IN his continuing search for the more weird and wondrous in this world, David Ellis says there’s a horse in America that looks like any other except for one thing – she stands only about as high as, or even less than, many a family pet dog.
Thumbelina as she is named, is a dwarf off-spring of a couple of extreme miniature horses known as Falabellas, that themselves grow only to between 70 and 86 centimetres tall (20 to 34 inches.) And in her case she is half that at a mere 43cm high (17 inches) and weighs in at a very petite 26kg (57 pounds)… or about the size of an Aussie kelpie.
The Falabella was originally developed in Argentina from a rare species of horse discovered there in the mid-1800s, and introduced to America in the 1940s for their novelty value in hauling miniature stagecoaches in street parades and around wineries.
When Thumbelina was born, her owners on a farm in Missouri realised she was highly intelligent and trainable, and today after having put her through some specially-designed training programs, are able to take her to visit sick children in hospitals and clinics, and like a guide dog, to lead elderly locals on shopping and other outings.
And as she was born with foot defects, they have designed special shoes for her so that when not “working” with children and the elderly, Thumbelina can run and play with the other regular Falabella miniature horses on her Missouri farm.