There is something unique about the appearance of the Haflinger horse. Standing
between 13 and 15 hands high, it is tempting to call this horse a 'pony'.
But given the Haflingerís heritage of being a tough, strong, hardworking soul
in the Tyrolian mountains of Austria, this horse is built for power and hardiness.
In its native Austria, the Haflinger is sometimes referred to as a "prince in the front,
a peasant behind" due to the size of its muscular hindquarters.
The Haflinger descends from a race of mountain ponies that have grazed the
Alps for centuries. These ponies, tough and strong, were used as all-around
helpers of the Austrian farmer. Subsisting on sparse rations in the winter,
the Haflingerís ancestors were selectively bred for temperament,
hardiness and longevity. Mountain farmers used them for plowing and
transportation, packing up steep trails, pulling logs from the forests.
Only those horses who could be handled by all members of the family were kept
and bred--thus the docile and friendly nature of the modern Haflingers.
This willingness to work, strength, thriftiness, and surefootedness made
him a desired military pack horse during World War II, traveling the coldest
and most difficult fronts of the war.
The first Haflingers were imported to the United States in the 1960ís,
with one herd arriving in the state of Washington and Illinois. There are
now over 10,000 Haflingers in North America, with most imports having arrived
within the last ten years from Europe.
Breeders who have turned to Haflingers remark not just on their undeniable
appeal and people-oriented personalities, but also on their intelligence,
boldness, and resilience. They learn quickly and are sensible, attributes
that has earned them a place in the world of therapeutic riding, as well as
on trails, in the dressage ring, jumping and combined driving.
Cheerful and willing to work, the Haflinger is a horse for everyone, easily
able to carry a large adult, and gentle enough for the most timid beginning
child rider. Perhaps, most of all, the Haflinger is a friend and companion.
Over the centuries of living so closely with his human family, the Haflinger
developed a temperament that is not simply unflappable, but actively outgoing
and engaging. It is said that "Haflingers can do anything, with a smile!"
People who switch from other breeds to Haflingers are often amazed by their
new horsesí intelligence, quickness to learn, and utter desire to please. These
new owners are only just learning what Austrian Haflinger owners have known for
centuries. When it comes to versatility, ability, and looks, itís hard to beat
the blonde horses of the Alps.
For more information, go to: http://www.haflingerhorses.com