Recently, I have been riding a lot with one of my friends and one of the horses she has is a Haflinger. Her Haflinger is one of the sweetest and gentlest horses I have ever met. I began to wonder, are all Halflinger ponies this sweet and easy to get along with? After I began to read up on the breed, not only did I learn so much about their temperaments, but I also learned a lot on their history, conformation, and lots more. Now knowing extensive information on this breed, I thought that sharing this new knowledge through this article might help others learn about this amazing breed as I did.
What Is A Haflinger Anyway?
The Haflinger is a pony breed that originated in the country of Austria. This breed was mainly intended for riding and light draft work and today is still popularly used for these same things. This pony breed is an ancient breed with coldblooded, pony, and Arabian bloodlines. Haflingers are bigger ponies compared to other pony breeds and are built a lot heavier as well. These ponies are only seen as flaxen chestnuts and have very thick manes and tails. Because of its great happy temperament, the Haflinger makes a great riding pony for children and adults alike.
How Big Is The Haflinger Breed?
When the Haflinger breed is compared to other pony breeds, it is evident that the Haflinger is not only taller but bigger overall. On average, this pony breed stands between 12.2 and 14.2 hands high making them bigger on the pony spectrum in height.
Thanks to the cold-blood genetics in their bloodline, the average weight of the Haflinger pony is between 800 and 1,300 pounds. Yes I know this is a huge range, but most of the time this pony breed weighs at or above 1,000 pounds. This is because they have draft horse traits in their genes. This is the average weight for an average sized horse just to give you an idea of how heavy this is for a pony.
What Colors Can Haflingers Be?
Just like the Belgian and Suffolk Punch horses, the Haflinger can only be chestnut. The thing about Haflingers though is that they can be only flaxen chestnut. This means that their mane and tail must be beige or white and their coat is chestnut. The shades of chestnut acceptable for Haflingers are:
- Liver Chestnut
- Light Chestnut
- And virtually any chestnut color
Even though the Haflinger looks like it could be a Palomino, this is NOT the case. Palominos have a creme gene giving them their color while the Haflinger is just made this way without the influence of a creme gene.
It is also super common to see these ponies with big white blazes on their faces.
These ponies often have a light colored belly and legs as compared to the rest of their body.
The History Of The Haflinger Breed
This pony breed is considered to be an ancient breed that descended from Arabians and several coldblooded lines. This breed originated near the village of Hafling in Austria around the Etschlander Mountains of Southern Austrian Tyrol.
The history of early Haflingers isn’t really known up until 1868 as it wasn’t until then that the history was recorded. It was in this year, 1868, that the influential Arabian stallion El Bedavi XXII was introduced into the Haflinger line.
El Bedavi XXII’s son, Follie, foaled in 1874. It was Follie who was considered the founding sire of the Haflinger breed. Today, four of the five Haflinger bloodlines can be traced back to El Bedavi XXII’s sons.
This pure bloodline is why the breed has such specific looks.
How To Identify The Haflinger
This breed has an excellent reputation regarding its temperament. These horses are sweet, kind, willing, and gentle making them great beginner horses for children and adults alike. Their temperament is what helps to make them a top choice for dressage as they just accept the bit and do what is asked of them. I haven’t seen a more mellow breed than the Haflinger.
In my opinion, the Haflinger has the most adorable little ears. This breed’s ears are really small compared to other horse and pony breeds. They are neatly shaped and pointed and are usually up and alert. Sometimes their ears are turned in slightly as well making them seem even smaller than they really are.
Some people swear that you can tell a horse’s temperament by looking at their eyes. If this is the case, the Haflinger has very sweet and kind eyes reflecting their temperament.
The back of a Haflinger is short and strong. Their backs are also very wide considering they are just ponies. They have the ability to carry a heavier load than other breeds and their short strong back helps in this.
The hindquarters of a Haflinger are rounded and powerful. They usually have great muscle definition.
Like many pony breeds and heavier horse breeds, the Haflinger is known to put more weight on than other lighter breeds. It is not uncommon to see one of these ponies overweight if they are not getting the proper amount of exercise.
This breed can be identified by their color as they can only come in one color. A pony that is not chestnut with a flaxen mane and tail can immediately be ruled out as not a Haflinger.
Mane & Tail
Haflingers are known to have a heavy, thick mane and tail. Their manes and tails should be beige or white in color and never be the same color as their bodies.
The neck of a Haflinger is generally thick and muscular. Sometimes they can be shorter then desired, but overall it looks proportionate to their thick heavy body.
The short strong legs of a Haflinger also contributes to their great strength. These ponies have great hard bones and don’t often suffer from soundness issues.
What The Haflinger Excels In
Thanks to their great temperament and conformation, the Haflinger is a great option for a dressage riding horse. They do really well in this discipline because they accept the bit, are obedient to their rider, and look great demonstrating the different commands asked of them.
Because they are similar to light draft horses, these ponies are used in driving small carriages and buggies. Sometimes they are used in teams to pull heavier carts and carriages or even plows.
Haflingers are great riding ponies for adults and children alike. They are a pretty smooth ride and can be ridden on both English and western styles (though English is more popular with this breed).
My friend’s Haflinger mare is ridden in a western styled saddle and bridle and is mainly used for general riding and trail riding.
How Long Do Haflingers Live?
Haflingers are a pretty long lived pony breed who lives around 35 to 40 years on average. This is thanks to their hardiness from where they originated. They are really sound horses too which also contributes to their lifespan.
Fun Facts On Haflingers
- They originated in a mountain region making them used to thin mountain air. This makes them hardy with great stamina as they don’t require the same oxygen level as a Thoroughbred might need.
- They were used in the Medieval times
- Some people still consider them to be horses even though they are just pony-sized
- Though they originated primarily in Austria, some parts of Italy are credited with the early development of the breed
FAQs On This Breed
Are Haflingers expensive?
Some Haflingers can be really expensive to buy if they are trained, young, have great conformation, and carry great genetics. Other times, they can be really cheap. Average costs for Haflingers are relatively low compared to the costs other breeds fetch on average.
What is the average cost of a Haflinger?
Your average Haflinger costs between $2,500 and $5,000 (USD). This price will increase depending on the level of training, conformation, and more.
Are Haflingers fast runners?
Let me just say that the Haflinger is no match for breeds like the Thoroughbred or the Quarter Horse. Because the Haflinger is so heavily built, they don’t run as fast as lighter sport horses can run. This is probably why you haven’t seen any official Haflinger races being held.
Are Haflingers a coldblooded breed?
No, actually contrary to popular belief, the Haflinger is considered a warmblood despite its heavy stocky appearance. This is because of its Arabian and potential Thoroughbred influence.
My Experience & Opinion On This Breed
I have ridden a Haflinger a few times and I absolutely love them. They are really responsive and can be a little lazy, but they would make the perfect beginner horse and children’s riding pony.
I absolutely adore this breed. If you are looking for a pony for your child to ride or a horse to start out your riding career with, I definitely would recommend this breed They can teach you so much and they have a lot of love to give.
I want my future children to ride horses or ponies like Haflingers. They not only are sweet, gentle, and patient, but they also are really easy keepers and don’t require much to thrive.
I would definitely recommend this breed to anyone and everyone looking for a good, sweet, and gentle companion.