- The Washington Times - Sunday, March 18, 2007


At just a hair over 17 inches tall, the miniature horse is more inclined to walk under fences than jump them, and her owners have sheltered the mare from ever gaining “circus-sideshow” or “one-trick-pony” status.

As the world’s smallest horse, 5-year-old Thumbelina, weighing in at 57 pounds, has a bigger mission: to raise $1 million for children’s charities this year.

Her handler, Michael Goessling, son of miniature horse farmers Kay and Paul Goessling, says Thumbelina is the ideal child advocate. Her name comes from the Hans Christian Andersen fairy tale of a woman the size of a thumb.

“When kids meet her in person, they want to talk to her and know what she likes and dislikes,” Mr. Goessling said. “It’s amazing because she is so loving with people. She craves attention.”

After being named “World’s Smallest Living Horse” by Guinness World Records last summer, Thumbelina has certainly not been short on attention.

She has been showered with praise on the television talk-show circuit. The flow of schoolchildren who visit her is constant, and many leave with coloring books dedicated to the Goessling family pet.

“I’ll have her out for hours. She’s so mild-mannered, everything just seems to brush off her shoulders. There have been 100 kids around petting her, and she’ll take a nap,” Mr. Goessling said.

When Thumbelina travels the country this year, she will do so in style — in a recreational vehicle that is her converted stable on wheels. Mr. Goessling calls it the Thumby Mobile.

An upcoming “Thumbelina Children’s Tour” is expected to include stops in all 50 states at children’s hospitals, schools, summer camps, fairs, horse shows and charitable fundraisers.

At Goose Creek Farms, the Goesslings breed miniatures for sale and for horse show competitions, a hobby that has brought them numerous ribbons for more than a decade.

But Thumbelina is special. “We don’t want to make a penny off of her,” Mr. Goessling said. “We never have. There will never be another Thumbelina.”

The tiny horse and her charitable foundation have helped raise about $10,000 for children’s charities since she gained world record status as the smallest horse ever recorded, at 17 inches at the withers.

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