Haflinger Horse

Hardly any other breed of horse is as clearly recognizable as the Haflinger simply because of its external appearance. Medium-sized, compact, chestnut with light colored long hair - that's a Haflinger. Due to its sociable temperament, its flawless character, its handy size and its versatility , the Haflinger has developed into a real family horse. But even today, the hard-working little horses are still at work on mountain farms or when moving wood in the forest. They can be found under the saddle as well as in front of the carriage, are used for recreational riding and in tournaments. The Haflinger is a multi-talent - but it is often misunderstood.

Haflinger horse breed information


Important data at a glance

  • Origin: Tyrol, Austria
  • Main breeding area: Austria, Germany
  • Type: harmonious, well-proportioned, compact
  • Head: dry head with a broad forehead, straight to slightly concave bridge of the nose, large nostrils, small, flexible ears, lively, large eyes
  • Neck: relatively short but well set on, pyramidal
  • Body: relatively steep shoulders, broad chest, pronounced saddle area, long, strong back, compact rectangular horse, luxuriant long hair
  • Legs: lean, pastern and joints strong, well muscled hindquarters. Well formed, hard hooves
  • Size: According to the breed standard, between 138 and 148 cm at the withers, larger animals also occur, but these are not permitted for breeding .
  • Colours: All fox colors are permitted, from cabbage fox to isabelle. Markings on the legs only desirable to a limited extent, markings on the head only to a limited extent, for example a star or blaze , lantern undesirable.
  • Suitability: Leisure time, equestrian sport, driving sport

    Origin/Origin of the Haflinger

    When the Tyrolean horse breeder Josef Folie from the village of Hafling brought his mare to the Arabian stallion set up as a stallion in 1873 , he had no idea that this foal , born in 1874, would become the progenitor of a new breed of horse. Josef Folie hoped that the connection would give him a surefooted, lighter horse for working on the mule tracks in the mountains. His hopes were not only fulfilled, they were far exceeded. The gold fox colt, registered as "249 Folie", developed so well that he was used for breeding. He and his descendants are the progenitors of all Haflingers that are now bred on all continents. In 2005 there were about 250,000 Haflingers worldwide, which confirms the popularity of the cool blondes.

Over 100 years of breeding history

Measured against the history of other horse breeds, 100 years is not much - but some revolutionary things have happened to the Haflinger in these almost 150 years. When Folie was born, his homeland belonged to Austria. After the First World War, South Tyrol became Italian. significant stock of broodmares was in South Tyrol , only a few stallions were on Austrian territory. Fortunately, far-sighted breeders and horse lovers were found, mares were exported to Austria, stallions were set up in Italy as stallions. In this way, Haflinger breeding continued to develop on both sides of the Brenner Pass, despite all the political difficulties.

A state horse breeding commission was set up in Italy as early as 1921, and at the same time the first Haflinger horse breeding cooperative was founded in North Tyrol In the years between the wars, Haflinger breeding went well, in the 1930s many Haflingers were sold to the army, mainly for use in the mountains. This is how the blond all-rounders came to Bavaria, where they found many followers. The Second World War initially meant a turning point, but in the post-war years breeding was successfully expanded. In particular, the Tyrolean Haflinger Horse Breeding Association has made a valuable contribution to the international spread of the breed.

Breeding lines and crossings

Even though half of the Haflinger goes back to the Arabian Thoroughbred, further cross-breeding with foreign blood was severely restricted. Once the breed had established itself as a type, the aim was to keep it as pure as possible and improve it exclusively through targeted mating. The seven bloodlines A, B, M, N, H, S, St and W emerged, each of which has a famous founder: Anselmo, Bolzano, Massimo, Nibbio, Hofrat, Salurn, Student and Willi. The A and N lines are among the best known today.

After Arabs were crossed in to improve riding horse characteristics in some countries, contrary to the breeding guidelines of the Tyrolean Haflinger Breeding Association, new studbooks were created for the noble blood Haflinger and Arab-Haflinger breeds , also known as Arabo-Haflingers.

One of the unfortunate aspects of Haflinger breeding is that there are breeding farms, primarily in Italy and France, that breed Haflingers exclusively for horse meat production. Every year, the Tyrolean Breeding Association also sells colts for slaughter that are not suitable for breeding. Haflinger foals are bought again and again in order to save them from slaughter according to the motto "Haflinger in need".

Little is known about the fact that Haflingers are also used for food production - and not as animals for slaughter, but for the production of mare's milk. Haflinger mares usually have so much milk that half can be milked off and there is still enough left for the foal. A large part of the mare's milk available for human consumption in Germany is obtained from Haflinger mares.

Description of the Haflinger horses

Haflingers are sociable in nature, visually an eye-catcher among horses and versatile - it is not for nothing that they are one of the most popular ponies par excellence. The breed, originally from South Tyrol, has developed from a robust draft and pack horse into a modern, rideable family and leisure pony that impresses with a wide range of possible uses. Whether dressage and jumping exercises, driving or trail riding, Haflingers always prove to be reliable and sure-footed companions. But their noble appearance is also more than impressive, because with their harmonious, medium-strong building they appear robust and yet elegantt. Anyone who meets them usually recognizes the breed straight away and this without being a horse expert - the typical chestnut color paired with light-colored long hair is unmistakable with the Haflinger.


