Haflingers: The Ultimate Horse

Reader Contribution by Harper Slusher
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Draft horses are a practical option for any self-sufficient farmer–handy to use for farm work and enjoyable to

ride. Unfortunately, their bulky size, which makes them capable of draft work, can often pose a problem. Not only does their bulk demand enormous quantities of food, it can also make them harder to handle, especially if their temperament is not consistent.

Fortunately, there is one breed that is nearly as strong, but almost half the size. Smaller than most draft horses, Haflingers rarely reach any taller than 15 hands, normally maturing to heights between 13 to 14 hands. Their small size makes them easier to handle and cheaper to feed. Despite their size, these horses are stocky and incredibly strong, perfect for pulling farm equipment or riding. In appearance, Haflingers are gorgeous horses as well. Their flaxen manes grow long and thick and their coats are striking shades varying from soft golden to creamy chestnut. 

Haflingers first originated in the mountains of Tyrol, Austria. There, they roamed the mountains growing into strong, hardy creatures despite the little food available in the cold winter months. Over time, farmers brought in these horses and used them to plow their fields. 

When they were first used in Tyrol, farmers specifically only bred Haflingers that were calm and trainable enough be handled by everyone, even young children. Now, these carefully bred horses are calm, smart and extremely trainable, perfect for everyone.

Selective breeding has created two distinctive groups of Haflingers- a modern type and a stocky type. The modern type of Haflingers tends to be much taller and refined, mostly used for riding purposes or light farm work. Many of these modern Haflingers were bred in the past with Arabians to give them a less stocky, sleek appearance. The stocky type of Haflingers is often much shorter with thick, stocky bodies. These horses tend to be especially hardy, easy keepers, perfect for farm work or riding.

Though, all Haflingers are extremely versatile when it comes to riding. They can excel in nearly any discipline- dressage, jumping, vaulting, endurance and western.

Haflingers can also be used for- plowing, driving, logging, mowing and nearly any other type of draft work.

During World War II, these horses were often used as packhorses, as they were favored for being short and draft-like as well as hardy in cold conditions. Even today, Haflingers are still used by German and Austrian armies when on rough, uneven terrain.

Whether you’re looking for a suitable dressage mount, or want a few draft horses to help you out on the farm, Haflingers are perfect for anyone. Their likeable, gentle personality makes them a joy to work with.