The weight-loss journey of these two miniature horses

These adorable equine rascals have had a tough time of it, not least because they both eat like, well... a horse! Now they’re being readied for new pastures

Like anyone beginning a weight-loss journey, there’s usually one delicious treat that proves too difficult to give up. For miniature horses Rosie and Max, it’s peaches: the lure of the fragrant, juicy fruit often proves too strong to resist.

“The peach tree isn’t good for their waistlines. But Rosie, especially, is obsessed with peaches,” laughs Sarah Bates, who lives with the two horses on her Helensville property, just north of Auckland.

In fact, the tiny brunette filly – who is 80 centimetres tall and her longtime companion Max, 91cm – has even been known to climb the stack of wood under the peach tree near her paddock to wrap her chops around her favourite treat.

Thanks to Sarah and her two friends Amber Quinnell and Emily Bush, Rosie and Max are currently getting a whole new lease on life – including new, more slender waistlines!

‘They honestly think they can just go inside her house and just sit on the couch’

The three friends became aware of the tiny twosome last year, when they still lived with their previous owner.

The horse lovers could see that the miniature equines were “horribly overweight” and also learned that they had some major health problems.

Rosie was estimated to be carrying in excess of 30kg more than was healthy, which caused her hooves to twist and affected her breathing. She was unable to lie down or roll over.

Max, meanwhile, suffered from severe laminitis, a painful condition causing inflammation of the hoof.

“We have seven horses between us, so we discussed how we could take these two miniature horses into our care as well,” tells Amber.

Naughty Rosie can’t resist the juicy fruit.

“We’d been inspired by the rescue efforts of [Northland horse trainer] Chloe Phillips-Harris and were lucky that their owner said we could give them a new loving home.”

That was in November last year and the trio are now dedicated to giving the horses a better life, “filled with adventure”.

When Rosie and Max first came into the women’s care, they were surprisingly introverted.

“We got their teeth checked, had their feet trimmed and had their blood tested,” says Amber, who is the official owner of the pair.

“Max had a thick coat that was clipped off . Slowly, over time, they started playing, being super-cheeky and whinnying out to us – all those lovely, natural social behaviours that horses are meant to have.”

Miniature horses are very easy to overfeed due to their small size and metabolism. Rosie currently tips the scales at 134kg and Max at 132kg.

Sarah (left, with Amber and Emily) horses around with Max and Rosie.

“Our goal is to get them fit, healthy and to find them a long-term lease home with a family, where they can go out on regular adventures. Then that gives us the opportunity to help other horses,” says Amber.

As part of their objective, the three friends signed the ponies up for a 30-day virtual challenge with Born to Run adventure racing, which started on March 15.

The programme is aimed at raising awareness for the wellbeing of miniature horses and giving them an active life, full of purpose.

“They might be small, but these horses are born to run,” explains Amber. “Some people get minis but don’t realise the amount of care that’s required to keep them healthy and they can easily become lawnmowers.

“Putting them into a paddock to let them eat as much as they like can lead to a number of health issues, as the sugars from eating a lot of green grass can make them very ill.

“Horses need to balance food and movement, so it’s a natural behaviour for them to move and graze for food. And managing the intake of the right kinds of food is paramount too. We give them long dry grass, hay and feed, so it’s less sugar for their bodies.”

Over the past few months, Rosie and Max have thrived with care, love and outings to the beach and the local racetrack – attracting a crowd wherever they go.

“We took them for a walk down the road yesterday and the attention they got was incredible,” enthuses Sarah. “Everyone slows down to have a look. There was even a man outside his house yelling to his family, ‘Come out! Come out!’ He couldn’t believe that they were fully grown, despite their small stature.”

The two horses were unable to run at all when the three friends first took over their care, but they now careen across the pasture with speed.

The pair are believed to have been together for most of their 20 years and, like an old married couple, quiet-natured Max relies on the leadership of the more outgoing Rosie.

“She’ll pester him to play tag, nip him on the bottom and run away,” smiles Amber. “They’re such wonderful characters!”

The cheeky chums have also made themselves right at home at Sarah’s home.

“They honestly think they’re allowed to just go inside her house and sit on the couch like they’re part of the family,” Amber grins. “They really make us laugh every single day.”

You can follow Max and Rosie’s progress on Instagram @mini.speed.racers or check out their 30 Day Fitness Challenge at You can also support them via

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