Falabella Miniature Horse

Falabella Miniature Horse Association

33222 N. Fairfield Road

Round Lake, Illinois 60073

www.falabellafmha.com

The Falabella is a rare Argentine breed of Miniature Horse that has been kept pure by breeding only pure Falabellas to each other for countless generations. It is known as the original Miniature Horse breed, yet the miniature size is secondary to the pure heritage, which is more than 150 years old. It is a true purebred with a unique and historic ancestry, which is one of its greatest attributes. The other is the fact that the Falabella name is recognized all over the world. Breed ancestry has been kept pure by the Falabella Farm and by small groups of dedicated breeders who want to preserve the little horse’s precious heritage. Falabellas were produced through both natural and selective breeding over many generations.

The Falabella is an exquisitely small horse that has always been rare due to the limited number within its ancestry gene pool. Estimates indicate that only a few thousand of them exist in the entire world. The most desirable feature of the Falabella and its primary value is that of its rarity and pure ancestry. It is very prestigious to own and is highly prized by those who have one.

Beside its intrinsic value, the Falabella can provide family enjoyment as a beloved pet or companion for anyone, from tots to teens and adults. Most Falabellas can be ridden by small children. Although some may be too small for riding, the breed is strong for its size, thus driving them is very popular, especially in shows and parades.

History

Many historic facts and fables have been told of the famous Falabella in books, magazines, and equine news articles. It was said that the original little horses were descendants of Andalusian and Spanish Barb horses brought to Argentina by the Spaniards when they first arrived in the fifteenth century. The Spanish intended to conquer Argentina, but were defeated, and the horses were left behind, free to roam. Over the next few centuries, inbreeding and the harsh environment caused a reduction in size, which culminated in naturally small horses.

By the 1840s, these small equines were seen mixed within herds near the southern Buenos Aires area by a breeder named Patrick Newell, who decided to build a herd with the smallest horses he could find. It was from this point when selective breeding began to develop a true small horse. Newell learned how to improve the horses and passed his breeding knowledge to his son-in-law, Juan Falabella, who in turn shared his knowledge with his son Emilio, who then passed it on to his son, Julio.

As Julio worked to develop the breed with his father throughout his younger years, he gained all the knowledge his father had received from previous generations. Over many years, they used a variety of equines, including the native Argentine Criollo horse and others with Pinto and Appaloosa markings, to breed down in size, continually keeping the smallest and best quality in each generation.

By the 1950s, Julio took over the Falabella Farm and created horses in every color. The greatest development and perfection of the Falabella breed was achieved by Julio when he created his little horses in varied colors, including pintos and some very rare and colorful Appaloosas, which were his favorites. Through dedication and knowledge, he was able to produce perfect little horses that were some of the smallest in the world.

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A Falabella pinto-spotted youngster is inquisitive. Iofoto/Shutterstock

Once the tiny sizes in all colors were attained, a century of natural heritage and breed development was completed, and Julio set out to show his Falabella Miniature Horses to the world. By the early 1960s, he was exporting his Falabellas to the United States and other countries. Several articles about the Falabella Miniature Horse were written in National Geographic magazine, Western Horseman, and horse magazines. When reporters traveled to Argentina to interview him, Julio was the first ever to call diminutive equines “Miniature Horses,” as well as the first to market them by that name. News spread like wildfire about this Miniature Horse breed that was centuries in the making. Julio and his Falabella Miniature Horses became famous as he continued to export them to all parts of the world. Some of the richest and most famous people—kings, princes, presidents, and movie stars—bought them, usually paying astronomical prices for some of Julio’s smallest and best horses.

Through the 1970s Falabella Miniature Horses were being imported in small groups. By this time, Julio had a large number of Falabellas on his ranch in sizes as small as 28 inches with perfect conformation in all colors. Some of Julio’s best and most colorful stallions and mares were sent to the United States and other countries around the world. It was during these years that the Falabella Miniature Horse became a registered breed through the Falabella Miniature Horse Association (FMHA). When Julio passed away in 1980, the Falabella Farm and his life’s work were continued in Argentina by his wife and her sons. Julio’s daughter, Maria Angelica Falabella, also continued the breed when she moved to the United States in 1995. She brought her very best Falabellas with her, including her smallest and most colorful Pintos and Appaloosas. Both Falabella farms continued to be primary producers and exporters of the breed all over the world until Maria Angelica Falabella’s retirement in 2006. The Falabella Farm in Argentina still has the little horses, and there are also other breeding farms located in the United States, Canada, Europe, the United Kingdom, and in a number of other countries.

