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LIBBY, Mont.- Kootenai Valley Federal Credit Union Manager Betty Willman’s chariot awaits her after work hours.behind a 29-inch high horse. Most people just keep them as pets, Willman explained, but she said you can train the 29-inch high horses to pull you around in a cart. Some also show them, though Willman only brings hers for the occasional petting zoo or local show. While it is mainly a hobby for her, Willman said she also breeds and sells them on her 10 acres under her company name, “Grandma’s Mini Whinnies.” “I really like horses but I can’t handle the big ones,” Willman said. Unfortunately, 25 years ago when she first looked into getting into raising the miniature horses, the price tag was too high costing $3,000 to $7,000 each. They have since come down and she paid just $700 for her lead mare. The horses take up the bulk of her time outside the credit union, she said. Willman cautioned that some people buy them because they are cute and do not realize the time commitment and they get neglected. “My husband and I really enjoy taking care of them,” she said, but they really are a lot of work. Other than the regular cleaning and feeding of the animals, miniature horses need to be shaved every spring; miniature horses can become quite woolly over the winter. Despite the prospect of shaving her five mares, one stud, and miniature donkey stud-who she expects “is going to be a handful”-Willman truly enjoys working with the animals. This spring the miniatures will also have to get their West Nile booster shots after an outbreak occurred in Montana last year and is expected to repeat itself this year, Willman explained. [email protected]

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