The Falabella is the smallest horse breed in the world, known for its gentle, intelligent, and curious character. In this article, learn everything about the history, origin, appearance, character, lifespan, diseases, care, price, gaits, and suitable disciplines of this horse breed. Enjoy reading!
At a Glance
This profile provides all the essential information about the Falabella for you:
|Height||65 – 90cm|
|Weight||50 – 80kg|
|Lifespan||25 – 30 years|
|Coat Colors||All colors|
|Character||Gentle, affectionate, intelligent, curious, energetic|
|Gaits||Walk, trot, canterLight-footed|
|Suitable for||Driving, show, leisure|
History and Origin
The exact origin of the Falabella is not entirely clear. It is believed that in the 15th century, Spanish conquerors brought Berbers and Andalusians to Argentina. After failing to conquer Argentina, the Spaniards left their horses behind. To survive, the horses had to adapt to the natural conditions, undergoing many physical changes over the years. They became smaller and more resilient, likely leading to the ancestors of today’s Falabella.
In 1840, Patrick Newell discovered these small ponies near Buenos Aires. He took them to his farm and began breeding them. His breeding focus was primarily on achieving a small size. Therefore, it is believed he mainly crossbred the ponies with Shetland Ponies. Additionally, Newell desired elegant ponies, leading to speculation that English Thoroughbreds were introduced for refinement. Later, he handed the breeding over to his son-in-law, Juan Falabella. The horse breed owes its name to him.
What does a Falabella look like?
The appearance is distinguished by these specific physical traits:
Body Structure: It has a compact and elegant build. It has a straight, short back, less pronounced withers, steep shoulders, a slightly sloping, oblique croup, and slender, strong legs. The Falabella pony has a finely chiseled head, with a straight to slightly concave nose line, large nostrils, and small, movable ears.
- Coat Colors: The Falabella comes in all coat colors, including gray, chestnut, black, pinto, and appaloosa.
The Smallest Horse in the World
The Falabella is the smallest horse breed in the world. The pony typically stands between 65 and 90 centimeters tall, making it smaller than the Shetland Pony. In 1978, it set the record for the world’s smallest horse with one measuring at 30.4 centimeters.
Character and Temperament
The Falabella is known for these character traits:
- Gentleness & Affection: The Falabella pony is generally very gentle and affectionate. They are friendly, and patient, and enjoy contact and closeness with their owner.
- Intelligence & Curiosity: The Falabella is notably smart, curious, and attentive. They’re quick learners and are interested in their surroundings.
- Energy: Despite its small size, the pony is energetic and active. They like being mentally and physically challenged.
How long does a Falabella live?
A healthy Falabella can have an average lifespan of 25 to 30 years.
The Falabella is intentionally bred to be so small and inbreeding is used to maintain the small size. Therefore, the pony may struggle with some hereditary diseases:
- Musculoskeletal System: The Falabella pony can suffer from restrictions in the overall musculoskeletal system due to exterior flaws. These include weak joints, crooked legs, an oversized head, and spine issues as a result of a too-long back.
- Reproduction: Due to their small body size, mares may not be able to deliver their foals naturally. As a result, a cesarean section is performed after a gestation period of 13 months.
The Falabella has two anatomical peculiarities. First, it lacks the 18th rib. Second, relative to its body size, it has a large heart.
Despite its size, a Falabella has the same needs as all other horse breeds. A Falabella should never be kept alone as it is a social animal that needs the company of other equines. It feels most comfortable in a herd with ponies of its size. It also needs ample exercise, either through keeping it in an open barn or regular access to a paddock.
Because of its size and low body weight, this breed is prone to getting cold quickly. Ensure that it has shelter and provide a blanket during cold temperatures.
Another important aspect of caring for the pony is proper fencing. Because of its small stature, the lowest strand of fencing should be set low enough to ensure that it can’t slip underneath.
Typically, a Falabella is a breed that needs little food. It’s an efficient eater and tends to become overweight. When feeding, you should consider the following:
- Forage: A sufficiently large amount of forage, either in the form of high-quality hay or silage, should form the basis of a Falabella’s diet. Generally, 1-1.5kg of hay per 100kg of body weight is recommended. For a Falabella, this is less than 1kg of hay. Given horses’ sensitive digestion, this is too little. Thus, it’s essential to try to slow down feed intake, for example, using hay nets.
- Concentrates: As Falabella is prone to being overweight, it often needs no or very little concentrated feed. Adjust the amount based on your pony’s needs.
- Mineral feed: Your veterinarian or feed consultant can advise whether or not your pony requires mineral feed and if so, how much it needs.
The Falabella has three basic yet light-footed gaits: walk, trot, and canter.
Can you ride a Falabella?
Due to its small size, a Falabella pony is not suitable for riding.
Suitable Disciplines for a Fallabella
Although the breed isn’t suitable for riding due to its size, it’s excellent for pulling light carriages. It’s also very popular as a leisure or show horse.
Interested in carriage training? Our online course teaches everything you need to know to get started with carriage driving.
The Falabella as a Guide Horse
Due to their gentleness, size, intelligence, and long lifespan, small horses like the Falabella, the Shetland pony, or the Mini Shetland have recently become daily companions for blind people. They have taken on typical guide dog tasks.
How much does a Falabella cost?
The price varies based on age, health, and training. The price also depends on whether the pony is purebred, has documents, a certificate of origin, and pedigree or not. On average, you can expect prices between $1,000 – $3,000.
With a height of 65 – 90cm, the Falabella is the smallest horse breed in the world. Because of its gentle, affectionate, intelligent, and curious nature, it’s excellent for pulling light carriages, as a leisure or show horse, or as a guide horse.