The Santa Ynez Valley is a picturesque, rural part of Santa Barbara County that is comprised of several small cities, including the Danish themed Solvang. The area has long been a favorite for visitors to the Santa Barbara area. In addition to the numerous, highly regarded wineries that dot the area, there are a number of places that children greatly enjoy visiting. One of these is the Quicksilver Ranch, a popular tourist spot just outside of Solvang that breeds and sells miniature horses. This singular horse farm has drawn visitors from as far away as New Zealand.
Miniature horses are diminutive creatures that are smaller than ponies. They are members of a recognized breed according to staff member Maria Arias. She described how miniature horses were originally bred in the 1700s to be pets for royalty in Europe. They became popular enough in the United States that an association was founded in the 1970s.
Unlike most other breeds of horses, these miniature horses are comprised of a mixture of colors—a “real fun breed,” according to Arias. They all have their own personality, but most are pretty laid back.
Miniature Horse Babies in the Spring
The tiny babies of the miniature horses are the biggest draw for visitors of this charming farm. The 25-30 foals produced each year are born in the late spring. The babies are handled a lot, so the animals are extremely socialized by the time they grow old enough to be weaned from their mothers. “The little ones are pretty special; it’s more like therapy coming to work” according to Arias. The horses are weaned at four and a half months of age. They are almost as tall as the adults at 6-7 months.
This special farm is located at 1555 Alamo Pintado Road and is open to the public every day but Thanksgiving and Christmas. It is free to view the horses, but donations for their care are welcome. Group tours of seniors can be arranged by appointment for $3/person. Such tours are informational only. If they are lucky, visitors to this farm will get to pet a horse. For safety reasons, they are not allowed to romp in the pens with the horses, though.
Miniature Horses as Pets
Quicksilver Farms sells the foals that are produced by the farm. Despite the temptation to keep such a delightful creature in one’s back yard, this is not permitted in California. They must be kept in an area specifically zoned for horses. Arias said that 90% of the horses that are purchased from Quicksilver Farm leave in the back of a van or SUV and that they are mostly kept as pets and dressed up in Christmas or Halloween costumes.