The Haflinger is a popular leisure horse and inspires many riders with its versatility. The charismatic blondes from South Tyrol once descended from mountain horses and were ennobled by crossbreeding with full animals like the Arab.
The result is more than convincing! The Haflinger is elegant and strong in an appealing fox color with a snow-white mane.
This not only makes the pony an appealing companion for children and young people, numerous adults are also enthusiastic about the range of performance, surefootedness, and friendliness.
Although the Haflinger as a pony is not a classic sport horse for riders with tournament ambitions, with a little talent he can learn difficult lessons without any problems.
His passion is undoubtedly in driving, after all, he served the farmers as a draft horse a long time ago, but can also inspire as a normal riding horse. Those who want a little more temperament, but are impressed by the look and character of the Haflinger, have come to the right place with the Edelbluthaflinger.
In this breeding line, the percentage of whole blood is higher than in the classic breeding line. This makes the Edelbluthaflinger a little more delicate and lively without losing the typical properties such as strong nerves and good-naturedness.
Last but not least, it is the resilience and robustness that make Haflinger attractive. It can live outdoors all year round without any problems and does not need a lot of food.
Its ease of feeding is both an advantage and a disadvantage. The Haflinger tends to get fat quickly when there is plenty of feed, which can make him sick. It is therefore advisable to keep moderation! His hard hooves usually do not need horseshoes unless they are exposed to extreme loads.
With all its properties, the Haflinger leaves hardly anything to be desired!
Size: 138-150 cm
Weight: 450 – 600 kg
Lifespan: 25-30 years
Color: Fox colors, light fox
Dressage, leisure, jumping, western
Origin and breed history
The Haflinger comes from the Tyrolean Alps and has been used there as a mountain horse since the Middle Ages. The small community of Hafling in South Tyrol near Merano and Bozen gave the Haflinger its name.
The small, powerful ponies were characterized above all by their high level of surefootedness in the difficult terrain of the high alpine pastures.
The Haflinger was once a draft horse and packhorse and its appearance at that time was more reminiscent of a cold-blooded horse than of the elegant Haflinger of today. Noriker stallions were crossed again and again.
Start of Haflinger breeding
In 1874 an Arabian stallion was paired with a local mare. The son of this stallion was Foil 249. To this day, Folie is considered to be the progenitor of all Haflinger horses.
In fact, the seven different Haflinger bloodline founders all go back to this one stallion. The Haflinger was finally officially recognized as a breed in 1898.
The Haflinger suffered a major setback in the First World War. Since South Tyrol was no longer part of Austria, Italians took over the breeding of the Haflinger.
Due to the timing, all stallions needed for breeding remained in Austria, while the broodmares in Italy. Haflinger breeding had to be rebuilt in Austria and only slowly recovered.
Haflingers are still bred in Austria, Germany, and Italy to this day. Again and again, especially in Germany, Arabs were crossed in order to achieve a further refinement of the Haflinger.
The Haflinger Breeding Association reacted with concern to this development and therefore decided in 2008 to create two studbooks. Today there is a studbook for Haflingers and one for noble Haflinger horses.
The World Haflinger Association allows a Haflinger to have a proportion of foreign blood of up to 1.56% but promotes pure breeding. The Haflinger Horse Breeding Association in Tyrol, on the other hand, closed its studbook in 1920 and has not allowed any other breeds to be crossed since then.
In such a case, a Haflinger must be recognized as such by another breeding association.
Worth knowing: Noble Haflingers may have a maximum foreign blood content of up to 25%.
This foreign blood portion must, however, come from an Arab, recognizable by the ox at the end of the name.
The appearance of the Haflinger
With a height between 138 and 150 cm, the Haflinger is one of the largest pony breeds and can therefore be described as a small horse. Due to its strong stature, the Haflinger can be ridden by adults without any problems.
Haflinger’s physique is muscular and elegant at the same time. While the earlier type was stockier, more sporty horses are used today.
The Haflinger Association has formulated a clear breeding goal; an elegant horse with an expressive head and large eyes are desired.
The back of the Haflinger is usually long and strong, the neck is well muscled, the shoulder slope. The noble blood Haflinger does not look much different from the classic Haflinger.
Depending on the amount of whole blood, it looks a bit more delicate, but this does not necessarily have to be the case.
The color of the Haflinger is known as the light fox. The fox color of the Haflinger can come in different color variations, but cabbage foxes are rare, the white or flax-colored curtains are always characteristic.
The fox color is lightened by the so-called flax gene. The fur on the stomach and the inside of the legs can be significantly lighter than the rest of the body.
Many Haflingers also have a flour mouth, and badges on the head such as a blaze are allowed.
Temperament and essence
The Haflinger is one of the horse breeds with a strong character and is naturally extremely willing to perform. If he is busy and is mentally and physically challenged, he is considered friendly, good-natured, and nervous.
Despite his high level of motivation, Haflinger is easy to handle and always calm in everyday life. When dealing with the Haflinger, the horses’ sensitivity must be taken into account.
The Haflinger needs a consistent and fair upbringing. His cleverness and stubborn manner should not be underestimated. If the person does not tell the Haflinger how to behave, the Haflinger decides himself.
Due to these characteristics, the Haflinger is not a typical beginner horse, as it can react stubbornly to unclear commands and a lack of assertiveness.
