THE HAFLINGER PONY
Although the American Haflinger Registry refers to the Haflinger as a horse rather than a pony, breed standards call for an animal that is 13.2 hands to 14.2 hands. Since by most standards an animal under 14.3 hands is classified as a pony, we will refer to the Haflinger here as a pony.
The Haflinger is said to trace to medieval times in the southern Tyrolean Mountains of the Holy Roman Empire. Today the region is located in Austria and northern Italy. The Haflinger was long known for its distinctive chestnut coloring with white mane and tail, similar to today's Palomino, and its agility and surefootedness on narrow mountain trails. Moreover, the breed has long been distinguished by its quiet, easy-going, forgiving nature, although some characterize them as a bit willful.
In spite of the alleged medieval origins of the breed, the first official documentation of the breed was 1874, with the foaling of a stallion named 249 Folie, the product of a Half-Arabian stallion named 133 El' Bedavi XXII and a native Tyrolean mare, said to have a refined conformation. The breed name is derived from the Tyrolean village of Hafling.
During World War II, the need for a packhorse caused Haflinger breeders to sacrifice height and refinement for strength and stockiness. Although Haflingers are still recognized as a draft breed, since World War II, breeders have returned to the principles of producing more height, solid conformation, good bone depth, and easy-going personality in order to develop an animal that is versatile enough to be both ridden and driven. The white manes and tails are long, flowing, and often curly. Breed standards call for large eyes that are positioned forward, and large, wide nostrils help ensure good endurance. Moreover, the strong hindquarters provide lots of propulsion, popular today in the dressage discipline, and the high knee action makes the modern Haflinger an elegant choice as a carriage horse, either in single or multiple hitch.