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Are you an equestrian like me? Or maybe you like to keep tabs on these majestic creatures; well, wait no more. This article will describe some of the traits and attributes that make one of the magnificent breeds, the Haflinger, unique and adorable. And what to do if you want to offer your Haflinger the best care possible?
A horse may be just another animal part of this extensive ecosystem. But in reality, horses come in countless breeds, each with its own set of attributes. While some are built for riding and jumping, others may be perfect for farming and labor-intensive jobs.
The Haflinger falls in the former category. Still, thanks to its versatility, it is used in vaulting and other forms of show events. Haflinger is also a viable option for driving and trail riding.
Following are some common facts about the Haflinger horse that make this energetic yet elegant breed so unique:
Animal Family: Equidae
Horse Breed: Warmblood
Common Name: Avelignese
Breed Origin: Arabian Stallions and Tyrolean Mare
Height: 54 to 60 inches
Weight: 800 to 1300 pounds
Diet: Low glucose grains, hay, and wheat
Color: Ranging from light gold to dark chestnut.
Coat Quality: Straight, short hair with a thick coat.
Body Build: Muscular
Body Hair: Cream to white-colored with fully developed manes.
Temperament: Quiet and Gentle.
Lifespan: on average 25 years, up to 30 in captivity.
Purpose: dressage, jumping, driving, trail riding, vaulting.
Haflinger Horse Overview
The Haflinger horse, Avelignese, is a majestic breed known for its golden chestnut color and milky-colored mane and tale. The Haflinger originated in Austria and Italy and is said to be a breed between a half Arabian Stallion and a native Tyrolean Mare. The resultant comes out to be a short horse ranging from 54 to 60 inches, with a bodyweight ranging from 800 to 1300 pounds.
The Haflinger horse features a muscular and energetic body but possesses a quiet and gentle temperament. The color pallet varies from light gold to a darker shade, but the breed is well known for its golden chestnut coat. Their lifespan averages up to 25 in the wild and can reach 30 in captivity. To establish better breeding guidelines and objectives, the World Haflinger Federation was also formed in 1976.
It is pertinent to note that if you are a Haflinger lover and reside in the States, you might want to check out American Haflinger Registry. This registry provides you with the studbook and a record of pedigrees and ownership of a Haflinger. However, the best thing about this registry is its community. Being a part of this community allows you to interact with other Haflinger enthusiasts, trainers, and keepers.
Not to mention, the Haflinger events arranged by American Haflinger Registry play a substantial role in educating the public and promoting the Haflinger breed. With their newsletter and yearbook: Haflinger Horse Bits and Haflinger Horse Yearbook, you can keep yourself updated with a lot of information ranging from Haflinger events to their sale.
The Haflinger Origin Story
When it comes to this specific breed, several theories surround its origin. Amongst them, two are pretty famous and well recognized among the equestrians. The first one states that these horses are direct descendants of the horses abandoned by the Byzantine troop in the Tyrolean valley in 555AD. These are also believed to share a link with the Oriental Bloodline explaining their muscular and short stature.
The second theory suggests that Haflinger descended from a stallion from the Kingdom of Burgundy sent to the Margrave Louis of Brandenburg. Its link to the Noriker, a well-known Austrian breed, is also suggested. Whatever its origin be, its sturdy build and resilience to harsh environments confirm that the breed saw its inception in a mountain climate.
How to Identify a Haflinger Horse
If you ask me, the best way to spot a Haflinger is by a mere look at it. The sight of graceful calmness on their faces always draws my attention towards them. While the Haflinger horse is unique, an alien eye may still be uncertain about its identity. To make this easier, here are some of the physical attributes that make the Haflinger stand out from the crowd:
Haflinger typically poses a pretty sturdy build; a muscular and broad stance and a significant muscle mass are some of the physical traits that make it so distinct. The Haflinger also inhabits a short stature ranging from 54-60 inches, relatively short for the specie, further differentiating it. For non-experienced equestrians, the most prominent feature of a Haflinger horse is its short stature resembling ponies.
Overall, Haflinger is straightforward to recognize. It possesses a small yet extravagant build quite different from others in the Equidae family.
