Horse Breed Falabella

The Falabella is considered a horse, not a pony or miniature pony although, its average height is only 6 to 7 hands. The name derives from the family that developed the breed during the 19th century. This Argentinean breed has quite the history and is now considered a rare breed.

Tribes of Pampas Indians were said to have in their possession small horses that attracted the attention of Irishman Patrick Newtall in 1845. The horses were located south of Buenos Aires and Newtall arranged to acquire some of the small animals. Newtall worked and experimented with the breed until 1853 when he successfully created a herd of perfectly built, small-statured horses that were less 10 hands. He passed his knowledge onto his son-in-law, Juan Falabella in 1879.

Juan Falabella would add other blood to the mix including Shetland, Criollo, and small English Thoroughbred. Falabella achieved conformation of the small horse in 1893 with an average height of less than 33 inches. Julio C. Falabella would later inherit the knowledge of this breed and the business in 1927 and it would be Julio who dubbed the horse the “minihorse”. The breeding program continued to flourish and included 700 breeding mares.

Napoleon 1, a chestnut piebald, was born in 1937 and became the top foundation sire of this small horse. Later in 1968, the chestnut Jauncito 168 Falabella would also become an important sire in the breeding program. In 1980, Maria L.B. de Falabella became successor of the establishment and continued on with the breeding program that began more than a century before.

The Falabella are the result of adaption to the harsh environment of the Pampas. The breed is assumed to be closely related to the many horses that were abandoned and left to adapt to the land. The Criollo horses of the region are thought to have undergone a type of “transformation” into a smaller size in order to survive. These Andalusian horses would have to travel for miles to forage and locate water which attributes the stout adversity of the breed.

Falabella horses are described to be a docile and calm breed of horse but have the strength that goes beyond their miniature appearance. The breed has been studied by both French and Japanese veterinarians who both agree that the Falabella is missing the typical amount of ribs and lumbar vertebra. The standard height for the breed is 29.25 inches however, many can be found that are only 23 inches.

There is no disagreement that the Falabella is a hardy breed, some living as long as 45 years with proper care. The coat is fine and silky and the hooves are oval shaped and narrow. The Falabella is accepted in a variety of coat colors including Pinto, Appaloosa, and the rare Pintaloosa pattern.

Angelica Falabella, daughter to Maria, moved to the United States in 1995 and imported with her some of the finest Falabella horses. The breed continues to be quite popular around the globe mainly due to its rarity. The Falabella Miniature Horse Association was established in 1973 to promote and preserve the breed for the future and although considered rare, the breed populations continue to thrive.


INTERNATIONAL ENCYCLOPEDIA OF HORSE BREEDS, by Bonnie Hendricks, copyright 2007.