The most famous Falabella to be imported to the United States was Chianti, a beautiful black leopard Appaloosa stallion foaled in 1964 that was imported with Falabella mares to the Regina Winery in California in the 1960s. Chianti became an immediate sensation and has since been featured in many equine news articles. Chianti and his mares produced some of the first Falabella foals born in the United States and some of the very first Appaloosas within the Miniature breed, making Chianti a founding sire.

One of the best known and finest stallions in the United States was Toyland Zodiac, a 31-inch, top-quality, black leopard Appaloosa foaled in 1976. Toyland Zodiac was the leading sire and grandsire of more show-quality and top-winning offspring than any other Falabella stallion in the United States. Some of the most beautiful and finest quality Falabellas have bloodlines that trace back to Toyland Zodiac, firmly establishing him as a prominent founding sire in the breed.

Breeding Incentives

Specializing in Falabellas is a popular choice for those who are looking for something different. A growing number of Miniature Horse breeders and owners are adding Falabellas to their farms, as they see the many advantages in breeding these rare little horses. Being highly popular, but limited in number, they offer an exclusive marketing advantage. This is especially attractive since there are few Falabella breeders, but a large number of Miniature Horse owners who are potential buyers.

They are strong color producers and are available in all colors and sizes, offering a wide variety of choices to please everyone. They can be shown in all Miniature Horse shows and registered in all Miniature Horse registries in the world. Most importantly, they have their own FMHA registration certificate to authenticate their historic ancestry.

With many top farm names coming and going over the years, the Falabella name has withstood the test of time by retaining its status. Falabellas are known and shown worldwide and the name creates its own market, which is a unique advertising and promotional advantage available to breeders. This offers an exclusive opportunity to use the Falabella name to market them, which draws enquiries from Miniature Horse owners as well as Falabella fanciers. Only FMHA registered horses have the inherited right to claim the Falabella name.

As with other horse breeds, Falabellas come in all price ranges. Some can be expensive and carry premium prices, yet, most can be acquired at affordable prices. Foals are especially desirable, being adorable and affectionate, and cost less than adults. They are ideal for those who want a few horses, a sire for future breeding stock, or want show prospects. They retain their value and are adorable and fun to raise. They add herd value if kept, or generate income each year if sold. A one-time purchase of breeding stock can give financial returns through foal sales for twenty years or more.

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Falabellas come in all colors and can have any color of eyes. Iofoto/Shutterstock

There are distinct differences between Falabellas and American Miniature Horses. As of 2008, there are less than 1,500 Falabellas registered in the FMHA since its incorporation in 1973, compared to the hundreds of thousands of registered Miniature Horses. Only small herds of Falabellas are known to exist in the United States and most other countries, and their number is estimated to be only several thousand in the entire world. This creates a strong demand and limited supply due to the small number in existence. Although both Falabellas and American Miniature Horses have made great strides toward meeting the standard of perfection in the past twenty years, the purebred ancestry documentation of every Falabella and its rarity are what primarily set it apart from all other breeds.

Because they are so special, however, the primary reason to have Falabellas is to protect and preserve the breed through dedicated breeding by keeping the bloodlines pure.

Showing

Beyond generating an income, many enjoy the thrill of showing and winning ribbons, trophies, and special awards, which can bring show titles, recognition, and added value to Falabellas. Since they meet the requirements and breed standards of other Miniature Horse registries, they can be registered and shown in Miniature Horse shows around the world. With there so few Falabellas in existence, there would hardly be enough to put on a big show like the larger Miniature Horse registries do.

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A good example of breed type, this Appaloosa Falabella is a foundation stallion. Falabella Miniature Horse Association

Both adults and children can show in a variety of Miniature Horse classes. The horses are easy to train for driving and very rewarding to show. Being a versatile breed, Falabellas can do all the things that any Miniature Horse can do. Show-quality Falabellas compete side by side with today’s American Miniatures and have taken ribbons and national titles. Some have taken top awards on an international basis.

For those who cannot get to the shows, Falabellas do not have to be shown to maintain their high value and good marketability. Their true value is in what they are—rare Falabella Miniature Horses.

