Carol & Gary with MiniVan.webp

Our Story

Welcome to the Shades of Blue Ranch! We are located in Hebron in northern Illinois. We breed pure Falabella miniature horses whose ancestry dates back to the Falabella farm in Argentina. We also raise American Miniatures. The miniature horses ("minis") are handled every day to ensure a gentle and loving attitude. We focus on training and preparing our horses for activity and therapy work, such as visiting nursing homes, homes for the disabled, schools, hospitals, etc. 

We have a small foal crop each year that are bred for temperament, conformation and color. 

How did we come to call the farm Shades of Blue Ranch? As we acquired more horses, Gary had to build more barns and that blue paint never seemed to be the same shade as the prior shades. Thus, "SHADES OF BLUE RANCH!"

We bought our first pure Falabella stallion by a fluke accidental switch at a miniature horse auction in 1997. That “fluke” is our foundation sire, Toyland El Rio Rey, affectionately known as "Buddy." We were smitten with minis and started breeding and raising select Falabella and American miniature horses.

Many of our miniature horses are doing therapy work with therapy programs all over the country, including SOUL Harbour Ranch in Barrington IL, SOUL Haven Ranch in Winter Garden Florida, Merciful Minis in Homer Glen IL, Miniature Rays of Sunshine in Green Bay WI, and numerous other therapy homes. We are proud of the amazing temperaments of our miniatures and we love that so many of them are sharing their unconditional love in therapy work. 

Love, Carol & Gary Swinford