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HOCKLEY, Texas – Citizens of the Lone Star State will tell you everything’s bigger in Texas, including oil wells, 10-gallon hats and silver belt buckles. But Dennis Schaefer, executive vice president of First Community Credit Union in Houston, can point to at least 33 exceptions – his miniature horses, most of which stand no taller than an armadillo, from tip to tail. Dennis and wife, Rozanne, immersed themselves in Texas culture when they moved from Illinois in 1992. Within months they had bought acreage in the country, traded in the car for a pickup truck and considered taking off work to participate in a trail ride. Soon after, they bought two “regular size” horses, but when one threw Rozanne, she began looking for a new hobby. A Western Horseman magazine opened their eyes to miniature horses. Dennis bought the issue for an article entitled, “How to Take Care of your Horse in the Wintertime.” “The article was talking about what to do in snow and ice,” he said. “None of that applies to winters in Houston, but the magazine also had an article about raising miniature horses. My wife said, `I could do this.’ She was about to receive a Christmas bonus, so we went to a horse show, where we saw about 200 miniature horses of all kinds – appaloosas, palominos, everything you see in big horses, just smaller. In Dec. 1992, we bought a mare in foal and a yearling filly. Two months later, our third horse was born.” From those original three horses, the Schaefers built a business, Lone Star Miniatures, in which they buy, breed, show and sell horses. While they’ve had as many as 45 horses at one time, currently they own 33, a number Dennis said requires 4-5 hours daily to feed, water and groom. The Schaefers plan their vacations to accommodate horse shows conducted by the American Miniature Horse Association (for horses 34″ and under) and the American Miniature Horse Registry (two classes: 34″ and under, and 34″-38″). Since 1994, the Schaefers have had nine National Champions and 39 Top 10 horses. Horses compete “in the same events as larger horses, except you don’t ride miniatures,” Dennis said. [email protected]

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