Coat and Color
When delving deep into the Haflinger breed, you can come across various colors ranging from light gold to a darker chestnut and liver chestnut. But the Haflinger is better known for its distinctive golden chestnut coat. Another distinguishing feature is the majestic white or cream-colored mane and tail, unique to the breed. The Haflinger horse also poses white patches on its face and lower legs, complimenting its thick hair.
If you see a horse with this distinct color and a white mane and tail, you can be sure you are looking at a beautiful Haflinger. While spotting one of these pieces of beauty, you can also observe their slightly dished heads and small ears, as they are easy to notice.
As stated by the World Haflinger Federation, the Haflinger horse has strict standards which every breeder must follow while dealing with this breed. Amongst them, the distinguishing features include its small, flat, and slightly dished head.
The Haflinger should also have widely spaced eyes together with an arched neck. Furthermore, the Federation mentioned its tiny ears and sprung body as a requirement for the breeding standards.
On average, the expected lifespan of a Haflinger horse is 25-27 years in the wild. But with proper care, it can go up to 30 when domesticated. While compared to other members of the Equidae family, the Haflinger breed falls in the expected life expectancy for the species.
Although the Haflinger horse is quite famous because of its unique color and mane, there is still no official record for the oldest Haflinger horse the world has ever seen.
If you are a Haflinger lover, here are some tips you should keep in mind to ensure a long and healthy lifespan for your horse:
Routine Dental Checkups
While it is true that most mammals do not brush their teeth daily, you might want to keep a check on your horse’s teeth. As the Haflinger horse diets mainly include grains and natural vegetation, their teeth and gums are susceptible to cracking and bleeding due to the constant grinding and chewing.
Each Haflinger should have an annual dental checkup with routine teeth inspections for optimum oral health. This can prevent many infections from spreading. A good vet can easily spot any irregularities of the teeth or any infection in the soft tissue inside the mouth cavity, leading to any oral disease, even affecting the whole body.
Regular Physical Examination
Annual physical examinations are crucial to a long lifespan of a Haflinger, giving the vet a chance to evaluate any developing issue and address it before it becomes a problem. The veterinarian can inspect the Haflinger heart and Gastro-Intestinal tract during physical exams.
As the Haflinger typically involves itself in playful activities, accidents are pretty common, leading to internal injuries that might not become apparent for a long time. Therefore, regular checkups should never be overlooked, even if a Haflinger seems fine.
A good and nourishing diet is crucial to any horse, especially in the case of Haflinger. This breed typically possesses short bodies and thus has a short digestive tract. On top of that, they also have small stomachs and, therefore, necessitate small and frequent meals.
Looking at the Haflinger digestive track, choosing good quality hay and grains goes a long way in having a healthy life for the horse.
This breed is one of the more energetic and social ones and thus prefers to live in herds. Its mental and emotional state is dependent on its interaction with other horses, and they feel at ease with other horses of its kind. Many breeders and farmers may neglect this fact, but it’s crucial for the overall health and lifespan of the horse. It has been observed that long-term loneliness directly influences their behavior and activity.
Haflinger Horse Appearance and Varieties
The Haflinger will typically have a chestnut color coat available in multiple varieties, including light to dark chestnut and liver brown.
They also have a long thick mane and tail, usually in light colors like white or flaxen. Other prominent features include a small, slightly dish head, a medium-sized broad neck, a well-defined wither, sloping shoulders, and a broad but deep chest. It also has a muscular build, a thing it got from its Arabian ancestors.
Some Notable Varieties
Although the Haflinger has seven different bloodlines, they are classified into only two types based on some prevalent features.
- One is short and bulky with a higher body mass and heavier build; this one is used for pulling carts and heavy loads for long distances.
- The second kind possesses a taller and lighter form and is comparatively more muscular; this kind is more suited to riding, light driving, and under-saddle competitions.
Despite the slight difference in their body structures, many Haflinger organizations only recognize and register one kind, entitling both of them under the same name.
Besides the slight difference in build and shape, almost all the recognized Haflinger’s have the same color and pattern on the coat.
The Seven Bloodlines
Throughout Haflinger’s extensive history, there are seven different bloodlines; these bloodlines are as follows:
- A-Line: This is one of the most prevalent Haflinger bloodlines today and was started by Anselmo. The inception of this line took place after World War II, as the need for stallions could not be satisfied.
