By PetMD Editorial on Jan. 2, 2010

The Falabella is a special and rare breed. It developed a stable build and height after many generations of selection. The Falabella is extremely small. It comes from Argentina.


Physical Characteristics


The Falabella is still a horse although it is smaller than even other pony breeds. In fact, a small Falabella stands at only slightly over 24 inches. A large Falabella, on the other hand, is no more than 34 inches tall.


On average, the Falabella stands at a height of 6.1-7 hands (24-28 inches, 61-71 centimeters).


Personality, Temperament, and Care


The Falabella is gentle and docile. However it possesses great strength, beyond its small build. The Falabella is also able to survive harsh conditions without the specialized care that most horses need.


History and Background


In 1845, tribes to the south of Buenos Aires on the Argentinian meadowlands had herds of small horses. One particular Irishman was interested in them and was able to take a few with him. After many years of experimenting with the breed, the Irishman was successful in producing little ponies with the perfect build in 1853. He then passed all of his knowledge and breeding data to his son-in-law, Juan Falabella.


Juan Falabella experimented with the breed with the aim of further improving his stock. He mixed it with strains from the small English Thoroughbred, the Shetland Pony, and the Criollo. Through his efforts, he was able to develop a breed that was no more than thirty-three inches tall.


Falabella passed his horse breeding data to his son, Julio Cesar Falabella; it was Julio Cesar Falabella who gave the ponies the term “minihorse.” Like his father, Julio Falabella also experimented with the breed.  He used more than 700 mares in his efforts to improve the breed further.  In 1937, he successfully produced the stallion Napoleon I.  This stallion was one of the foundation sires of the Falabella breed. Soon, the Falabella attracted interest from the United States, Europe and the Far East.

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