The Falabella was developed during the nineteenth century
in the country of Argentina. The breed takes its name from the Falabella family, who spent years
establishing the breed on their ranch outside Buenos Aires. Although the Falabella family is credited
with beginning the breed, the initial idea of producing a miniature horse came from Patrick
Newtall, an Irish man living in Argentina. He spent years forming a herd of small ' horses'
that stand under nine hands high, and he passed his knowledge and expertise on to his son in law,
Juan Falabella, in the year 1879.
The Falabella was produced by crossing Shetland ponies
with the herd produced by Patrick Newtall. There were then further infusions by a very small English
Thoroughbred and a small Criollo. To keep reducing the size of the Falabella, the smallest and
absolute best of the progeny were repeatedly inbred until the average size was below thirty inches
at the withers. There is, interestingly enough, a degree of Spanish blood in the Falabella, because
Newtall's original herd would have been founded largely on small Spanish horses, then with later
infusions of Criollo blood.
Originally, intentions were to produce a tiny, miniature
horse and not a small pony. It is quite hard to tell what the perceived function of developing
this breed was, when considering how tiny and inbred they are now. However, the Fallabella is
extremely strong for its size and has been used in light harness capacity and is often ridden
by small children. The conformation of the breed, with its straight shoulder and small size, does
not put it very high in the ranks of children's pony. They have very good temperaments, are intelligent
and friendly, and it is becoming apparent that perhaps their best role is as an ornamental and
In appearance the better examples are quite attractive
little horses, but due to inbreeding, they invariably have heads that are too large for their
bodies, and various other defects of conformation, mainly in the legs and hindquarters. Interestingly,
it has been discovered that the Falabella has one or two fewer ribs than other equine breeds.
They have a wide range of coat colors and are often spotted or painted, which is a throwback to
their Spanish blood. They are exceptionally long-lived and have been known to live longer than
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