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Family surprised by birth of miniature horse at Plumcreek farm

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Five day old miniature horse Gingersnap takes her first walk along with mother Ginger and Robert Shilling at the farm in Plumcreek. JAN PAKLER I FOR THE LEADER TIMES
Saturday, June 29, 2013, 1:56 a.m.

PLUMCREEK — When Linda Shilling glanced in one of the barn stalls at the Kimmel Shadyside Farm on Sunday morning to check on the miniature horse Ginger, she was shocked to see eight legs instead of four.

During the night, the mare had given birth to a tiny filly, Gingersnap.

Gingersnap — Snappy for short — weighs just 20 pounds and is a little more than 20 inches tall.

Snappy might be tiny, but she's got a big personality.

On Thursday, at just 5 days old, she was allowed outside of her fenced-in enclosure for the first time.

And she lived up to her name by kicking up her heels, racing around and showing off her high-pitched whinny.

That's according to Shilling's daughter, Dixie Kimmel, who owns and operates the farm along with her husband, Joshua.

Their 8-year-old son, Clark, helps take care of the half dozen miniature donkeys and, at the current tally, seven miniature horses.

“They're just fun pets,” said Dixie. “They follow you around and love to get attention — just like dogs.”

She laughed while talking about Snappy's lively nature and joked that the mini pet could have a future as a race horse.

“My grandfather used to raise race horses here,” said Dixie. “Maybe it's in the water.”

She said the animals are very trainable.

“One stallion shuts his own gate as if to say, ‘I'm in for the night,'” said Dixie.

The Kimmels had been visiting relatives in Virginia, when Snappy joined the lilliputian herd.

“It was a big surprise,” said Dixie, adding that it's difficult to tell when the mares are pregnant.

The Kimmels have been raising miniatures for 13 years, and Snappy is the fifth foal to be born on the farm.

“When Mom found her, she was so excited,” she said.

And so was Dixie's dad, Robert Shilling, who helps look after the miniature livestock.

“Mom said she has never seen him that excited,” said Dixie. “Dad has never been there for a baby.”

Brigid Beatty is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. She can be reached at 724-543-1303 or

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