Horse Breeds Young Rider

Meet the Haflinger

A galloping Haflinger Horse
All Haflingers are chestnut, but the shade can vary from pale to liver, always with white or flaxen manes and tails. Photo by Zuzule/Shutterstock

Known for their distinctive golden chestnut color and white or flaxen mane and tail, the Haflinger breed traces back to the Tyrolean mountains of present-day Austria and Northern Italy near the Tyrolean village of Hafling, which gives the breed its name. Because of their origin from the mountains, the breed is stocky with strong hindquarters, and has hard hooves suited to rocky trails and hard ground.

As early as Medieval times through to the 1800s, these horses were used as a packhorse and for transporting goods between villages. Because they lived in close quarters with their owners, this helped Haflingers develop a personable, affectionate personality.

Haflingers were also used in World War II because of their height and stockiness. Soldiers were able to use them as a packhorse for transporting goods and fallen soldiers from the battlefield.

All Haflingers can be traced back to a single stallion in 1874 named 249 Folie. Folie was sired by a half-Arabian stallion, 133 El’ Bedavi XXII, and out of a refined native Tyrolean mare.

There are only seven bloodlines—A, B, M, N, S, ST, and W—allowed for a Haflinger to be registered as a purebred today. Because of its small gene pool, the Haflinger has a very specific appearance that is easily recognizable.

Today’s Haflinger

The modern-day Haflinger is considered a “jack of all trades,” as it is now found all over the world, and takes part in many different disciplines. These include dressage, jumping, eventing, vaulting, driving, western disciplines, trail riding, endurance riding, and many also make great therapeutic riding horses. Haflingers often hold their own in competition against other breeds.

A girl rides a Haflinger Horse
Haflingers make great mounts for English or western riding, and are superb driving horses. Photo by Patrik Slezak/Shutterstock

Because of their pleasant temperaments, Haflingers easily become part of the family. Their people-loving, willing and forgiving temperament make them perfect for riders of all ages, especially younger riders.

At a Glance

According to the American Haflinger Registry, the official breed registry in the U.S., the breed should stand between 13.2 and 15 hands tall. Even though relatively small, a Haflinger is a horse, not a pony.

A mare and foal trot in a field
Facial markings are considered desirable on Haflingers, although leg markings are not. Photo by Zuzule/Shutterstock

By having intelligence, dependability, athleticism, gracefulness, stamina, strength and an excellent personality, Haflingers continue to capture the hearts of many equestrians.

This article about the Haflinger Horse appeared in the Summer 2020 Digital Mini issue of Young Rider magazine. Click here to subscribe!

Sara Tromba

Sara Tromba has been a new intern for Horse Illustrated since April 2020. She is a current student at Averett University located in Danville, VA, majoring in Business Administration and Equine Management. Currently, she serves as a captain for her school's IHSA team and team rider for both IHSA and IDA. She is an aspiring equine photographer based in the Danville, VA, area. She also is an eventer and has a soft spot for Thoroughbreds and German Shepherds.


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