The Haflinger Breed

The Haflinger horse began in the Austrian Alps in the year 1879 with the birth of “249 Folie,” who was the result of a cross between a refined mountain mare and a half-Arabian stallion. This breed was named for the town, Hafling, where this foal was born, and is in the region that now belongs to Italy. The Haflinger horse is small, ranging from 13.3 to 15 hands, but strong. During their history, the Haflinger horse has been indispensable to farmers who needed horses that could do it all – from driving farm wagons, to riding, to packing. The ideal Haflinger is golden chestnut with a snowy and abundant white mane and tail, fairly light in build, gentle and friendly, sure footed, and very hard working. (For the official Haflinger Breed Standards, visit…) They are easy keepers, and ideally suited to regions with mountainous terrain and four seasons. Because of their human-loving character, they easily become part of the family. 

Originally the Haflinger was a lightly built horse, but during the first and second world wars, the breed was crossed with draft-style breeds to make it more suited to packing for the army. This practice made the Haflinger bulkier and therefore less versatile, so for the last 50 years, the trend has been to breed back to the original style. The modern Haflinger is gaining popularity as a driving, dressage, trail, and therapy horse. It is also usually a good jumper. To learn more about the versatility of this horse click here.

The Haflinger vs. other breeds 

Breeds such as the Arabian, Morgan and Quarter Horse, started out more like the Haflinger. They were smaller and hardier, and were known for their friendly, willing, natures. Today, those breeds have been altered due to demand for bigger and showier horses. They are more prone to health problems, and many of them have become “hotter” in temperament. The Haflinger Horse has all the best original characteristics of these breeds, but combined in one versatile and gorgeous package! Their beautiful and distinctive coloring, hard-working nature, and classic conformation make them the breed that can work on the farm on Saturday, take you for a drive in a sulky on Sunday, and be ridden in the dressage ring on Monday. The breeding standards ensure that, while the Haflinger will never be a heavy draft horse or a tall hunter-jumper, it will be the one horse that can “do it all” with style and grace, and you can always spot one in a crowd!

Photo courtesy of Haflinger Horse Breeders Association of Tyrol Website

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