Unlike most other breeds, a Haflinger can easily be recognised at a glance by everybody. Their beautiful appearance and evident charm make these blond South Tyroleans memorable; and their full, silky white mane makes them the envy of horse owners of other breeds.
Over the years, the Haflinger horse has had to adapt to changing demands. Once, breeders were looking for a small, sturdy and efficient working horse which was calm whilst pulling the cart, but without being stolid. A reliable, sure footed packhorse with untiring energy was needed. Due to its origins as a mountain horse, the Haflinger is usually characterised by good health and needs only small amounts of fodder.
As it has proved performing well in the hardest working conditions and as a military horse, the Haflinger has always been of reliable character, with nerves made of steel. Perhaps it were these attributes which have earned it the reputation of being a little hardheaded or stubborn. Those who are familiar with this breed know that this reputation is undeserved. On the contrary, Haflinger have simply learned to avoid unpleasant situations or at least put up with them stoically. And in order to tell the whole truth behind this attitude, it needs to be said that most Haflinger have their own definition of what an â€˜unpleasant situationâ€™ implies.
Nowadays, the Haflinger is used increasingly for sports and leisure purposes, but breeders try to conserve its characteristics as a sturdy, healthy and kind natured horse with strong nerves and a passion for working with humans. Efforts have been put into breeding slightly lighter and taller horses with a longer back. In recent years, breeders have gone to great lengths to progress and improve the Haflinger's physical characteristics which are responsible for its quality of gait.
However, the horse's â€˜personalityâ€™ is equally important, since both appearance and character make up the special charm of the South Tyrolean Haflinger; qualities that cannot be measured in inches. The typical charm of these horses derives from a combination of factors, most importantly their compact and harmonious body proportions together with their mild yet lively nature, which can be observed in their expressions, posture and behaviour.
A Haflinger is indeed something quite special, and not only so in terms of looks and appearance: it is reliable, strong, energetic and very endearing. After all, it is its unique charisma which makes it so distinctive.