16 Amazing Falabella Horse Facts
Falabella horses have a well-developed blood line with foundations from Andalusian and Iberian horses. Descended from horse stock in South America, this breed was developed in isolated conditions throughout much of the 1800s. This has led to a breed of horse that is equally proportioned to all other horse breeds, but one with one key difference: size.
A formal breed registry for Falabella horses was created in the 1940s and this effort has helped to stabilize the characteristics of the breed. In the first days of the registry, a Falabella horse conformed to breed standards when they stood at 40 inches. Today the breed standard hovers 10 inches below this.
#1. Falabella horses are one of the smallest breeds in the world today.
This horse seldom stands taller than 8 hands. In comparison, the average height for most other horse breeds is around 15 hands. This makes it qualify in size for “pony” status, but the breed is actually classified as a miniature horse.
#2. Falabellas weigh about the same as a large dog.
The average weight of a Falabella horse is about 70 pounds. This makes it about the same overall size as a large house dog. It also means this breed is one of the lightest ones that exists today, coming in at over 950 pounds lighter than the average horse.
Unlike dogs, however, the Falabella horse doesn’t typically show a craving for personal attention from their owner. They prefer to remain focused on the tasks that they are asked to complete. These horses are affectionate, but they prefer grooming and personal activities more than snuggling and games.
#3. Most US-based Falabella horses have the same bloodline.
Most of the miniature horses that are approved for meeting breed standards in the United States come from just 12 stallions. This is because the first horses of this breed were not brought into the US until 1962. A winery in California purchased a dozen stallions from John Aleno and they were used to drive a small stagecoach in local parades as a way to promote their wine.
#4. A direct descendent of the breed founder started the breed registry.
Julio Falabella is credited as being the first to create a formal registry for Falabella horses. The association was officially called the Falabella Horse Breeders Association.
#5. Several color variants and patterns meet breed standards.
Falabella horses are most commonly black or bay in color. This breed is also known to have palominos, pintos, and other spotted patterns. The genetics within the breed also allow for some of the Falabellas to resemble miniature Appaloose horses, though this is a rather rare circumstance.
#6. Falabella horses are one of the most consistent breeds available today.
Falabella horses are known for passing down their temperament to their offspring. Conformation and sizing is also consistently passed along from parents to foal. The foals of this breed are incredibly small, often standing just 12 inches tall at birth. It typically requires a Falabella horse 3 years for it to reach its mature adult size.
#7. It is possible to ride Falabella horses.
Because of their size, most people cannot ride a Falabella horse. The exception to this rule is small children, which can make it a good early training horse for some toddlers. Most Falabella horses are considered to be in-hand show horses, but they can be taught to drive carts. Show jumping is also a competitive exercise for this breed, though the jumping occurs without a rider.
#8. Falabella horses make excellent guide animals.
Due to their intelligence and relatively small size, Falabella horses can be trained to make an excellent guide animal. They can adapt to several disabilities and provide protections, insight, and assistance to those who may need extra help throughout their day.
This makes younger horses within this breed a valued commodity, though older horses are typically available in most communities. Older horses may be priced at $750, but younger horses may be priced at $10,000 or more based on their training and conformity.
In order for a Falabella to qualify as a guide horse, it must pass certain standards. It must stand less than 26 inches at the withers for accessibility. There must also be no health issues or genetic defects that could affect the future health of the horse.
#9. This breed is considered to be a warm-blooded horse.
Falabella horses have the agility of larger breeds, a certain quickness for their size, and other hot-blooded features, but the milder temperament of cold-blood breeds. A Falabella is generally a healthy horse breed, though some horses in this breed may be undersized compared to their already small adult size conformation.
Most Falabella horses, assuming they remain healthy and receive consistent care, can live well beyond 30 years. There are some instances of Falabella horses living well into their 40s.
#10. Falabella horses can be kept inside.
Although these horses will often live in stables with larger breeds, the Falabella horse is also small enough to be kept inside. With regular bathing and grooming, their presence is virtually odor-free indoors. Certain homes may wish to look at fitting their horse with rubber shoes or sneakers to prevent falls or damage to floors if they are going to be kept inside as a guide animal or a pet.
#11. Falabella horses eat the same things as other “regular” horse breeds.
Falabella horses are a grazing animal, so they prefer natural grasses and grains as part of their diet. Because of their size, the amount of “pasture” this horse needs are very minimal. A typical backyard will often produce enough grass for a single horse. Owners may need to provide trace mineral and salt supplements, however, to make sure the horse is able to meet its daily diet regimen.
#12. This breed of horse has a very severe sweet tooth.
Falabella horses love to eat sweet things. In a domestic environment, they can often learn how to access sweets that are stored in cabinets, closets, and even the refrigerator. Their favorite foods tend to be apples and sweet cereals, but this breed has also been known to steal a can of soda, eat candies, and will go to great lengths to steal chocolate if it happens to be around.
Because of this extreme sweet tooth, owners of Falabellas must be very careful about where they store sweets and how many they feed to the horse. The threat of an injury from trying to access sweets can be severe in some homes and the added calories from these sweets can be detrimental to the overall diet of the horse.
#13. Colic is a major problem for Falabella horses.
Although Falabella horses are a very hardy breed, their desire to pursue sweets can also put them at a high risk of colic. Since a horse cannot vomit, anything the horse eats must pass through their digestive tract. The size of the Falabella makes a colic incident more serious and is the reason why it is the most common cause of preventable deaths within the breed.
#14. Falabealla horses establish a social order the same way other horses do.
This small horse breed might look sweet and cuddly, but they still have the same behavioral issues and social order establishment procedures as other horse breeds. They will kick, bite, and be aggressive in other ways. The owner must become the “pack leader” for a successful experience. This also means that horses which show consistent aggressiveness will not qualify to become guide animals.
#15. Falbella horses do not get fleas.
For whatever reason, fleas are not attracted to miniature horses. This makes them a safe addition to virtually any home as a pet or a guide animal. These horses do shed twice per year and require a farrier to trim their hooves about every other month, but otherwise their care needs are rather minimal.
#16. Dwarfism isn’t a health concern with the Falabella breed.
Many veterinarians believe that all miniature horse breeds, including the Falabella, have some genetic markers that come from equine dwarfism. Thanks to the in-breeding and selective small-horse breeding from other breeds in the foundational days of the Falabella, the health effects from dwarfism are minimized and often non-existent.
There are more than 300 different types of equine dwarfism that are none to exist. The one issue that owners do face is a high incidence of birth defects and delivery issues simply because of the levels of in-breeding that once occurred with this breed.
These Falabella horse facts are a fun way to get to know this small breed in a better way. They are friendly horses, can make an excellent pet, and are a wonderful companion animal to children and those who may have physical disabilities. In many ways, they can even be a lifelong companion due to their longevity.
Their intelligence can sometimes make for difficult ownership moments, but overall, if you ask a miniature horse owner about their daily routine, they wouldn’t change a thing.