History and Fables
Originally Falabella horses were exclusively bred on the Senor Falabella Ranch in Argentina. Falabella are real mini horses, no small ponies such as Shetlanders. However, size is not their most important characteristic, but their harmonic, even and perfect proportions, the petite bone structure, slim stomach and thin flanks, as well as their gentle character. There are many historical facts and fables about the Falabella: During the 15th century, Spaniards brought horses to Argentina which were descendants of the Andalusian and Spanish Berber horses that were famous for their strength and stamina; even under hard conditions. The Spaniards who tried to conquer Argentina lost and their horses were set to roam free. Centuries later the number of horses naturally reduced due to the harsh climate and poor availability of food.
Its been told that a herd of horses got trapped in a crevice where only cacti where available to eat. There is a similar tale regarding Hereford cows that got trapped in a crevice in the Rocky Mountains. When they were found their descendants were smaller due to the lack of food and nutrients. Around the year 1840 Patrick Newell discovered the small horses near Buenos Aires. He fetched the smallest and started a breeding program with the goal to breed a small horse. He past his experience on to his son in law Juan Falabella who past it on to his own son Emilio, who again past his knowledge on to his son Julio Falabella.
Another tale: Juan Falabella send a herd of full-blooded horses to a meager windy region in Patagonia and forgot them there. Years later his grandchildren remembered his horses but when they got there they only found a herd of small horses. Apparently only the tiniest had survived because they could find shelter under low bushes and could browse there.
In the course of many years the Falabella family bred different breeds of horses including the Argentinian Criollo horse and horses with Pinto an Appaloosa traits. In 1950 Julio Falabella inherited the farm from his father. By then, they had a herd of middle sized Falabella of all colors including Pintos and some of the rare and colorful Appaloosa who were their favorites.
In 1937 the stallion Napoleon I was born on the Falabella Ranch in Argentina, it was a chestnut colored stallion, small ca. 70 cm at the withers. This horse would pass one of the best bloodlines to Falabella breed and was the favorite of the Falabella family. At a wealthy age of 42 years, this stallion died. At that time it was claimed that he was the oldest living horse in the world. On the Falabella ranch in Argentina has erected a monument to him.