Argentina Falabella Registry

All Falabellas have their origins from the Falabella Farm in Argentina, which still continues to breed and export its little horses around the world. The Falabella Farm has developed its own Asociación de Criadores de Caballos Falabella (ACCF) registry, which records the original ancestry of their sires, dams, and offspring born on the Falabella Farm. The breed name is protected by the Falabella Farm in Argentina through ACCF. When a Falabella is exported from Argentina, its ancestry continues to be protected by registration internationally with an ACCF registration document that authenticates its Falabella Farm heritage.

Falabella Miniature Horse Association

With continued importations of Falabellas in the 1970s and additional offspring being born, there was a need for a registry in the United States. By this time, Falabellas were already becoming popular, and a number of breeders were importing them to other parts of the world as well as across the country. In 1973 the Falabella Miniature Horse Association (FMHA) was incorporated in the United States as the first Falabella Miniature Horse registry in the world. The Argentina ancestral pedigrees were recorded, and FMHA registration certificates were issued to all purebreds and their offspring. Today, FMHA continues as an international registry for Falabellas all over the world.

Only purebred Falabellas are accepted for registration. They must have an FMHA registered sire and dam, or documented proof of every ancestor tracing their original ancestry to the Falabella Farm in Argentina. Those that originate from the Falabella Farm and have a Falabella prefix on their pedigree are honored for registration. FMHA also honors all pure descendants of imported Fallabellas having ACCF registration certificates from the Argentina Falabella Farm and from other Falabella registries in other countries.

Other U.S. Registries

An additional and important advantage of the breed is that most Falabellas in the United States can also be registered in the American Miniature Horse Association (AMHA) and/or the American Miniature Horse Registry (AMHR). This triple registration option gives owners the opportunity to register, breed, and show their Falabellas in the registries of their choice and still maintain a pure Falabella breeding program.

The American Miniature Horse is extremely popular and has become one of the top choice breeds. Proof of their popularity is shown as the count of AMHA and AMHR registrations are over two hundred thousand since their inception. In comparison, there are less than 1,500 Falbellas registered in FMHA since its inception in 1973, attesting to their rarity. Pure Falabellas make up only a tiny part of the growing number of other registered Miniature Horses; however they are a big attraction for Miniature Horse breeders and Falabella fanciers, who enjoy the option of showing and breeding Falabellas with other Miniatures.

FMHA Breed Standard

The first and most important breed standard for any Falabella Miniature Horse is to possess documentation of pure Falabella ancestry, meaning that every ancestor has been verified to be a purebred Falabella, which is authenticated by a FMHA registration certificate.

Disposition: Falabellas are sweet natured, easy to handle, and enjoy being with anyone, from children, to adults and seniors.

Quality: The quality of a Falabella is most important, having an overall appearance of a well balanced horse with a pleasing look, good legs, a good bite, and good conformation—the same as required to show. Falabellas with the finest show quality are highly desirable.

Breed type: All breed types are acceptable. As development of the Falabella evolved, selective breeding created a variety of types. Some of the most popular breed types seen in Falabellas are Arabian, Thoroughbred, Quarter Horse, Pinto, and Appaloosa, but the most important factor is always their pure Falabella ancestry. Emphasis has been toward breeding for refinement, with well balanced conformation and the look of a true horse in the breed type they resemble.

Size: Birth heights can be as small as 12 inches or up to 22 inches or more, and mature heights are usually attained at three years of age. Since they are naturally a small equine breed, mature heights can be 25 to 34 inches and more, but most Falabellas mature in the 30 to 34-inch height range. They were continually bred for the smallest sizes, and records show they breed true for their inherited traits. They have long been known for producing some of the smallest equines in the world and for passing on their small sizes to their offspring. All sizes are accepted for registration in FMHA. In essence, size does not take away from their pure ancestry or value. Their pure heritage has always been the first and foremost reason to acquire them, and they are still a rare and special breed regardless of their height. Once pure Falabellas are accepted for registration, they remain registered in FMHA for life.

Colors: Falabellas come in all solid colors and a wide variety of colorful pinto and appaloosa patterns. An unusual “pintaloosa” pattern can also occur, showing both pinto and appaloosa markings. Some of the most colorful are in strong demand, but limited in number.

Credit: Falabella Miniature Horse Association

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