Name of breed: Falabella miniature horse
Country of origin: Argentina
Breed origin: The Falabella was developed in Argentina from local horses of Criollo stock. A gentleman by the name of Patrick Newtall began the breeding program in 1868, but when Newtall died, his herd and breeding methods were passed to his son-in-law, Juan Falabella. Juan decided to add additional bloodlines to the program including the Welsh Pony, Shetland Pony and small Thoroughbreds. With this inbreeding, he was able to gain a consistently small size of horse within his herd.
In the 1940s, a descendant, Julia Falabella, created a formal breed registry and worked to regulate the breed to reach a consistent height. The first Falabella horses were imported to the US in 1962 and were used at the Regina Winery in California to drive a small stagecoach in parades to promote their wine.
Distinguishing features: The Falabella miniature horse is one of the smallest breeds of horse in the world. Average breed heights for a fully-grown Falabella today are between 71 and 86 cm (28 and 34 inches)…that’s less than 8 hands high! However, despite its size, the Falabella is not considered a pony, but rather a miniature horse.
They are similar to Thoroughbreds and Arabs in their conformation, with a sleek coat and a slim frame. The breed also inherited certain features from the pony bloodlines including a thicker hair coat, particularly the mane, tail and around the fetlocks.
Modern day Falabella: Falabellas are considered intelligent and easily trainable. Obviously due to their size, they can only be ridden by very small children. Cart driving is also a common use for Falabellas, and some have been known to have been used as guide animals for the vision impaired, due to their small size and easy trainability.