SO, YOU'RE a Civil War buff, and your idea of a fun autumn outing is to tour the 3,850-acre Gettysburg battlefield during peak fall color. Your children, however, don't share your enthusiasm for hundreds of bronze statues and plaques.

If you want to give the kids a break, spend a couple of hours at the nearby Land of Little Horses, a small, picturesque farm that showcases the country's largest herd of Falabella miniature horses. Visitors to the compound can learn about the animals' history as well as watch the endearing creatures race and perform tricks.

My 15-month-old daughter and numerous other youngsters touring the farm on a recent Sunday giggled as trainer Jody Fair introduced a few of the herd's 50 little horses, miniature versions bred down from standard-size animals. Fair explained that the breeding procedure remains the secret of the Falabella family of Argentina, who spent about a century developing an animal "the size of a pony with the {good} disposition of a horse." The full-grown miniatures measure under three feet tall.

Children are more interested in the animals' feats than the Falabella breeding history. During scheduled barn displays, Pedro, a stocky miniature Clydesdale, smiles for pictures. BeBe, one of the farm's best counting horses, answers math problems by scratching a hoof against the dirt an appropriate number of times.

During three daily half-hour shows in an indoor arena, Einstein, "The Wonder Horse," prances figure eights around planters of artificial flowers, unties knots in handkerchiefs and counts out his age. Other miniatures demonstrate their agility as they jump fences. The act also includes a performing llama named Calypso and Henry the Mule, two of the kids' favorite attractions.

Tape-recorded waltzes waft from an outdoor speaker as visitors tour the farm, which includes, in addition to the barn and arena, a track for sulky races and wagon rides, outdoor paddocks, saddle rides, a gift shop, a snack bar and a picnic area. A natural trail leads to several fenced-in goats, who happily wolf down food pellets available from vending machines.

Children can pet the horses in the display barn, where trainers are available to answer questions. A friendly cat who shares their stables proved as exciting as the horses to my daughter.

LAND OF LITTLE HORSES -- 125 Glenwood Dr., Gettysburg, Pa. 717/334-7259. Drive west on U.S. Route 30 or Route 116 from Gettysburg and follow the signs to the farm. Open daily April through October; fall hours are 10 to 5. Arena shows are at 11:30, 2:30 and 4:40. Barn displays are at 10:30, 12:30 and 3. Sulky races are at 1:30. Admission is $5.95 for adults, $4.95 for seniors and $3 for children ages 3 to 12. Saddle rides are $1.

Mary Jane Solomon last wrote for Weekend about area 4-H clubs.