In 1962, Julio Cesar Falabella, whose ranch was near Buenos Aires, Argentia, sold some midget ponies to President Kennedy's family, an event that brought instant fame to the Falabella Ranch's colorful and attractive horses. The Falabella strain of miniatures was originally started in 1868 by Julio's great-grandfather, Patrick Newell. When Newell died, he passed on the herd and his breeding methods to his son-in-law, Juan Falabella. Juan added European Shetland blood and, with considerable inbreeding, was able to gain consistently small size within the herd. Juan's son, Emilio Falabella, later passed the herd on to his son, Julio Cesar Falabella. In 1980, when Julio Cesar passed away, both the herd and ranches were divided between his second wife, Maria Luisa, and his daughter, Maria Angelica.
Today, Maria Angelica Falabella resides in the United States, although she maintains a breeding herd of aproximately 200 animals in Argentina. She also maintains a 100% pure Falabella herd of about 70 animals in Roebuck, South Carolina. When new blood is desired, she obtains individuals from her herd in Argentina and does not include any miniatures of non-Falabella lineage.
Many of the little horses are vividly marked with appaloosa spots, which could not have been inherited from Shetland Ponies, as the pattern does not occur in that breed. For this reason, it is possible that the Criollo and the short-legged Petizo, both Argentinean ponies, as well as other native stock, contributed to some of the original herds breeding animals.
Also in the early 1960's, the Regina Winery of Edwina, California, imported some stock from the Falabella family herd in Argentina. Some of these horses were later acquired by a few California miniature breeders. Probably the best known of the Regina Winery's importations of miniatures was the appaloosa stallion "Chianti" (purchased by Dixie Blasingame) and the solid brown mare Regina (purchased by Ron and Sami Scheuring).
Famous persons acquiring the miniatures, included David Sarnoff (president of NBC) and actors Yul Brynner, who had two Falabellas in Switzerland, and Helmut Dantine. Many Falabella-bred miniatures have since been imported from Argentina, and there are a few breeders who now specialize in Falabella stock.
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