What is a Haflinger horse, well it is one of an estimated 350 horse breeds in the world and one of the most special, rare equines you will come across? You might be familiar with the name Haflinger, but know little else about this breed. Here we will dive into the origins and characteristics of this wonderful little horse.
Haflinger Horses History
The Haflinger originates in the Austrian mountains, in the Tyrol region. Like many horse breeds, the name comes from the village where the horse developed. In this case, the Haflinger comes from Hafling.
Hafling is now part of Italy, but prior to World War I, it was in Austria. The foundation of the breed starts in 1874. This is when the first official Haflinger stallion, 249 Folie, is born. 249 Folie is the result of a cross between a half Arabian stallion and a Tyrolean mare.
The Tyrolean is a native Austrian horse. The mother of 249 Folie, was specially chosen for her, particularly refined look. Every Haflinger born since 1874 traces its pedigree back to 249 Folie. The official Haflinger stud opened in 1921.
From there, the world discovered the breed and several Haflinger breed societies established themselves around the world. Today, the breed and its societies follow standards set by the World Haflinger Federation. Unlike the early period of many breeds, the Haflinger has no cold-blood horse genetics.
The native Tyrolean, a major influence on the breed, is a small warmblood horse. The part of the Alps where this breed originates never saw cold blood breeds.
The first Haflinger arrived in the United States in 1958. It took another 19 years for the first Haflinger registration in Canada. While some Haflinger breeding takes place around the world, the majority still come from Austria.
Haflinger Horse Size
The Haflinger is a small, sturdy horse. The region where the breed developed consisted of small farms set amongst steep hillsides. Larger horses would not have been able to traverse the paths between these farms, nor could the environment provide the food needed.
In the early 1900s, before the start of World War I, the average height of the Haflinger is just under 15 hands, or 150cm. Today, the Haflinger stands between 13.2 and 15 hands tall. It is easy to mistake the Haflinger for a pony due to its size, but it is a horse.
Use Of The Haflinger
The first Haflingers worked on farms. Not doing heavy work but as a carrier of supplies between farms and bringing harvests from the steeply set fields. It also did work in the forest.
With the coming of machines, the Haflinger was not necessary on farms. Its fairly light frame and wonderful temperament made it easy to switch the Haflinger to other activities. Today, it is a great mount for riders of all ages and abilities.
You will see the Haflinger in many surprising equestrian activities. They take part in dressage, jumping, combined driving, therapeutic riding, and trekking.
One of the most unique characteristics of the Haflinger is its color. All Haflingers are chestnuts. They come in many chestnut shades from deep golden to liver chestnut to light almost palomino color.
Haflingers have white or blonde manes, making them one of the most striking-looking horse breeds. The body of the Haflinger is rectangular with a pretty, refined head. They have strong backs and good hocks that allow them to safely navigate rough terrain.
The gait of the Haflinger is energetic and smooth, making it a comfortable and enjoyable horse to ride. Due to the sometimes harsh environment of their origin, the Haflinger evolved as an easy keeper.
Haflingers are not only versatile but also possess good longevity. Many live well into their 30s and can comfortably continue work into their 20s.
The temperament of the Haflinger is one of the best amongst horse breeds. It is a willing, gentle horse, that stays calm in many situations. This is what makes the breed such a good therapeutic riding horse.
Interesting Haflinger Facts
- The Haflinger is an intelligent breed that enjoys doing work. Behavioral issues can arise if it is confined for too long in a stable without going out to exercise.
- Like most horses, the Haflinger is social and is happiest with other horse companions.
- Breeding standards ensure those with faults are not part of breeding programs. This allows the breed to remain one of the healthiest and soundest types of horses.
- The first horse ever cloned was a Haflinger filly named Prometea.
- The breed almost disappeared during the world wars as many were confiscated to work as pack animals for mountain battles.
- All Haflinger breeding stallions are owned by the Austrian government or approved by them.
- The current Haflinger population is around 250,000.
Haflinger Horse Breed Conclusion
The Haflinger is a small warmblood horse with athletic ability and a fantastic temperament. It needs good training and plenty of exercises. When these basic needs are met, the Haflinger is the perfect family horse.