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Choosing a Haflinger

By: Dr. Dawn Ruben

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The Haflinger is a pony that hails from Austria. Named after the village of Hafling, this pony is a strong, powerful and loving horse. The Haflinger is noted for having a long and healthy life.

History and Origin

As with many horses, the true origins of the Haflinger are unknown but there are several interesting theories. One theory says that the early settlers of the Sarn valley in Austria crossed their small Arab-type of horses with native mountain ponies in the middle of the 6th century. Another theory states that the Haflinger began when a stallion was given to Margrave Louis of Brandenburg as a wedding gift in 1342. Regardless of the theory, most everyone agrees that in 1868, the Arabian stallion El Bedavi XXII was used to enrich the breed. His son Folie, foaled in 1874, became the foundation sire of the Haflinger breed we know today.

Since the majority of the breeding and development of this pony was done in Austria, this pony was eventually named the Haflinger, after the village of Hafling. This village lies in the mountainous areas of the southern Tirol (also spelled Tyrol) region. This area of Austria is quite harsh and these developing ponies are noted for their strength, power and hardiness.

Today, the Haflinger is found all over the world and is bred in over 20 countries. This breed is especially popular in Germany and Switzerland as a leisure pony.

Appearance

The Haflinger is a somewhat small horse. He stands 12 to 14 hands tall with short, powerful legs and a low set tail. The neck is strong and broad at the base, and the pony's profile is slightly dished. The body is strong with a fairly long back. The hindquarters are very muscular. The ears are small and the eyes large with a kind and alert expression. The Haflinger is known for his excellent feet.

This pony is always a chestnut or rich golden color with a white mane and tail. Many ponies have a blaze on the face but some may have a narrow strip or a star. There is little to no feathering of the cannons and the mane and tail are long and full.

Aptitudes

The Haflinger is known for his calm and willing disposition. Despite being small, these ponies are very strong and capable. They have been used by farmers to work the land and as pack horses. This pony is an excellent all-round riding and driving pony that can be trained for a variety of activities and even some tricks. He can work equally well in harness or under saddle. Today, the Haflinger is primarily used for leisure riding. Noted for longevity, there are claims that some Haflingers have continued to work well into their 30s.

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