Erica Todd miniature horsesHorse owner Erica Todd, at center right, returns to Shrewsbury with some miniature friends from the equine kingdom.

Did you know that June is the Month of the Horse here in New Jersey — a designation made official back in 2000 by Garden State Governor (and daughter of Hunterdon County’s “horse country”) Christie Whitman?

Look closely at the Great Seal of the State of New Jersey and you’ll note that our equine friends have been getting top billing as far back as 1777 — a position of honor that speaks to “not only horse racing and breeding, but also for show competitions, trail riding, and providing the state with revenue, jobs, and open space, all necessary for maintaining the quality of life in the Garden State,” in the words of Monmouth County Library Commission chair Renee Swartz.

Here on the Greater Red Bank Green, that connection is celebrated each year at the county library’s Eastern Branch in Shrewsbury, where on Friday morning, the grounds outside the Broad Street/ Route 35 facility will once again play host to a couple of hard-working (and utterly adorable) special guests.

Those visitors are Mr. Buster and Star, a pair of miniature horses who have become favorites with animal lovers of all ages — and whose breed is described as docile, calm in nature, very friendly, and not exceeding 34 inches in height.

Scheduled for 11 a.m., the Friday stopover represents an encore appearance for the two minis and their owner-handler Erica Todd, herself representing the Knight Riders 4-H Club of Monmouth County.

Buster and Star are more than merely show-and-tell attractions, however. When not getting sociable with audiences at various area venues and events, the full-grown adult miniatures “pony” for a living — meaning they escort racehorses to the track during their morning training sessions and serve as guides for horses that are exercising without riders. Recognized for their special qualities as four-legged trainers, teachers, and therapists, “ponying” horses have established a proven track record as calming influences on the more high-strung thoroughbred horses — and are familiar to racetrack regulars in their role as parade escorts at the start of a race.

Friday’s event is slated for 11 a.m. Call 1-888-941-8188 in case of inclement weather, and take it here for information on additional Month of the Horse activities going on throughout the county library system.

For the remainder of June, the library will feature a display of books, CDs and videos, all highlighting the horse’s role in our state’s history, economy, agriculture, and everyday life.