The smallest breed of horse in the world at 78cm or 8 hands at the withers, the Falabella, even prior to its extinction, was one of the rarest breeds of horse on Earth, with only a few thousand individuals existing worldwide. Descended from Criollo horses in the geologically isolated areas of Argentina, an intensive breeding program was undertaken by the humorously named Patrick Newtall, which sought to mate the local horses with other small horse breeds such as the Shetland and Welsh ponies. The Falabella later derived its name from one of Newtall’s descendents in the 1940s, and all Falabellas that have ever existed all originated from Newtall’s ranch in Argentina.
Unlike other miniature species, the Falabella was not abnormally proportioned – rather, it retained an overall slim confirmation similar to that of the Arab. Neither was it a delicate species: Falabellas were very hardy horses due to their ancestry, and were able to breed even when advanced in age. Although their small size rendered them unable to perform draft work, Falabellas were intelligent horses that could be ridden by small children and be taught to pull appropriately sized carts. Most Falabellas had bay or black coats, although pinto coats were also commonly found. Unscrupulous horse dealers would often try to pass off other miniature horse breeds as Falabellas, and all authentic Falabellas were required to have the requisite documents and official certificates (known as equine ‘passports’) to confirm their pedigree bloodlines.
A very small percentage of Falabellas survived the initial fall-out following WWT, whereupon lack of numbers made it extremely difficult to continue breeding the horse. The last Falabella passed away in ----, according to Sydney’s records.