The Haflinger reaches a height of about 138 to 148 centimeters and presents itself as a medium-strong, noble pony with correct, strong forms and a harmonious physique. The well-attached, dry head appears very expressive with its large nostrils, flexible ears and lively eyes . Desired are a not too strong, pyramid-shaped neck of good length, which blends harmoniously into the body, as well as a clearly defined, dry withers and a muscular, wide and long croup.

Overall, the physique should be rectangular and convince with a longitudinally oval ribbing, a broad, well-muscled chest and a long, well-sloped shoulder. The correct, dry foundation is characterized by clear, large joints, hooves that are not too flat and hard, as well as strong pasterns and a very muscular hindquarters . The breed-typical coat coloring is also striking in the exterior Haflingers appear as foxes with different color gradations, preferably as golden foxes, and have light-colored, smooth long hair. Prickly hair and markings on the legs are undesirable.

impressions of the breed

Haflingers are extremely sociable and robust ponies, which are ideal as family and leisure horses due to their high willingness to perform and pronounced willingness to learn. Light exercises in dressage or show jumping , as a carriage, riding or therapy horse - Haflingers are versatile and always demonstrate reliability, sure -footedness and loyalty . They are people-oriented, friendly and uncomplicated in their attitude, along with a remarkable frugality and easy eating.

Haflinger – fat, stubborn ponies?

Unfortunately, this reputation precedes the compact mountain horse. And not always entirely unjustified. The Haflinger is usually quite intelligent and knows how to assert itself . If he succeeds in doing this with his owner or supervisor, for example, this means that the Haflinger increasingly decides for himself what is best for him. He resists to impose his own will. And he has already earned the title "stubborn". Yes, it's true, the lovable fellows need a consistent upbringing. And you have to be prepared for some practical jokes with them . Untying the knot on the tie rope or opening stable doors or paddock gates are just a few examples of the ingenuitythe resourceful fellows. But if you are prepared and proud of owning a clever pony instead of a slob, you will have a lot of fun with the Haflinger - assuming solid training.

Areas of application for Haflingers – a real all-rounder

Most Haflingers are now used in recreational sports . In earlier times, they were used as pack animals and riding animals in their homeland of Austria, primarily on farms, where they were indispensable work animals both in the valleys and on the farms high up in the mountains. During the First World War they were used as pack animals by the mountain divisions. Even today, the Haflinger is characterized by the fact that it is sure-footed in difficult terrain and can carry heavy loads . Although he belongs to the pony breeds , he has advanced from a children's riding horse to a family horse - he carries the family grandfather on Sunday rides as well as the granddaughter on a pony walk.

He can be found at the tournament arenas, where there are Haflingers with amazing jumping ability , others inspire in dressage . Many Haflingers can be found riding western horses. He can also be admired in horse shows, as his intelligence makes it easy for him to rehearse and present performances. Quadrilles with Haflingers show enchanting pictures. It can be used in front of the carriage in single and multiple carriages, also here in the leisure sector as well as in tournament sports. However, most Haflingers can be found in the leisure riding category. As a beloved pony behind the house, as a faithful companion on adventurous trail rides, as a buddy and companion on horseback rides and on autumnal hunts.

The Haflinger in the riding school

Haflingers are characterized by their willingness to learn and their willingness to work, and they are the right size for children and adults. The only medium-sized horses are used on pony farms and children's riding schools as a beginner 's horse because they have strong nerves, are reliable and well-balanced. These are invaluable traits for a horse that, first of all, should instill confidence in the beginner.

However, it is advisable to have the beginner's horse regularly ridden by experienced riders "correctively" , as the clever fellows otherwise get used to unpleasant tricks all too easily and, for example, like to shorten corners or react rather hesitantly to rider aids. In principle, correction training should be carried out regularly on every beginner's horse, which unfortunately happens far too seldom in practice. Especially with the Haflinger, which needs consistent instruction , this means that they are notorious for being "stubborn" and "poorly ridden". Anyone who has ever experienced a well-ridden Haflinger standing neatly on the aids cannot share this prejudice.

The training of a Haflinger

Like all pony breeds, the Haflinger is a late breeder , but many pony breeds live much older than large horses . You should give the young horse the time to develop, it will thank you with enthusiasm and a long life expectancy . But that doesn't mean that you should only start training the adult Haflinger. But on the contrary. The earlier you start teaching the young horses the principles of social interaction in a playful way, the better.

Even the foal can be used to a variably adjustable foal halter, it is slowly but surely made to use the halter , it learns to give all four feet and to keep still at the blacksmith's. You can do ground work with the foal and young horse, exercises that interest the horse and do gymnastics. Later comes the work on the lunge line, then the careful introduction to work under the saddle or in the harness. But one thing is important in everything: Consistence

Known horses of the breed

The first cloned horse in the world is a Haflinger, namely the mare Prometea, born in Cremona (Italy) in 2003. She is suitable for breeding and gave birth to the colt Pegaso five years later. Horse cloning is intended to help preserve valuable genetic material. A gelding that is successful in sport can no longer pass on its genetic material. Cloning opens up completely new possibilities here.

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