Pumuckel is a therapy horse, but not the kind you ride. Instead, he climbs into his mother’s van and goes on outings to visit the elderly. Pumuckel is a Shetland pony, and at only 20 inches tall, he is most likely the world’s smallest horse.
Carola Weidemann and her family live in Breckerfeld, Germany, on a large farm with two dogs, boarding horses, and several mini Shetland ponies. So, when she bought Pumuckel last year, she assumed he’d be like the other ponies, which stand about 31 inches tall. Pumuckel, on the other hand (likely named after a mischievous little goblin from a German children’s program), stopped growing around 20 inches.
Most mini Shetland ponies should weigh around 264 pounds (120 kg), according to Britain’s Shetland Pony Club, and Pumuckel weighs around 77 pounds.
Pumuckel is significantly smaller than Weidemann’s dogs. He is allowed into the house and eats breakfast in the kitchen, unlike her other ponies. When it comes time to visit nursing homes, Pumuckel climbs a ramp into the vehicle, Weidemann straps him into the passenger seat, and they’re on their way.
The Voice of America posted photos of Weidemann and Pumuckel on Facebook, which show how small he is.
Pumuckel is two inches shorter than the current record holder for the world’s smallest horse, so Weidemann contacted Guinness World Records. Bombel, a dwarf Appaloosa horse, stands 22 inches tall. However, when the authority on record-breaking achievements responded, according to Reuters, they informed Weidemann that horses and ponies must be 4 years old to be considered. Pumuckel will have to wait a year for this honor because he is only three years old.
Weidemann told Reuters that she hopes her cuddly little horse doesn’t grow any taller in the meantime due to “the vagaries of nature.”
Until then, he will spend time with his mother, train, and visit seniors.
“Many of the seniors we visit used to have a connection to horses or farming,” Weidemann told Westfalenpost in a translated article. “A lot of emotions come up then. Especially during the time when the residents were not allowed to receive visitors and could not see their families, it was a nice change from the dreary everyday life. The reactions and the feedback I get make up for the training and education effort by far. It’s an affair of the heart.”