A hinny is the offspring of a male horse and a female donkey (jennet or jenny). They are rarer than mules, which are the children of a male donkey (jackass or jack) and a female horse. Like the mule, the hinny is almost always sterile. The head of a hinny looks more similar to that of a horse than does the head of a mule. Hinnies are on average slightly smaller than mules. There is much speculation as to the size variances among hybrids, some believe it is more physiological, others claim it's genetic. Otherwise, there is little difference between them.

Actually, athough hybrids are admittedly a roll of the genetic dice, there are some differences that occur frequently between mules and hinnies. Hinnies often have shorter ears (although they are still longer than those of horses) and more horse-like manes and tails. They often come in horse colors, as the male often determines the color of the coat. Thus, mules are mostly have donkey coat colors. Certain traits, like the popular "gait" that some horses and donkeys (yes, there are gaited donkeys!) posses, seem to pass more readily though the male genes. Therefore, many people have tried to produce hinnies using gaited male horses to get a gaited hybrid.

Hinnies are smaller because donkeys are, for the most part, smaller that horses, and equine offspring will not grow larger than the mother (in this case, a donkey) can accommodate. Hinnies do however, like mules, come in many sizes. This is because donkeys come in many sizes, from miniatures as small as 24 inches at the withers, to Mammoth Jacks and Jennies that may be over 15 hands. Thus, a hinny is resticted to being about the size of the largest breed of donkey. Mules, however, have horse mares as mothers, so they can be as large as the size of the largest breed of horse. There are some huge mules out there, mostly from work horse breeds such as the Belgian.

Hinnies are similar to mules in that they are generally more intelligent than horses, and more cooperative than donkeys. Both are also healthier and less expensive to feed and maintain than horses. This is a trait they get from the donkey, a notoriously hardy creature that, in the wild, survives on a harsh diet in a desert environment. Thus, they also get their ability to work hard is harsh conditions from the donkey, especially in high temperatures. New Orleans outlawed the use of horses in favor of mules in the carriage trade because having horses collapse in the street from the heat was not good for tourism.

Hinnies are difficult to obtain because of the differences in the number of chromosomes of the horse and the donkey. A donkey had 62 pairs, a horse 64. Sterility in the mule/hinny comes from the same reason...they have only 63 chromosomes. The uneven number results in an incomplete reproductive system. The male mule or hinny can and will mate, but will be "shooting blanks". It is considered best to geld (nueter)them, thus saving yourself some problems. Female hybrids may or may not go through heat cycles. There are a few very rare instances of horse/donkey hybrids becoming pregnant, but they almost always are unable to carry to term.

There are other reasons for their rarity. Female donkeys (jennies) and male horses (stallions)are choosier about their mates than horse mares and donkey jacks. Thus, the two parties involved may not care to mate. Even if they do cooperate, female donkeys are less likely to concieve when breed to a horse than a horse mare is when breed to a donkey. Breeding larger hinnies is an even bigger challange as it requires a Mammoth Jenny. Mammoth stock is becoming increasing rare and has been declared an endangered domestic breed. It is unlikely a Mammoth Jenny's valuable breeding time would be wasted trying to produce a sterile hinny hybrid when they need to be preserving their own genetic line.da:Mulæsel de:Maulesel fr:Mule pl:Osłomuł


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