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Haflingers - wanting to understand more

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    Haflingers - wanting to understand more

    I have met a little more than handful of haflingers in my life. Adorable, chunky, hairy creatures - but every single one I met was spooky and unreliable, as well as a bit pig headed.

    Is this something of a breed trait? Are they like Welsh ponies, who can be a bit hot? Or am I just unlucky that I've met bad representations of the breed?

    Just to show it's not pony bias, I've never met a fjord I didn't like, and I have met some excellent shetlands. What's with haflingers?

    I have knwn a few (owned by friends). Not like you have experienced. Mary Procopio breeds some of the nicest Halfies around. Her stallion is approved by some WB verbands, too. She is on facebook; here is her farm website. I'm sure she'll fill you in on how cool they are.


      Haflingers, in my experience, tend to be more pony-like than fjords, and if not started properly (and kindly/fairly) they can be little dragons.

      Haflingers are also being bred to be more sporty, which I'm sure plays a role in it as well. Whereas fjords are still more like small drafts.

      I have a haflinger/Morgan cross and while he is generally a Saint (and works 10 months of the year as a therapeutic riding pony), he can also be flighty in certain situations, and feeds off of the energy of his handler and/or rider. So when we ask him to carry a more complex rider, we ensure that his handler is a calm presence. He does NOT tolerate cockiness, though, and will pull out all the pony tricks with cocky people. I am not sure how much of that is breeding, personality, or having been a stallion for almost 9 years, but he has a very ingrained sense of "fair" and if you aren't fair to him he won't give you the time of day.

      we have 4 fjords, my haflinger cross, and a full haflinger in our therapy string, and my guy is the most sensitive of the bunch. The youngest fjord is the "hottest", and the full haflinger (a BIG boy at 15.1hh) and our biggest fjord (also 15.1hh) are the laziest/quietest. The oldest fjord is the strongest and needs a very firm handler or she will drag you around (former eventer/pony club pony, 25 going on 5, haha). The 4th fjord is half sister to our big guy and she is pretty mellow but less lazy than the big guy.

      A friend of mine has a more sporty haflinger mare, and she is hot as any Arab with her owner, but knows how to dial it back for her other riders. She is sharp as a tack and you can see her thinking whenever you look at her. But that thinker quality is what makes her super adaptable, and she does para dressage, working equitation, trail riding, and even vaulting.
      Curious about Trans* issues? Feel free to ask!
      Saving Pennies To Get My Own Canoe


        Haflingers are giant ponies. I don't usually find them spooky, but definately pony opinionated, and can be headstrong. I have done many, many haflingers over the years. What I tell everyone is if you like a pony personality, then the haflingers will be fine. If you don't like a pony personality, don't look at haflingers.


          At the farm i board we have had 3. All of them are pushy. They will push the owner around, and walk all over them. They were not very spooky, but they are very stubborn. NO THANK YOU. i love their size, but that is all.


            The ones I've known weren't spooky, but certainly on the stubborn side, and also adept at breaking fences. They looked and moved a bit like mini draft horses, and knew (and used) their own strength on the ground and in the saddle, and could be resistant. One of them is used in a therapeutic program at my barn.

            I wouldn't be opposed to riding one, for sure, and they're a good height for me, but I wouldn't gravitate to the breed, in contrast, to, say Connemaras or Morgans.
            Check out the latest Fortune's Fool novel, Courage to the Sticking Place!


              All the Halflingers I know IRL are driven & seem seem to excel at it.
              Spooky is the last word I'd use to describe them.

              One friend has gone from driving her Haffie single to adding #2 & in less than a year driving the team. Then she added a 3rd & recently drove them as a unicorn hitch (1 lead with pair behind).
              Another couple, who are Newbs to driving, have a Haffie gelding who seems to be the Soul of Patience, tolerating their Learner errors.

              If I were to add a Driving horse (my Driver is a 35" mini) Halflinger would be a breed I'd seriously consider.
              *friend of bar.ka*RIP all my lovely boys, gone too soon:
              Steppin' Out 1988-2004
              Hey Vern! 1982-2009, Cash's Bay Threat 1994-2009
              Sam(Jaybee Altair) 1994-2015


                The therapeutic riding center I work for has four Haflinger lesson ponies. They’ve been great therapy horses for us, ours have been pretty bombproof and tolerant, but they can be stubborn and have some pony attitude. Three of the four are also very smart, but the fourth, while sweet, is definitely not the brightest.


                  Spooky no - opinionated, headstrong, and likely to try to bully their way out of something they don't want to do - yes.


                    Originally posted by joiedevie99 View Post
                    Spooky no - opinionated, headstrong, and likely to try to bully their way out of something they don't want to do - yes.
                    This. Barn just got a Halflinger to use as a lesson horse. Seems pretty bombproof, good with the kids. Short but stout, so can take a larger rider if necessary. (He takes up my leg more than a 16 hand TB does.)

                    However, the day the barn was running late with turnouts, he felt it was past his time to go out, so he jumped the wheelbarrow of the guy doing his stall and turned himself out. And jumped in pretty good form.


