By Amira Van Leeuwen
BUDA – Tony Greaves was born in West Texas, Lamesa, where he grew up with Shetland ponies all his life. His mother said he learned to walk holding on to a halter of a little filly they called “dappled filly.” Greaves couldn’t say dappled at such a young age, so they settled on the name “Daffy.” He had her for many years until she died.
Greaves raised his first miniature horse, Big’Un Greaves, in 1963 when he was a senior in high school. In 1978, when the American Miniature Horse Association (AMHA) was founded, Greaves registered Big’Un at 15-years-old. His family always had Shetlands, but he always loved the smallest ones.
“When we would go to an auction or something, I would search the barn and find the smallest one and beg my dad to buy it,” Greaves said.
When Greaves was younger, he had a comic book of Bozo the Clown. Bozo had a miniature circus of animals he carried around in his briefcase that would perform when placed on a table. Greaves said that that was the size of animals he wanted.
He remembers telling his dad that he wanted to race 22-inch horses.
“Oh, you’ll never get them that little,” his dad replied.
“Well, I’m going to try,” Greaves said. And fortunately for Greaves, his father lived long enough to see him get his horses down to 28-inches.
Now, Greaves is continuing his dream.
“I had one stallion that I sold two years ago — I didn’t really want to sell him, but I had somebody who just absolutely had to buy him. I popped off and gave her a price that I thought she would never pay, and she did. But he was only 24.5 inches tall, full-grown,” Greaves said.
Greaves now has one horse named Jackpot, about one-year-old and 21.5 inches tall. According to Greaves, several buyers are interested in him, but he has held onto him because the horse’s father is 26-inches tall. Greaves thinks Jackpot will be about 23-inches tall when he is fully grown.
Little America Miniature Horse Farm is a family-owned miniature horse farm in Buda. Tony Greaves and his wife, Carol Greaves, purchased the land in 1995 and have registered over 1,500 horses. Greaves and his wife have two children and have been married for 56 years.
The name was inspired by Greaves’s time touring with Fred Waring and his Pennsylvanians in 1966 and 1967.
“We did a lot of patriotic music, and I always loved patriotic music. Carol said, ‘Well, what about calling our farm Little America Miniature Horses?’” Greaves said.
Initially, Little America Miniature Horses used the United States map as its logo, and then they came up with the logo of the horse head with a flag pattern.
“It’s worked out really well because we use flags when we go to the horse shows; we use flags on the stalls and we use flags in our advertising,” Greaves explained.
One of the first horses Greaves sold was to Paolo Gucci for $50,000.
While the COVID-19 pandemic was at the forefront of many business owners’ minds, Greaves said he thinks it ended up increasing his foot and online traffic.
“It just seemed like last year, I had more interest,” Greaves said. He also attributes his business increase to the internet and consistently updating the website.
“A lot of people don’t keep their website up. I mean, people will call me and ask me, ‘When was your website last updated?’ and I say ‘An hour ago, you know, sometimes literally,’” Greaves said.
Greaves’ favorite thing about Little America’s Miniature Horse Farm is the horses and foaling season. The couple has ten cameras in their foaling area to check on the pregnant mares. Greaves checks on the mares twice daily, in the morning and at night. Once the mares appear close to giving birth, they put the horses in their foaling barn just outside the house. If Greaves thinks the horse will give birth in the next night or so, he will put a beeper on them. The beeper will go off when the horses lay down for 15 seconds and set off an alarm that will wake Greaves up. Greaves said if they are in labor, he will go out to the barn and be with them while they give birth to ensure everything goes okay.
“The problem is, is sometimes the babies are so little that they don’t break out of the amniotic sack, and they can suffocate, so we try to be there with them, especially the tiny ones,” Greaves said.
Greaves said he also loves to show his horses and miniatures all over the United States yet they are lucky because most of the larger shows are in Texas.
The Greaves family has shown horses in Virginia, Ogden, Utah and Reno, Nevada. For about the last 10 years, the world show has been in Fort Worth, which will be coming up in the last week of Sept. through Oct. 1. Little America Miniature Horse Farm has 13 horses it plans on taking to the world show.
Most of the time, Greaves will put the stallion’s name in their name, which gives him a clue as to remember who they are. He comes up with names for the horses based on his surroundings.
“One night, I was watching Lady Selfridge on PBS, and the beeper went off. I ran out and delivered a baby, and her name was Miss Selfridge Boogie; her daddy’s name was Boogie Nights,” Greaves said.
Another of Greaves’s favorite names is Little America’s It’s a Trip.
“I almost stepped on this one [cat]and kind of kicked it out of the way as I was running out, and it got in my way again, and I tripped over it,” Greaves said.
Greaves also has what he likes to call his “private collection,” which comprises some of the smallest miniatures in the world.
For more information about the Greaves family and Little American Miniature Horse Farm, visit https://minihorseforsale.com/.