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The Haflinger is one of the most easily recognised breeds on the planet. Due to their big global following and widespread distribution, more equestrians than ever can choose to buy a Haflinger. Their gorgeous golden coats and silvery-white manes and tails make the stunning Haflingers a delightful sight on the Alpine meadows of their homeland. These small, sturdy animals originated in the Austrian Tyrol and the neighbouring Italian Alps, and so it’s not surprising that they are the natural mountaineers of the equine world. They are hard workers, having learned from birth to tackle mountain trails. People who sell a Haflinger know that they have an animal that is really a small draught horse with plenty of allure.
Origin and history of breeding Haflinger horses
As with many modern breeds, little is known about the Haflinger in early times, but from the 19th century onwards the breed records are exceptionally good. The two main origin theories are, firstly, that the ponies are the descendants of the mounts of 6th-century Gothic cavalry. Alternatively, it has been suggested that they descend from a stallion from Burgundy that was a wedding present to the 14th century Margrave Louis of Brandenburg on his marriage to a Tyrolean princess. Certainly, horses from various breeds have influenced the Haflinger. The name comes from the village of Hafling, the centre of the breed in the 19th century when it was still part of the Austro-Hungarian empire. Today, Hafling is in the Alto Adige region of Italy and here the breed is known as the Avelignese, after the Italian name for Hafling. The modern history of the Hafling begins with an Arabian stallion, El Bedavi XXII, who was the sire of the foundation stallion of the breed, now known as 249 Folie. Today, all Haflingers trace back to Folie through seven distinct bloodlines.
Haflinger horses in equestrianism
While the Haflinger breed has sometimes struggled to survive, particularly during and after both World Wars, today the future looks brighter. Austria and South Tyrol remain the prime sources for Haflingers, and pure-breds are hot-branded with the Austrian Edelweiss. There are other studs throughout the world today, and they have become a popular choice for endurance riding as well as driving. Members of the British Royal Family have owned Haflinger harness ponies. The late Duchess of Devonshire, as Patron of the Haflinger Society of Great Britain, did a great deal to establish the enthusiastic following there.
Use and characteristics of Haflinger horses
The Haflinger is one of the horse breeds that breeds very true to type. This makes all Haflingers very similar in appearance, having the rich sorrel colouring with flaxen mane and tail that is part of the appeal for those who buy a Haflinger. A closer look reveals gradations in coat colour from almost chocolate-coloured to pale gold. There is some variation in conformation too, from a lighter riding type to a sturdier, more draught-like type, with different qualities prized by the people who sell a Haflinger. The height standard has varied over the years and today Haflingers are between 13.2 hands (54 inches/137 cm) and 15 hands (60 inches/152 cm) high. Haflingers combine the best of both horse and pony characteristics, being easy to keep and compact, yet capable of taking on a big workload. Their long, broad backs have been developed for pack work and as harness ponies, they cover the ground with speed and energy. Haflingers were also used by the military as ideal equines for campaigns in remote, mountainous terrain.
Interior of Haflinger Horses
There's no denying that Haflingers are beautiful horses inside and out, with their golden coats, long manes and tails, and almond-shaped eyes. But the breed's interior characteristics are just as impressive! The heart of a Haflinger is one of courage and strength. No matter the task or obstacle, their strong will and determination allow them to see it through. They also have an incredible work ethic – which makes them excellent herd animals and show competitors. The inner beast in every Haflinger is supported by an equally impressive exterior build. It’s clear that Haflingers have something special in store for those who choose to ride them – strength, courage, intelligence and a willingness to please. Such qualities make these beautiful creatures rewarding mounts both inside the ring and out!
Exterior of Haflinger Horses
There's no denying that Haflingers are beautiful horses, with their golden coats, long manes and tails, and almond-shaped eyes. But the breed's exterior characteristics are just as impressive! The inner beast in every Haflinger is supported by an equally impressive exterior build. These compact steeds are known for having muscular hindquarters, athletic shoulders and a balanced frame making them agile over fences. Additionally they feature robust hooves which can stand up to tough terrain. It’s clear that Haflingers have something special in store for those who choose to ride them – strength, courage, intelligence and a willingness to please. Such qualities make these beautiful creatures rewarding mounts both inside the ring and out!
History of Haflinger Horses
The Haflinger breed has a long and fascinating history. Often referred to as “The Golden Horse of Tyrol," the breed has its roots in the Bavarian-Austrian Alps, where it was originally bred as a draft horse capable of carrying heavy loads through mountainous terrain. The exact origins of the breed remain somewhat mysterious, but many believe that the ancestors of today's Haflingers descended from an ancient Persian horse called the Kladruber. This warhorse is thought to have been brought to Europe by Turkish invaders sometime in the 16th century. In 1895, two sires were chosen from this wild mountain stock and registered with Austrian Stud Book – making them officially recognized as Haflingers. Since then, multiple crosses between Arabian, Thoroughbred and Freiberger horses have been employed to further refine the breed's exterior characteristics while maintaining their powerful build and skillful athleticism. The modern day Haflinger is more than just an aesthetic pleasure – healthy individuals are known for athletic ability, stamina and agility across all disciplines, a loyal companion both on the ground and under saddle. Whether you’re looking for a mount for show purposes or simply a hardworking partner on the trail, the exceptional quality of these golden horses is sure to please!