If you’re looking to buy a horse that will be a wonderful partner for many years, the Haflinger Horse might be perfect for you. The breed originated in Hafling, a small village in the mountainous Tyrol region of southern Austria. The foundation stallion of the breed, a Haflinger named 249 Folie, was born in 1874. It was reported that Folie was the result of breeding a native Tyrolean mare with a part-bred Arabian stallion.
The breed became popular in Austria because the horses were very sound and hardy. The Austrians let their young horses grow up in Alpine pastures where the thin air helped to make their hearts and lungs strong. They also gave their horses a lot of time to mature, waiting to break them until they were four years old.
Once they were trained to pull carts or carry packs, sure-footed Haflingers had no problem carrying loads up and down steep mountain trails. They also gained a reputation for being easy keepers, and they lived long, productive lives. Today, many Haflingers continue to be active well into their thirties.
Haflingers are sturdy, muscular little horses measuring 13.2 to 15 hands. They are any shade of chestnut or palomino, and they have long, flowing flaxen manes and tails. Excessive white markings aren’t encouraged by Haflinger breeders. White facial markings are fine, but more than one sock is frowned upon by breed enthusiasts.
One of the most important things Haflinger enthusiasts consider when breeding horses is temperament. A people-friendly, calm temperament is one of their top goals.
The American Haflinger Registry has a special “Disposition and Training” program that tests and rates American Haflingers. During the first test, the Haflinger is judged in hand to see how willing he is when worked on the ground with a halter and lead. The second test is driving and the third is under saddle. The judges rate each horse’s response to various obstacles, his willingness to perform and his disposition. The horses are also rated on calmness, obedience and trainability. The “Disposition and Training” program results let potential Haflinger purchasers and breeders know a little more about the personality of a horse they are interested in buying or using for breeding.
Today you can spot Haflingers in combined driving events, dressage shows and eventing competitions. They are great Pony Club mounts and super 4-H horses. They are a great ride for both kids and adults. If you’ve ever considered trying a Haflinger, learn more about the breed and find out where you can buy one at the American Haflinger Registry website at www.haflingerhorse.com.