Down in Argentina, Senor Julio Falabella, who has continued the careful line-breeding program begun by his great-grandfather more than 200 years ago, might be called the father of the Falabella Miniature Horses.
For Sr. Falabella, who maintains two ranches – La Francesa, 12,000 acres in Azul, and the smaller Recreo de Roca, 1,000 acres, a short distance from Buenos Aires – is now the only horseman in the world to have developed a herd of some 400 perfect specimens in miniature of Appaloosas, Pintos (piebalds and skewbalds), and Palominos, as well as bays, chestnuts, blacks, browns and grays.
The Falabella Miniature Horse’s size is certainly impressive. At birth, a foal weighs one pound and two ounces, and measures eight inches at the withers. Full grown (at two years) the horses of this breed range between 26 and 30 inches and weigh up to 120 pounds. These rare little horses are equally impressive, though, for their excellent proportion, conformation and disposition. They are definitely not dwarfs, pygmies or mutations; nor do they have any chunky, pony-like features. They are all “real horse” in looks, gaits, manners and hardiness (life expectancy is 40 years); and they are generally considered to be above average in intelligence.
Being of an exceptionally docile friendly nature, yet also spirited, these tiny equines respond to training amazingly fast and well. They can be ridden by children up to about 8 years of age, and can be driven with a small cart – as they are at Sr. Falabella’s Recreo de Roca, where he keeps 20 or 30 of them, and where their deportment both inside the house and out is exemplary – dignified and obedient.
All of those that have had any training whatever have learned to take all gaits on command, and they thoroughly enjoy jumping (three feet and higer). Some, with only a few lessons, have mastered appealing tricks, such as shaking hands, kneeling and bowing, and there is no question that a Falabella can be taught to perform feats that would do justice to the best trained liberty horse or high-school horse of larger breeds.
Only recently has Sr. Falabella agreed to export his miniatures on any sizable scale. They are now being imported into the U.S., via airlines, by Sr. Falabella’s agent: Falabella Miniature Horse Farms, Scarborough-on-Hudson, New York. They are shipped in crates about the same size as those used for Great Danes, and seem to take to travel very well. Ports of entry are at Miami and New York, where they go through the Department of Agriculture’s Bureau of Animal Health Inspection to receive their health certificates. They are then sold F.O.B Miami or New York and delivered by air or van to their final destinations.
In that they thrive in any climate, the comparatively few that have been purchased so far, in different parts of the country, have flourished in their new homes. They arrive equipped with suitably-sized halters and blankets, but of course, all other tack, properly small, is manufactured in Argentina and is available to owners.
Sr. Falabella is a man of many interests, and is obviously successful at them all. In addition to raising these remarkable little horses, he raises wheat and has a stud farm at Recreo de Roca for racing horses. He emerged first in prize money last year at the famed race track at La Plata, outside of Buenos Aires. He has also raised a prize herd of almost 4,000 Herefords, and is presently breeding the finest Romney Marsh sheep for exposition purposes.
But the extra pride he takes in his namesake miniature horses is unmistakable, and he has every right to be extremely pleased with the appreciative reception these beautiful little horses are now receiving outside Argentina.