Rural Missouri - September 2013 - (Page 8)

Nena Merchant scratches one of her newest foals, Star, while his father, Lucky, waits for attention. Nena and her husband, Todd, care for 17 minature horses on their farm. MERCHANT MINIAT URES South Missouri couple breeds small horses with big hearts L by Kile Brewer oyal, loving, gentle, housebroken. These are words you might use to describe your family dog, but at Merchant Miniatures, these words are more likely to describe a different type of animal — a horse. Nena and Todd Merchant have been raising miniature horses since moving to Dadeville in 2002. After learning how gentle and loving the animals could be, they were hooked. The couple started building the top-quality mini horse farm they operate today. “We bought the minis for our grandkids to ride,” Nena says, “but they’re so gentle and so kind, I quickly fell in love with them.” The farm, which sits on the edge of downtown Dadeville, offers a picturesque view of rural Missouri. Waist-high horses trot through the fields, foals paired with their mothers, grazing, napping and just enjoying the carefree life the Merchants work so hard to maintain for them. They roll on their backs or nibble on each other to scratch the soft fur that covers their tiny horse bodies. As cute and cuddly as the horses are, the mini horse business is nothing to take lightly. The horses require a lot of attention and special care to ensure At the Merchants’ farm, they don’t use traditional chemicals on the horses’ coats. Instead, they mix their own pest-control solutions with water and bleach. Also, harnesses are kept separate to avoid spreading anything from one horse to another. 8 that all their needs are met, Nena says. Watering tanks are scrubbed with a specific mixture of water and bleach to keep the water clean enough that Nena and Todd would even drink it. Worming medicine is administered four times every year, and a regular veterinary schedule is maintained to keep the horses on a routine. “We keep everything as clean as possible, but not totally germ free,” Nena says. “We want the horses to be clean. We also want them to be able to survive in their outdoor environment, and their environment isn’t germ free.” Even more special care is needed when one of the Merchants’ mares is nearing the end of a pregnancy. The Merchant farm horses are fed hay and some alfalfa, in addition to their daily grains. Each horse is cared for differently, and diets are written based on their individual nutritional needs. Nena stresses that keeping a routine is very important. WWW.RURALMISSOURI.COOP http://WWW.RURALMISSOURI.COOP

Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of Rural Missouri - September 2013

Rural Missouri - September 2013
Merchant miniatures
Scorching the border
All aboard
Blasts from the past
Out of the Way Eats
Mowing down the competition
Hearth and Home
A place for Pershing
Around Missouri

Rural Missouri - September 2013