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Home > Horses > Haflinger Horse: Info, Pictures, Temperament & Traits

Haflinger Horse: Info, Pictures, Temperament & Traits

haflinger horse standing

The Haflinger horse has been around since the 18th century and is one of the most reliable light draft, harness, and riding horses. Known for their distinctive chestnut coloring, Haflingers are gentle enough that they’re often used to teach beginner riders and children and used in therapeutic riding programs. Read on to learn more about this incredibly popular horse.

Breed Overview

Care Level Moderate
Temperature All climate types
Temperament Calm, gentle, people-pleasers
Colors Chestnut
Lifespan 25-30 years
Weight 1,100–1,300 lbs (stallions), 770–1,200 lbs (mares)
Height 13–15 hands (stallions), 11–13 hands (mares)

Often referred to as “elegant,” the Haflinger horse is rather small as horses go. Their chestnut coloring is a hallmark of the breed, and although small, they’re well-muscled and have a smooth yet energetic gait. They’re known for being extremely sturdy while remaining gentle.

In North America, the official breed registry of the Haflinger is, not surprisingly, the American Haflinger Registry (AHR). The AHR operates under the international governing body, the World Haflinger Breeding and Sports Federation, which is located in Bozen, Italy.

Haflinger Horse Characteristics



What Are These Horses Used For?

Haflinger Horses are used in a surprising number of ways, which is one reason the breed is so popular. They do everything from light harness and pack work to vaulting, tourism, and show jumping. While the Haflinger can handle an adult rider, they are often seen with children because they make fine dressage horses. Amazingly, the Haflinger is still being used today in Austria and Germany as pack horses for their armies since they’re incredibly nimble and can easily handle the roughest terrain.

haflinger horses walking
Image By: ON Photography Germany, Shutterstock

Where Did These Horses Originate From?

The Haflinger Horse’s history can be traced back to the Middle Ages. It was then that, along the South Tyrolean mountains between Austria and northern Italy, this beautiful horse breed was first developed. During that time, the nimble, robust, and sure-footed Haflinger was an essential part of everyday life, especially high up in the Alpine mountains, where the terrain was treacherous.

Today’s Haflinger is a combination of the original breed with several European horse bloodlines and Arabian bloodlines. In 1874 the Haflinger was formally established in Europe. That was when a sire, 249 Folie, was born and became the foundation horse to which Haflingers can still be traced back. 249 Folie was a Tyrolean Haflinger mare and Arabian stallion cross.

Temperament & Intelligence of the Haflinger Horse

When the Haflinger was first bred in the late 1800s, one of the main concerns of breeders was that they get a reliable horse with a calm and easy-to-handle temperament. They succeeded, and today the Haflinger is known as a genuinely likable, tranquil, and good-natured equine breed. They are also sensitive horses and need a gentle but firm hand when training.

Haflingers are so gentle that they’re often used in equine therapy programs, helping riders with developmental and physical disabilities to grow and heal in a safe and comfortable environment. As mentioned earlier, Haflingers are a breed often used to teach beginners and children how to ride horses because they’re so gentle and laid-back.

Appearance & Varieties

two haflinger horse in the mountain
Image Credit: DooBap, Shutterstock

Two types of Haflinger are recognized. The first is a shorter, heavier type often used for draught work. The 2nd type is taller and thinner and generally seen in competitions or utilized for trail riding, among other tasks. All Haflinger Horses have a similar chestnut color, with a lighter-colored mane and tail. Whichever type you choose, a Haflinger will become a trusted and valuable part of your family.

horse shoe divider

Things to Know When Owning a Haflinger Horse

Habitat & Stable Requirements🌾

Because the Haflinger is a smaller breed, veterinarians recommend a pen that’s at least 50 feet in diameter, although going larger is certainly more favorable to give your Haflinger more room to run.

As for their stable, these gentle horses should be kept in a stable but also provided shelter outdoors for protection during inclement weather. The shelter and their stable should be approximately 12’ W x 12’ L x 6’ H. This will give your pet plenty of room to move around and stay comfortable. Proper bedding should also be provided, and their enclosure should be cleaned regularly.

