases the value of all of them,” he said.
Ebnet estimates that he works with the minis about 10 hours every week. “I like to play with them every day,” he says. “I want to get them used to people and amendable to doing things.”
He said he has never met an ornery horse owner. “If you’re an ornery person, you won’t get a long with horses,” Ebnet said. “They can sense it. That’s why they get a long with children better. They don’t have the ornery gene in them yet,” he said.
He will be showing the minis at the Festival in the Park parade in Kasson in early August.