- B-Line: This line was started by Bolzano, born in 1915. However, this one isn’t as famous as the A-line; its numbers are still increasing in America and England.
- M-line: The M-line was founded by Massimo; the breed is quite prevalent in Austria but is neglected in other parts of the world.
- N-line: The N-line is the greatest competitor to the A-line by having the most significant number of studs. This line was started by Nibbio and grew out to represent the breed in many Haflinger breeding countries. It is most prevalent in Austria and Italy.
- S-line: Created by Stelvio, the S-line is one of the least prevalent Haflinger bloodlines worldwide and thus is endangered. It demands special attention from the equestrian community.
- ST-line: The ST line was started by a stud named “Student” and now has many stallions, most prominent in the US and Germany outside of Austria.
- W-line: Started by Willi, the line was threatened with crossbreeding and thus isn’t that popular of a bloodline in Austria. Despite this, they still have traces in Netherlands and Canada.
Haflinger Training and Interaction with Humans
A Haflinger is very quiet and gentle; they are incredibly versatile and can be an excellent addition to any stable. And this calm demeanor makes them child-friendly and also perfect for horse riding.
Despite this, they can give a tough time to a trainer. Still, Haflingers don’t mind following commands until it’s in their interest. If they don’t want to do something, you can’t change their mind. One way to win their interest is by positive reinforcement. Try giving them treats and snacks for accomplishing a task; this helps make a positive image in their minds, convincing them to cooperate.
While it’s true that they are gentle and loving, some are also known for their stubbornness and can be pretty tricky to work with, especially in the case of new riders. They are very good at assessing the rider’s skill and are famous for taking advantage of a new and inexperienced rider. But we should not overshadow the fact that a trained Haflinger is among the best steeds one can find.
The Haflinger breed is very loving and caring towards humans, but this can sometimes lead to over-excitement. They can start to pull on your shirt and hair while looking for treats. At first glance, this may seem harmless, but you have to keep in mind their weight as they can easily knock out many adults with their strength.
They also possess a keen mind and can quickly learn complex tricks and perform amazing tasks with their laid-back temperament. Having said this, Haflingers are one of the most loving and understanding breeds out there. I am confident that if you provide it with a proper habitat and a loving interaction, a Haflinger can prove itself to be one of the most rewarding investments of your time and effort.
How You Can Care for Your Haflinger
Compared to other members of the Equidae family, the Haflinger needs a bit more care. It requires extreme maintenance and care, especially if you decide to use it as a show horse. As the Haflinger is highly social and friendly, it prefers to gaze outside and met other horses.
An Adequate Pen and a Stable
If you decide to buy a Haflinger or already have this adorable creature, keep in mind that it requires a proper enclosure and pen. Usually, a 60 feet pen is enough for most horses, but you can also get away with 50 feet pen in the case of a Haflinger.
It would also help to perform frequent checks on the pen and provide weekly cleanups, at the very least. A moderate-sized shelter or stable is also preferred as this helps keep the horse out of bad weather. For Haflingers, a small size shelter is enough.
But don’t forget to keep the shelter well stocked with hay; you would never want to send your friend to bed empty stomach. Would you?
Looking Out for Diseases
Although Haflingers tend to be healthy, some genetic health problems should never be turned a blind eye while caring for them. One of them is Laminitis; this condition is related to the horse’s hoofs. Laminitis can bind the hoof wall to the pedal bone inside the hoof and, thus, can lead to random rotations and irregular growth of hoofs.
This condition is usually caused by the horse eating rich grass or grains. To avoid this, try to feed your horse the grains that are low in starch and glucose.
Another genetic problem a Haflinger can face is Equine Metabolic Syndrome. This condition results in the horse being obese and developing insulin resistance. While Haflingers love eating grass, studies show that they should not be allowed to indulge themselves in rich sugar content. If you plan to leave this horse on pastures, always remember to use a grazing muzzle.
A Haflinger also requires grooming, and, unfortunately, it is one of the most overlooked factors in its caring. Grooming includes regular maintenance of its long and thick mane, especially during rainy and muddy weather. Using a comb to remove hair locks makes its mane looks smoother and fluffier and prevents hair loss. Not to mention, proper grooming can also help bring out the golden sheen of its coat.