Food & Diet Requirements🥕

Haflingers are considered an “easy keeper” horse breed, which means they can easily gain weight, which can lead to issues with obesity. About 20 pounds of mature, low-NSC grass hay will be needed for an adult Haflinger.

Another recommendation for Haflingers is the use of a slow feeder to slow down their hay consumption and prevent obesity. Soaking their hay is also recommended to reduce its caloric content and occasionally restrict their access to pastures. If that isn’t possible, a grazing muzzle is recommended.

Equine veterinarians recommend a high-fat, low-starch diet for Haflingers, with up to 20% of their dietary energy coming from fat. Adding omega-3 fatty acids, EPA, and DHA to your Haflinger’s diet is also recommended to maintain their metabolic health, ensure their eyes stay healthy, and reduce inflammation.


Your Haflinger must get a few hours of exercise 7 days a week. This will ensure they stay healthy and lower the risk of several health issues, including obesity. You should note that although they have a rather stocky, well-muscled build, the Haflinger is athletic and enjoys sports, including trail riding, show jumping, dressage, vaulting, and western riding. All of these activities can help your Haflinger burn off calories.

haflinger horse running
Image Credit: Zuzule, Shutterstock


Because of their gentle nature, the Haflinger is considered easy to train. However, because they’re so intelligent, many Haflingers can be willful and stubborn when training and demand a firm but gentle hand. It’s also worth noting that Haflingers are sensitive horses and don’t do well with negative reinforcement methods when training.


The Haflinger has similar grooming needs to most other breeds. Daily brushing is necessary to keep their coat and mane healthy and shiny and remove dead skin and any loose hair. A stiff brush is recommended, but be careful around sensitive areas, including their face, udders, and sheath.

Cleaning your Haflinger’s hooves with a hoof pick is recommended. It’s also a good habit to use a clean, slightly damp cloth to wipe your horse’s face, especially its nostrils, eyes, and rectum. Lastly, a wide-toothed comb explicitly made for a horse’s tail and mane can gently separate their hairs without breaking them.

Lifespan & Health Conditions🏥

Although the Haflinger is a long-lived horse, they have several genetic issues and are susceptible to several equine illnesses. For example, the Haflinger bloodline, unfortunately, carries a gene that makes them more prone to eye cancer, known as ocular squamous cell carcinoma. This also happens to be the most common equine eye cancer.

Haflingers are also prone to equine degenerative myeloencephalopathy. This neurological disease causes symmetric ataxia, which is the progressive loss of normal body movements. While treatable, the prognosis for a Haflinger afflicted with equine degenerative myeloencephalopathy is poor.

Minor Conditions
  • Polysaccharide storage myopathy (PSSM)
  • Worms
  • Laminitis
  • Metabolic disorders
Serious Conditions
  • Equine degenerative myeloencephalopathy
  • Ocular squamous cell carcinoma

Male vs Female

Aside from the sexual differences between male and female Haflingers, males tend to be about 20% heavier and taller. Besides this difference, once fully mature, there are few others between the two Haflinger sexes. Intact males can be slightly more aggressive and, as they age, more difficult to train. However, if treated kindly and raised well, it will be less of an issue.


3 Little-Known Facts About Haflinger Horses

1. The First Horse Ever Cloned Was a Haflinger

The clone’s name was Prometea, and she was only the seventh animal in human history to be successfully cloned. This was in 2003.

2. Chestnut Is the Only Color Allowed According to the Haflinger’s Breed Standard

Yes, there are some shade variations, but all are considered chestnut.

3. Haflingers Are Horses, Not Ponies

Many folks make the mistake of calling them ponies because of their smaller stature. However, the Haflinger is classified as a horse.

group of haflinger horses
Image Credit: Sigena-S, Shutterstock


Final Thoughts

The hard-working, highly social, but slightly stubborn Haflinger horse is beloved throughout the world. As a smaller breed, they’re excellent for many jobs and activities and are widely used to teach beginners how to ride. They also make excellent pets since Haflingers are gentle and calm.

If a pleasant, strong, and relatively small horse is what you’re looking for, or you want to learn to ride and want to choose the right horse, you can’t go wrong with a Haflinger. The average Haflinger foal costs between $500 and $1,000, which is more affordable than most breeds.

Featured Image Credit: Bianca-Grueneberg, Shutterstock

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