Falabella history - The Facts
Updated 30th March 2018
Photo: Susan Eckholdt
A Falabella standing under a full size horse
at the Recreo de Roca ranch in Argentina - November 1962.
The Falabella is the Original miniature
horse. It has been bred on the Falabella ranch in Argentina for over
150 years and it’s story began in 1845 when an Irish man named Patrick
Newtall discovered that the tribes of pampas Indians had some unusually
small horses along with their larger riding horses. He managed to
obtain some and by 1853 he had created a herd of small, perfectly built
little horses of around 102cms. In 1879 he transferred his findings,
herd and knowledge to his son-in-law, Juan Falabella. Juan continued
the experiment by using other breeds to develop this small horse – the
smallest English thoroughbreds he could find, Shetland ponies and
Criollo – the Argentine horse of the pampas.
the death of Julio Cesar Falabella in 1980 the horses were divided
equally between his only child Maria Anjelica Falabella and his wife
Maria Luisa de Falabella.
Falabella Atonada (left) and Equuleus Extra Terrestrial, by Limelight's Point Break.
Photo: Ray Mumford
Perhaps because the Falabella is still considered to be relatively rare, there has been a tendency in recent years for people to breed with horses that are not of sufficient breeding quality. The Falabella is not so rare that it is in danger of becoming extinct and breeders should have a duty to adhere to the Breed Standard.
The Falabella is not supposed to have a thick neck or a big head. It is supposed to be a refined little horse and should look like a scaled down English thoroughbred or Arabian, with head in proportion to body.
The Equuleus Falabella stud has been very selective over four decades.
Founded on four of the greatest Falabella horses ever sold by the late Julio Cesar Falabella during the 1970’s.
They were:- Menelek, Chico, Morenita and Al Graten.
These horses were ahead of their time and of a quality hard to find, even today.
There are many misconceptions about the
Falabella breed, and I would like to take this opportunity to talk
about a few of them. When Lord and Lady Fisher visited the Falabella
ranch in the early seventies they later reported that the horses were
all running together and that stallions fought for and selected their
own mares. As the late J.C. Falabella was a HORSEMAN, I thought this
was unlikely and this was one of my main reasons for wanting to meet
Maria Falabella – to get an answer to this question and a number of
others, which had puzzled Falabella enthusiasts for many years.
groups (harems) retain their integrity over many years. The young males
eventually leave the group to join bachelor groups, from which
individuals break away to form new harems. These are composed of young
maturing fillies, as they too leave their original group. Some older
mares that have become stragglers from their original harem may be
incorporated into the new group. Mating occurs between the family
stallion and his mares. The presence of the stallion is respected by
other stallions, so there is little or no fighting.’
in mind that this is when they have plenty of space, if you keep
stallions in close proximity, it can be a different matter.
Remember that in order to be certain of obtaining a
genuine Falabella it should be registered with the
European or British Falabella Studbook.
are the ONLY two authorized studbooks, sanctioned by the Mother
Studbook in Argentina. Both ‘parentage qualify’ via the DNA test. The
Dutch test can sometimes also pick up
‘non Falabella’ markers in cases where it is impossible to
parentage-qualify – for example if one parent has died. Be VERY
suspicious if a breeder refuses to register a horse with them. Remember
that there are far more partbred/blend Falabellas (with fraudulent
than genuine Falabellas. Because of the large sums of money involved
breeders are loathe to admit their horses are not genuine – not of 100%
People regularly contact me to say
they know they have a genuine Falabella because it is very tiny and/or
Misleading claims on the internet would suggest that certain Falabella horses have arrived from Argentina ‘in vitro’. This is untrue.
The Falabella A Breed?
to misleading claims on the internet, the Falabella was always intended
to look like a scaled down English thoroughbred or Arabian horse, not a
Only exceptional quality
horses (that conform to the Breed Standard) should be considered for
Many American Miniature Horses owe their heritage to Falabella bloodlines.
Lady Erica of
exquisite first generation Falabella mare bred by Mr Albert Shepherd,
former UK ACCF director.
Photo: Limelight's Animals
Sue with Maria Luisa de Falabella 1997.
In recent years, since the sad death of Maria Luisa de Falabella in 2007, the Falabella horses have been moved to the family’s 8000 hectare ranch some 1000 kms north of Buenos Aires. There is also a 45 hectare area close to the capital where the horses for sale are taken and to which visitors are given access.