A selective and controlled diet is also crucial for the Haflinger and plays a vital role in a healthy lifestyle. In most cases, these horses don’t need grain or other forms of sugar or carbs as these are mainly used as show horses. But if you plan to use a Haflinger for horse riding or transportation or other strenuous work, it will require a low-carb grain added to its diet.
Due to its short stature, this specific breed also has a short digestive tract and thus requires a small and frequent portion of hay or other forms of feed. So, feeding hay through a slow feeder can help keep the waste at a minimum while also making the portions lasting longer.
Depending on the workload and diet, the amount of water a Haflinger consumes can vary. It is a fact that Haflinger typically drinks less than an average horse. However, a Haflinger can drink anywhere from 5 to 10 liters per day, taking temperature and diet in mind.
Haflinger Breeding: from Past to Present
A Haflinger mostly resembles its progenitor mare, Tyrolean, from its chestnut color and flaxen mane and tail. Furthermore, its height and size also offer an unmistakable resemblance to the Tyrolean breed. The Haflinger is also famous for its muscular build, which it gets from its fathers’ kind. Still, it would not be wrong to call this breed a muscular Tyrolean.
If you wish to get into the breeding business, I suggest investing in a pedigree Haflinger stallion. With a good Haflinger stallion, you can earn easy money through breeding. Some enthusiasts matter the horse’s physique a lot, so you might want to always keep your stud in a fascinating and attractive shape. Don’t forget; looks do matter!
So How Much Does a Haflinger Cost?
Here are some of the quotes you can expect if you plan to buy one of these horses. While it’s true that these horses start from 5,000 USD, their prices can significantly vary depending on your location. Usually, if you live in a busy city with fewer farms and stables nearby, the cost can go extremely high.
Their cost also depends on the specific coat, as golden chestnut horses almost always go for extravagant prices. The price can also depend on the amount of training you want your horse to have beforehand. Keeping this in mind, an excellent golden coat Haflinger with proper training can cost $20,000; you heard it right!
How to Buy/Adopt a Haflinger Horse:
Haflinger is a popular breed because of its versatility and beauty. The best way to buy one is to look at nearby stable/ farms and check if they work with this breed. You can also ask animal shelters if someone has abandoned their Haflinger. When buying, do not forget to go for the pre-purchase exams to ensure the horse’s good health.
In this technological era, you can also search for a beautiful Haflinger while sitting at home by looking at online marketplaces and websites. Some best websites, in my view, that deal in this breed include Haflinger and EquineNow.
Some Famous Haflingers throughout the History:
Being one of the noblest and most majestic breeds in the Equidae family, some Haflingers still live in the memories of their lovers. Below are some of the famous members of this breed:
This stallion was born in 1874 and is perhaps the most famous Haflinger in history. The 249 folio was a founding primogenitor, and almost all modern Haflingers can be traced back to him. Folie was the son of 133 El Bedavi XXII Shagya Arab and Native Tyrolean Mare.
This specific horse is famous for its unusual birth; Prometea was named the first cloned horse. It was cloned in 2003 by an Italian scientist and became the first filly to be born through cloning. Prometea might not be aware of this, but cloning her necessitated experiments with 841 reconstructed embryos.
Answer: Typically, the Haflinger horse is a very gentle and loving breed and may seem suitable for new riders and breeders. But keep in mind that some Haflingers have a terrible habit of testing and taking advantage of new riders. Sometimes, they also display a pushy and stubborn attitude, making it hard for beginners. Still, they can become suitable for beginners with proper training and handling.
Answer: Keeping in mind its short and compact stature, about 1.5 meters in height, they may look pony from afar. However, it is a robust and sturdy horse and can easily carry significant weight and full-size adults. But there is no harm for a child in calling it a pony. Give them some time, and they will eventually learn a Haflinger is more than that.
Answer: Haflingers have a calm and friendly temperament; on top of this, there are highly social and love to play with other horses and animals. Although, due to their sturdy body weight, they can easily hurt small animals. So, it’s recommended to supervise them when around smaller animals or even kids.