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“World’s Smallest” Horse Breed
Laurie Stevens was smitten when she saw an article about “the world’s smallest horse breed” in a magazine in the early 1980’s. She appreciated the Falabella’s handsome physique, similar to the Arabian horses she already owned. She liked the idea of having that confirmation in a mini horse that is much easier to handle, so she purchased several Falabella horses. Forty years later, Stevens’s daughter, Laureen Stevens runs Toyland Miniature Horses.
Laurie passed away in 2022, leaving Laureen the business and 75 Falabellas.
“We sell breedable mares and stallions and also show animals,” Laureen says. “Now the big thing is using them for therapy to bring them into hospitals and nursing homes.”
Argentinian Juan Falabella and his son, Emilio, and grandson, Julio, bred native Argentine Criollo horses with other small horses to develop the breed. The first Falabellas were imported to the U.S. in the 1960’s. In 1995, Julio Falabella’s daughter moved to South Carolina with her horses. When she retired in 2006, Laurie purchased the entire herd, which included horses as small as 26 in. tall.
Only 2,010 are registered in the Falabella Miniature Horse Association (FMHA). Registered animals meet the same specs as mini–American horse breeds - up to 38 in. tall, weighing up to 176 lbs. Fully grown at 3 years old, a Falabella can carry up to 35 lbs., pull up to 264 lbs., run up to 20 mph, and live to 30 or 40 years old. They come in a variety of colors.
“They are intelligent and learn fast. You can housebreak them,” Stevens says, adding they have a gentle personality, so they are natural therapy animals.
They are healthy overall, with a heart the same size as regular-sized horses. One less set of ribs and one less vertebra make room for the big heart. The only common health challenge the breed has is issues with their teeth that may require dental work.
Stevens sells mostly to other breeders. Prices range from $3,500 to $15,000. More information can be found on the FMHA website, which Stevens coordinates.
She has sold them to buyers in warm and cold climates.
“In the winter, they even get a beard and thick winter coat and look like a little buffalo,” Stevens says.
Contact: FARM SHOW Followup, Falabella Miniature Horse Association, 33222 N. Fairfield Road, Round Lake, Ill. 60073 (ph 847-404-6201; Info@FalabellaFMHA.com; www.falabellafmha.com).

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2022 - Volume #46, Issue #6