Ponies are great. Ponies are cute. Ponies can sometimes be the devil. Shetlands have a reputation for being tiny little spitfires, and as a child who often rode naughty little shetlands, I can attest from personal experience that it’s true. Small ponies, BIG personalities! But even Shetlands can’t quite match the tiny little sass all packaged up in the falabellas! Falabella horses are exactly that – horses, not ponies, despite their pocket size. Some people have dogs larger than these cute little guys and gals. Call them miniature horses, call them “micro-mini’s”, the bottom line is, these guys are SMOL!
Every day that I head to the barn, I stop and pat the teeny tiny little noses of our resident falabellas, Latte and Billy. They whinny for a treat, and sure enough as if guided by a force beyond my control, my hand drifts to my pocket and magically re-emerges with a horsie-cookie. They take it from my flattened hand and CROMCH as they chew, their munching usually accompanied by another little whinny of gratitude and enthusiastic nods of their heads. You know, the same kind of excitement that I feel when when I get to eat port wine cheese.
Latte, Billy, and a small herd more of these little guys ended up in rescue because – hold on, I have to metaphorically cover their ears – they were at risk of becoming tiger food. Tigers, you know, like the countless tigers in captivity in zoos run by the Joe Exotic’s of the world, the Doc Antle’s, and the Jeff Lowe’s. I won’t get into my viewpoints about the ethics of such practices in general, but I will unapologetically state that I don’t agree with breeding-to-feed.
Don’t make the mistake of thinking that just because these guys are SMOL, they don’t require as much exercise and stimulation as any “regular-sized” horse. Latte and Billy enjoy doing all of the activities that the bigger horses participate in, including but not limited to being groomed, working in-hand, and they don’t even shy away from tackling the challenge of trail obstacles that are sized for our large horses! Little but fierce, pocket-sized but fearless.
Although only VERY small children could only ever appropriately ride a falabella, they are often wonderful “cart-ponies” and they excel at driving. They lift their heads up proudly and prance like royalty…. did I mention that falabellas LOVE to show off? Like our pack of little dogs, they know they’re adorable and they milk it to their advantage 😉
Fun facts about falabellas:
- The Falabella is known as the Original miniature horse.
- They originated in Brazil, South America, in the mid-19th Century
- They grow to about 32 inches at the withers
- Falabellas are usually only black or brown – but we have all sorts of colors in rescue including little spotted appy-butts, grays, paints, and more
- In the 1940s, Julio Falabella created a formal breed registry
- One special use for this amazing little horse is search and rescue.