Falabella Breed Standard
Falabella Breeding Targets as issued by the Falabella Studbook Europe in Association with the ACCF .
of 100% purebred Falabellas, in addition to promotion of breeding
efforts concerning Falabella stock of a healthy constitution: a
miniature horse with a correct, functional, and harmonic makeup,
emanating health and vitality, and a friendly nature.
The breeding targets consist of a number of characteristics.
Build: Harmonious, balanced, and well proportioned. Delicate bone structure and slim belly and flanks.
Shoulder height: Shoulder height of three-year-old Falabella mares and stallions ranges between 70 and 86 cm. In order to preserve their small size, this characteristic will be marked as an important breeding target (measured unshod).
Head: The head has a delicate and noble build, with large expressive eyes. A straight forehead, or slightly curved below eye-level. The muzzle should be appropriately slender.
Ears: Well placed and small ears, positioned attentively with the tips slightly pointed towards each other.
Coat colour: All colours are possible and permitted.
Neck: The neck and nape of the neck are long and slender, well-carried, flexible, appropriately muscular, and not overly deep into the chest.
Shoulder: The shoulder is long and slanted, with well-developed withers.
Legs: Good square conformation, well developed joints without flaws, without overly extended pasterns, with good feet.
Back / haunches: Well-muscled, good transitions, not too long, and not ribbed too roundly.
Croup / tail: Long, slightly slanted with a well-set tail in a flowing line from the croup, carried straight.
Movement: Correctly active foreleg from the shoulder. Using hind leg well placed underneath the body with a great deal of power and suppleness.
Breeding target: The target of the breeding process is based on making long-term progress. Preserving genetic variation within the population is an important point. Limitation of inbreeding is crucial, on closed Falabella stock farms in particular. Inbreeding is among the causes of hereditary defects, reduced fertility, and shortened life expectancy.
The breeding programme consists of several components.
Stock characteristics are to be assessed during
Foals From January 2011: Foals are entered into the studbook register after DNA reports have been completed. A provisional certificate is issued by the studbook, characterised by different colour and printing. Final certification may occur three years later, after the foal has become eligible for external and veterinary inspections.
External and Veterinary Inspections: Upon registration of a mare and stallion aged three years and up, the Falabella concerned is required to be subjected to a linear score and subsequent veterinary inspection, for purposes of health and other aspects of the Falabella. The inspection regulations will provide all the directives and regulations concerned.
Offspring verification: Prior to entry of mares, stallions, or foals in the studbook register, DNA research will be conducted to verify parenthood of both parents and the Falabella DNA profile.
In the interest of mare well-being, mares are not allowed
to be covered prior to the third year of their lives. The same applies
to stallions. They are not allowed to be employed as studs prior to the
third year of their lives.
Inbreeding: FSE advise breeders to prevent narrow inbreeding in their breeding programmes. As of March 1, 2011, FSE will issue a new supplementary software package, enabling calculation of an inbreeding coefficient. Calculation of an inbreeding coefficient requires lineage information; reliability of outcomes will increase as further generations are included in the process. Breeders will be provided with the results as soon as the process has been completed.
Hereditary defects: Any potential hereditary deficits will be carefully recorded. FSE intend to increase their insight into genetics by collecting DNA data in the future.
Falabellas are special, honest, sweet, and intelligent by
nature. These are among the main characteristics of this race. Every
individual Falabella in the breeding programme has great breeding value
for the Falabella studbook. This is due to the rare and pure stock of
this miniature breed of horses, free from external influences, cross
breeding, and manipulation. In addition, in 1995, FSE assigned Wim van
Haeringen to conduct a special investigation directed at recording the
unique DNA data of European Falabellas, as well as a selection of male
and female Falabellas from Argentina. These efforts resulted in a
Falabella DNA ProfileTest, used to verify whether Falabellas are of
pure stock, carrying the same 'blueprint' as their Argentine ancestors.
The FBPT is reserved exclusively to FSE. If FBPT results indicate that
a specific Falabella does not match this 'blueprint', it will not be
registered in the studbook. The additional information, such as the
Linear Assessment and the Veterinary Inspection are the perfect answer
to this standard, providing better means to manage the options of
genetic selection of our breed.