The Falabella is a horse that possesses all the features and attributes of its taller relatives. The fixed nature of the genetic characteristics of the Falabella allows for their natural reproduction. Offspring are bred with the same temperament. Average heights are approximately between 28 in. (0.70 m) and 31 in. (0.77 m) in a young horse (2-3 years old). For mature horses, one can expect a height between 30 in. (0.76 m) and 32.5 in. (0.83m). Smaller and bigger horses are exceptional. These minihorses' proportions are in complete harmony.
There is a wide range of colors for the breed. Black or brown is the most common; pintos, bay and chestnut are among the very attractive combinations. There is no Appaloosa in the Falabella breed. Appaloosa is a kind of horse originally from North America. Black or red spotted Falabellas (improperly called Appaloosa) are uncommon and there are few in the Falabella herds.
In contrast to other horses habitually referred to as miniature in the world today--many of them transmit irregular size, temperament and conformation to their descendants--the Falabella does not require any artifice during gestation and rearing to achieve its small size.
Their natural rusticity and capacity to adapt to their environment allow Falabellas to survive in severe weather conditions, sometimes far better than their taller relatives, without any special care that may be required for another type of horse.
The outstanding characteristics of the Falabella are his temperament and his capacity to adjust to its environment. Though a gregarious and rustic animal in the field, the mere continuous company of man makes the Falabella a gentle and docile animal.
Given the strong sun, cold southwestern winds ("El Pampero"), fierce storms and aridity of the land, the horses were obliged to move great distances to find water and pasture. This gave them incomparable resistance; their keen instincts and ability to sense anger were sharpened by the persecution of the Indian or the puma.
The origin of the Falabella horse is intimately linked to the origins of the horse in Latin America. The Andalusian horses that the Spaniards brought with them to accomplish the enormous task of the conquest, chosen for their rusticity and resistance, were later left to survive on their own due to unsuccessful attempts to conquer the area's human inhabitants.
Wandering without destination over the vast plains ("pampas"), the surviving horses underwent by necessity a series of biological processes and structural changes in order to adapt to the new conditions, so different from those of their native land.
All these factors, along with continuous inbreeding and isolation, surely caused genetic mutations in successive generations. This resulted in the kind of horse that the ancestors of the Falabella family are said to have seen for the first time before the mid-nineteenth century in the herds of Mapuche Indians of southern Buenos Aires province in Argentina.
After many years of crossing and selection, the Falabella family achieved a herd of harmonious and well-structured horses less than 40 inches in height, maintaining the same proportions in their features as those of the horses Falabella had first acquired.
The Falabella family sought to improve the breed and refine the shape of the horse. To attain these goals, Falabella introduced specimens of Europeans breeds, small Thoroughbreds, Welsh ponies, Shetlands, small horses from Eastern Europe, Criollos and their siblings. Successive generations of the Falabella family raised very small horses significantly more harmonious in form than their predecessors and reduced the height to the present standard of less than 30 inches.
After 1940, Julio C. Falabella started a registry of birth and genealogical details for some of his horses. Due to his remarkable memory and some older data available to him, he was able to attain, by inference, genealogies up to approximately twenty years back. This primary Registry, not always methodical, was systematized in the mid-sixties, using classic genealogical techniques.
In 1980, while honoring the work done by J.C. Falabella for the development of the breed, Establecimientos Falabella decided to redesign the Registry. Incorporating new tools, like the computer, the chronological numerical order was changed, and ascending numbers from 1980 forward were assigned to the registration of each horse. Descending numbers, preceded by the "A" acronym were assigned to the horses born before 1980. Similarly, old annotations were researched and techniques were improved, giving the Registry the form it has at the present time.
Since the beginning of the 1950's, when the breed began to spread internationally, to the present time, sovereigns, international personalities and horse breeders have shown a great interest in the Falabella. It can be said, without hesitation, that there is no place in the word where a Falabella has not trodden. From Alaska to Tierra del Fuego (the southernmost tip in the world), from the torrid regions of the Arabic peninsula to the cold fjords of Norway, or from florid Japan to arid Atacama, the Falabella has been fed, or has procreated or has developed in astonishing form.