Breeds Native to South America

The Falabella

The Falabella horse (although very small, it is regarded as a horse not a pony) lays claim to the title of being the smallest horse in the world. Surprisingly, for such a tiny horse, it has thoroughbred blood in its origins. The Falabella began in South America when an Irish man named Patrick Newtall discovered some unusually small horses running with an Indian tribe's larger riding horses. By 1853 he had acquired a herd of small but perfectly built miniature horses. In 1879, the herd was passed on to his son-in-law, Juan Falabella, who used small English thoroughbreds, Shetland ponies, Arabians and Criollos to develop the breed. Appaloosa infusions gave the breed its popular spotted colouring and it is cited that Hackneys were also added to the breed mix.

Falabella HorseCredit:

The herd was passed down through the generations and was kept on the family ranch, Recrio de Roca near Buenos Aires, Argentina.

The Falabella is not the only rather unique South American breed. Others include the Criollo, the Paso Fino, the Peruvian Paso and the Mangalarga Marchador.

A good Falabella will resemble a miniature thoroughbred and, like the thoroughbred, they need a lot of care.

The Falabella should not exceed 76cm in height. Most Falabellas are not strong and should not be ridden, even by a small child. However, they do make lovely pets and can pull small vehicles.

Falabella youngsterCredit:

The Falabella has a horse-like character and proportions. The gene for the small size seems to be dominant as a Falabella stallion bred to a larger mare will produce a foal much smaller than the mare. Falabellas breed true to type but because of inbreeding over the centuries they have lost vigour and do not have a strong constitution. Continually breeding for smallness of stature has resulted in animals with inherited and congenital weaknesses which require careful management.

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The temperament is usually friendly, quiet and very obedient. A bad example of the breed will have a number of conformation faults and will be a most unattractive animal. Big heads, heavy necks, knock-knees and cow-hocks are just some of the problems encountered. The head should preferably show horse character although many show their Shetland ancestry.

The body is slim and horse-like. The ears are very small and wide apart. The eyes are friendly and calm. The profile is straight and the nostrils small and open. The mane and tail are full and flowing. The withers are quite high, the back short and straight and the croup slightly sloping. The tail is well set on. The legs are slender but well built with a well-formed foot.

Appaloosa-type markings are very common but most colours are found including black, bay, brown, grey and roan.