However, it can be used in riding schools or as a therapy horse, depending on character and temperament.
Husbandry and nutrition
The Haflinger is a resilient and robust horse that can easily be kept in an open stable all year round.
The possibility of a dry and clean shelter should be guaranteed in any case. Like many other pony breeds, the Haflinger likes to be among its peers, but it can also be kept in mixed breeds without any problems.
Similar to the Icelandic horse, the Haflinger is a robust horse and one of the easy-to-feed horse breeds. He tends to be overweight with the appropriate predisposition and should therefore be fed with care.
As a guideline, around 8 kilograms of hay are recommended without great physical strain. So-called ad libitum feeding of hay, in which the horse is given free access to hay, usually backfires and is quickly punished with being overweight.
Additional feeding of concentrated feed is usually not necessary and should be adapted to the workload.
Education and care
The Haflinger needs a clear line in education and needs to be challenged. His good-natured and friendliness make him in many cases an ideal horse for ambitious beginners.
However, due to their intelligence and willingness to perform, many Haflingers are suitable for advanced riders. Haflinger is extremely hardworking and can easily learn difficult lessons with the appropriate support and sufficient talent.
Many judges do not like to see Haflingers in the dressage arena, but numerous examples show how versatile the Haflinger is. The Haflinger is not a rare sight at western tournaments, driving, and endurance rides.
Thanks to their high perception, they quickly learn tricks and circus lessons. Clicker training, for example, which is primarily known from dog training, is very suitable for this purpose.
The Haflinger is otherwise unproblematic when it comes to caring for it. His stable and hard hooves rarely need horseshoes. In winter it develops sufficient fur and does not necessarily have to be covered.
Mane and tail should appear natural. A warping of the mane is accordingly not necessary. The tail should be trimmed regularly to protect the horse.
If the horse steps on the tail (which is an extension of the spine), it not only pulls thick strands from the tail but also receives an unpleasant pull that affects the entire body.
During the summer months, you should regularly check your horse for ticks. Borreliosis is a growing problem in horses too.
Health and Typical Diseases
The Haflinger is a robust and resilient horse. Diseases such as laminitis can be traced back to its ease of feeding.
In addition to laminitis, Cushing and EMS (Equine Metabolic Syndrome) can also be the result of poor nutrition. Summer eczema (allergic reaction to mosquitoes) affects some horses. There is also a disposition to equine sarcoids (benign skin tumors).
The occurrence of PSSM (polysaccharide storage myopathy) has also recently been observed. This is a muscle disease that can occur more frequently in muscular horses such as the Haflinger or Quarter Horse.
Typical symptoms are muscle tremors and severe muscle pain after work.
The life expectancy of the Haflinger
A Haflinger has a life expectancy of up to 30 years and is therefore very durable for a horse. Many Haflinger horses are ridden and driven well beyond the age of 20 without any problems.
The lifespan of course depends on whether Haflinger suffers from previous illnesses and how well he is cared for and kept.
As you have already learned, there are a few things you can do to keep your Haflinger healthy and fit for as long as possible.
Have you decided to buy a Haflinger? With this, you make a good choice, no matter what plans you have with your Haflinger. As a real all-around talent, you will have a wonderful time with the Haflinger.
Because it is particularly widespread in Europe, the Haflinger is quite affordable to buy. You can often get a well-ridden leisure horse for $3500.
The better trained a horse is, the more expensive it is of course. In addition to the acquisition costs, you should calculate a monthly amount of at least $400 that your horse will cost you. Vet, farrier, boarding house, equipment, and riding lessons are permanent costs.
If you have taken into account all the needs and the corresponding costs for a horse, nothing speaks against giving a Haflinger a home.
May it be a foal?
If you already have a lot of experience in training young horses, you can make a real bargain with a Haflinger foal.
Haflinger is widespread in his home country and is still used for meat production. The mares and foals spend the summer on the alpine meadows and are driven back into the valley in autumn.
Foals that are not sold are slaughtered. Many organizations buy these foals for slaughter and pass them on to interested parties. Such foals usually do not receive any papers, so participation in some tournaments would not be possible.
If you value papers, you can also find foals at reputable breeders, which cost around 800 EUR. If you want to buy a foal, however, you have to expect some costs before you can ride your horse.
Although the Haflinger can be a very demanding horse, many riders enjoy it because of its versatility.
With a little experience in dealing with horses, the Haflinger will give you a horse that will always have fun working with you. The Haflinger doesn’t care whether you undertake extensive cross-country rides or train dressage lessons.
The Haflinger will always be motivated and happy in all tasks, as long as you treat him honestly and fairly and praise him for good work.
If you decide on the Haflinger, then you can call an absolute all-rounder with a great character your own!
FAQ on Haflingers
What is a Haflinger?
A Haflinger is a breed of horse with light brown fur and a blond mane. It is mainly used as a riding horse and is strongly built.
How big are Haflingers?
Haflingers are between 138 and 150 cm tall.
How old do Haflingers get?
Haflingers reach an age of 25 to 30 years.
How much does a Haflinger horse cost?
For a Haflinger, you have to calculate between $5000 and $7000.
What does a Haflinger weigh?
Haflichers weigh between 450 and 600 kg.