                      In Europe decades ago, we used to get them to retrain.
                      Seems that they are great at training their owners/riders, with expected results when a horse decides what to do, even a quiet, sensible horse.

                      Our trouble was, while they got their manners reinstalled, going back to the same environment, they tended to revert to their true nature.

                      Haflingers are a breed of horse you ask and they give, you demand and they will find ways to resist being told what to do.


                        Original Poster

                        Interesting. I wonder why all the ones I've met are flighty. Two even cribbed! One was on 24/7 turn out in a group and was an experienced rider only type, that's how looky she was.

                        Thanks to all for educating me!


                          Originally posted by endlessclimb View Post
                          Interesting. I wonder why all the ones I've met are flighty. Two even cribbed! One was on 24/7 turn out in a group and was an experienced rider only type, that's how looky she was.

                          Thanks to all for educating me!
                          I wonder, I heard that some breeders were trying to make a lighter horse out of them and so got more hot, reactive and nervous in their lines.

                          Not sure that is true, but is what some said that were at a parade of breeds show event.


                            I agree completely with joiedevie99 . I've never met a Haflinger I liked. They are cute tho!
                            "I once heard a client ask our vet if a horse's brain was as small as everyone says they are. Without pause, the vet smiled and answered: 'Maybe, but have you seen their hearts?'" --Alice Peirce


                              I love ponies, but Halflingers are on the bottom of the list. I found them to be very opinionated, pushy and sorry to say, rude.



                                I have a haflinger, and I'm afraid he's ruined me. I can't imagine loving another horse as much as I love this guy. He's not perfect, but he's such a fun, sane challenge. And at 15.2, he's quite large for a haffie. When I bought him, he had been sitting in a field for five years and was dragging his (second) owner by the lead rope. She had a love hate relationship with him. I only decided to buy him because I knew he had been started right. Also, his sitting trot is so comfortable. And for a breed not known for their canter, his is fantastic. The breeder had him jumping bridleless, competing low level dressage, and thoroughly sacked out. I immediately called the breeder/trainer (Top of the Line Haflingers) and asked if she'd take him for a month to get him back on track. I generally always lead him with a stud chain, and I do think it's this one action that has created a solid foundation for us. If he ever was to get into the habit of running off with me, like his previous owner, I think we'd find ourselves with many, bigger problems. He understand that I'm the boss, but he does try to get out of things (arena work). But, he doesn't bolt. I see bolting mentioned quite a bit with haflingers, and my guess is that it's not fear but evasion from work. They're incredibly smart, curious, and love to work. My humble guess is that there's perhaps a difference between haffies trained to drive (mine was not) and those trained to ride. I don't know that they're the best horse for the stall board and 20m arena circle crowd. I generally ride him bitless in the arena and with a snaffle on the trail. He's not spooky (rides through deer, cattle, dogs, mountain bikers), but he does sometimes need to be pushed forward through "scarier" situations. Just last night we watched as another rider in the arena gave her horse a cookie at the mounting block. He stopped, turned his head around to me, fully expecting the same. There are much tougher to handle breeds out there. For a breed that is so versatile (jumping, dressage, even endurance!), I think they gets a bad rap.

                                Note: posted this a couple times because when I went in to make an edit, I was flagged as spam. Weird.
                                Last edited by Ceffyl_Dwr; Sep. 6, 2020, 08:45 PM.


                                  Original Poster

                                  Originally posted by Suspiria View Post
                                  I agree completely with joiedevie99 . I've never met a Haflinger I liked. They are cute tho!
                                  This is how I feel. God, those CHEEKS I just want to smoosh them. But for attitude, I can't say (from the limited ~8 or so I've seen and worked with) that I like them in the slightest.


                                    I grew up riding Haflingers. The barn owner where I eventually boarded my own horse had a whole band of them.

                                    One in particular was the best pony ever - sure, opinionated, but so tolerant and taught about a bazillion kids how to ride. He is still kicking, retired on a friend's farm. Another friend has one doing most of the PSG - hasn't been the easiest, but she's had a lot of fun along the way.

                                    I'd love to have a sporty Haflinger. I don't mind the pony brain at all, and they can be so much fun.
                                    Originally posted by PeanutButterPony
                                    you can shackle your pony to a lawn chair at the long as its in a conservative color.


                                      I love, LOVE ponies (honestly, even more than horses, if I was forced to choose), and I think this thread has nailed down the fact that while I don't dislike the breed, I'd never gravitate to Haflingers. Haflingers have pony 'tude but with a draft horse's fondness for pushing or staying put as a way to win. I like the more sports car-type pony ride.
                                      Check out the latest Fortune's Fool novel, Courage to the Sticking Place!


                                        Smart, curious, little drafts. With pony attitude. The more I learn about the drafts/driving horses the more fascinated I am. It seems to me that you have two groups: the fairly dead headed, 'you say pull, I pull' group; and the 'I want to work, I'm bored! Okay, I'm working, now convince me that you actually want me to do this, I'm bored' group. I think that most Haflingers fall into the latter category. They want a job, but you had better convince them (politely) of the job's value.