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Falabella Horse

Oliver Jones

The Falabella horse is a miniature horse, rather than a pony, and it will usually only average a height of between 6 and 7 hands high. Although the precise origin of the horse is contested, the Falabella likely originates from Argentina. Today’s Falabella is considered friendly, gentle, affectionate, and loyal. It comes in a variety of colors, can be used for riding and dressage. It is considered a healthy breed that does not have any specific health conditions, with a life expectancy of up to 45 years.

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Quick Facts about Falabella Horses

Species Name: Equus ferus caballus
Family: Equidae
Uses: Riding, jumping, dressage
Climate: Warm
Temperament: Friendly, energetic, loyal
Color Form: Various
Lifespan: 45 years
Size: Maximum 8 horse hands
Diet: Hay, grass, grains, and vegetables
Compatibility: Gets along with people, kids, and most other animals

Falabella Horse Overview

Falabella pony galloping
Image Credit: horsemen, Shutterstock

The Falabella horse is a miniature horse breed that averages 7 hands high and will reach a maximum of 8 hands. It is popular as a child’s horse that can be used for riding and dressage and is a healthy and hardy breed.

The breed is descended from the Andalusian and other Iberian breeds that were taken by the Spanish to Argentina in the 19th century. During the late 19th century, breeder Patrick Newtall started to intentionally breed the Falabella using Criollo stock, to create a small breed that had the proportions of larger horses but much smaller. Through considerable inbreeding, Newtall achieved his goal, and when he passed away, the secrets of the breeding program were passed to his son-in-law, Juan Falabella. He introduced new bloodlines, including the Shetland Pony, and some small Thoroughbreds, and he managed to further reduce the size of the breed while maintaining the desired physical dimensions.

A breed registry was established in the 1940s. Initially, the horse needed to measure less than 39 inches to be considered a Falabella, but more recent efforts reduced this so that the modern breed averages 30 inches.

The breed is now kept for show or as a pet, but it can be ridden by small children and it may even be capable of pulling a small cart. The breed was once considered endangered and is still “at risk”, as of 2020.

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How Much Do Falabellas Cost?

Falabellas are at risk, which means that they are a rare breed. Despite this, they are popular as pets and for use in shows and exhibitions. As such, they can attract a high price, with standard examples fetching upwards of $1,000 and show standard Falabellas potentially costing as much as $15,000 or more.

The high cost and rarity of the breed mean that it is unlikely that you will find one in a rescue or shelter. If you do, ensure that you find out as much as you can of its history, including health checks, but you may only have to pay a few hundred dollars in adoption fees.

Typical Behavior & Temperament

The Falabella is gentle and docile and it can become a loving and loyal pet. It is this temperament, combined with the diminutive stature of the breed, that has made it a popular breed with kids. It can be led around and even ridden without becoming aggressive or even angry.

Appearance & Varieties

The Falabella is one of the smallest horse breeds in the world. They are muscular and strong animals, especially for a breed of this size, and they generally share the same proportions as a larger horse, except that they are half the height. They have silky hair and fine skin, small feet, and can come in almost any color coat.

The breed is most commonly found in bay or black solid colors. However, they also come in palomino, pinto, and other spotted patterns. Rare varieties include the black and red leopard-spotted Falabellas.

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How to Take Care of Falabellas

Like all horses, the Falabella needs exercise, food, and access to fresh water. They also need room to graze and they benefit from human contact. Although the exact amount of land and other factors you offer can vary, use the following as a guide.

Pasture

The amount of pasture you need to provide your little horse depends on whether it will be stabled at night or not. If not, you should look to provide around one acre of pasture. If it will come in at night, you can half this and will only need to provide half an acre, on average, for each Falabella.

The pasture does need to be grassy. It should be cleared of pooh or harrowed regularly and it needs to be securely fenced. All pastures need to have a supply of fresh drinking water for the Falabella.

Stable

Whether you intend to stable your horse at night or not, and whether your Falabella chooses to shelter or not, you need to provide at least a three-sided shelter. This protects against the wind and rain, but also the sun. The shelter can be a small shed. Some owners are known to use tents because they’re easy to move and they’re easy to put back up when your horse decides to knock them over.

Falabella walking in the snow
Image Credit: Zuzule, Shutterstock

Do Falabellas Get Along with Other Pets?

The Falabella is an intelligent breed, which means that it can be trained successfully. It is also a friendly and level-headed animal, so it can be kept with other animals. In fact, this breed is often kept with larger horses but may also be kept with other miniatures, and it will get along with dogs, cats, and other farm animals.

The Falabella can be kept as an indoor pet, although this does require some additional effort, and you must always remember that, even though it is a miniature, the Falabella is still a strong horse.

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What to Feed Your Falabella

The breed prefers to be a grazing animal and should be given access to natural grasses and grains in their pasture and as part of their daily diet. Ideally, your horse will have access to good grass in its pasture. Otherwise, you will have to provide quality hay, which will usually make up around 80% of their diet or more.

You can add some grains and proprietary mixture to make up 10% of the diet and these can provide an effective way of offering vitamins and minerals that your Falabella does not get in their diet. Provide at least two full nets of hay per miniature, per day. Always ensure that you offer regular and refreshed water to your miniature horse.

Keeping Your Falabella Healthy

The Falabella is a hardy and healthy animal, but it can be prone to colic. The breed does have a sweet tooth but horses are unable to vomit. The size of the horse means that colic is more likely in this breed than others, and in serious cases, it can lead to death. To help prevent colic, ensure clean water, offer pasture turnout, and avoid feeding hay on sandy surfaces while only feeding grain and pellets when necessary.

Breeding

A mare will usually get pregnant at around 3 years of age, but it can take some mares a year longer. As soon as the mare is in heat, which usually occurs as soon as spring temperatures rise, it is time for breeding. The gestation period is around 300 days, although you may have to wait as long as 380 days.

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Are Falabella Horses Suitable For You?

The Falabella is a gentle, caring, and loyal breed, that is intelligent and makes a good pet while also being a good riding horse for small children. The tiny breed, which is one of the smallest horse breeds in the world, is a rare breed and can cost upwards of $1,200. While it is a miniature breed, the Falabella still requires plenty of outdoor space in which to exercise, graze, and live, although some people have successfully kept them as indoor pets. Provide fresh water, ensure they have a good diet, and take active steps to prevent colic, and your miniature could live as long as 45 years.


Featured Image Credit: Grezova Olga, Shutterstock

Oliver Jones

Oliver (Ollie) Jones - A zoologist and freelance writer living in South Australia with his partner Alex, their dog Pepper, and their cat Steve (who declined to be pictured). Ollie, originally from the USA, holds his master's degree in wildlife biology and moved to Australia to pursue his career and passion but has found a new love for working online and writing about animals of all types.