The head of a Haflinger horse
|Distinguishing features:||Small horse, sturdy build, chestnut coloring|
|Country of origin:||Austria, Italy|
|American Haflinger Registry:||Breed standards|
|The Haflinger Society of Great Britain:||Breed standards|
|Horse (Equus ferus caballus)|
The Haflinger, also known as the Avelignese, is a breed of horse developed in Austria and northern Italy during the late 1800s. There are several theories as to this breed's origin, but its current conformation and appearance are the result of infusions of Arabian and various European breeds' blood into the original native Tyrolean ponies. Haflinger horses are relatively small, are always chestnut in color, and have distinctive gaits described as energetic but smooth. The breed is well-muscled, but with an elegant appearance. Haflingers have many uses, including light draft and harness work as well as various under saddle disciplines such as endurance riding, dressage, equestrian vaulting and therapeutic riding programs. The World Haflinger Federation (WHF) is the international governing body that controls breed standards for the Haflinger. The WHF is made up of a confederation of 22 national registries, and helps to set breeding objectives, guidelines and rules for its member organizations.
The history of Haflinger horses traces to the Middle Ages, but precise origins of the breed are unknown. There are two main theories: the first is that they descend from horses abandoned in the Tyrolese valleys in central Europe by East Goths fleeing from Byzantine troops after the fall of Conza in 555 AD. These abandoned horses are believed to have been influenced by Oriental bloodlines, and may help explain the high percentage of Arabian blood seen in the Haflinger. A light type of mountain pony was first recorded in the Etsch Valley in 1282, and was probably the ancestor of the modern Haflinger. The second theory is that they descended from a stallion from the Kingdom of Burgundy sent to Margrave Louis of Brandenburg by his father Louis IV, Holy Roman Emperor when the Margrave married Princess Margarete Maultasch of the Tyrol in 1342. There is also a theory that they are descendants of the prehistoric Forest Horse. They also have close connections to the Noriker due to overlapping geographic areas where the two breeds were developed. Regardless of precise origins, the breed developed in a mountainous climate and was well acclimated to thrive in harsh conditions with minimal maintenance.
The breed as it is known today was officially established in the village of Hafling in the Etschlander Mountains. The Arabian influence was strongly reinforced in the modern Haflinger by the introduction of the stallion El Bedavi, imported to Austria in the 19th century. El-Bedavi's half-Arabian great-grandson, El-Bedavi XXII, was bred at the Austro-Hungarian stud at Radautz, and was the sire of the breed's foundation stallion, 249 Folie, born in 1874 at Val Venosta. Folie's dam was a native Tyrolean mare of refined type. All Haflingers today must trace their ancestry to Folie through one of seven stallion lines (A, B, M, N, S, ST, and W) to be considered a purebred. The small original gene pool and the mountain environment in which most of the original members of the breed were raised has resulted in a very fixed physical type and appearance. In these early years of the breed's development, Oriental stallions such as Dahoman, Tajar and Gidran were also used as studs; however, the foals of these stallions lacked many key Haflinger traits and breeding to these sires was discontinued. After the birth of Folie in 1874, several Austrian noblemen took interest in the breed, and petitioned the government for support and direction of organized breeding procedures. It was 1899 before the Austrian government responded, deciding to support breeding programs through the establishment of subsidies; high quality Haflinger fillies were among those chosen for the government subsidized breeding program. From this point on, the best Haflinger fillies and colts were chosen and selectively bred to maintain the quality of the breed. Horses that were not considered to meet the quality standards were used by the army as pack animals. By the end of the 19th century, Haflingers had become common in both South and North Tyrol, with stud farms being established in Styria, Salzburg and Lower Austria. In 1904, the Haflinger Breeders' Cooperative was founded in Mölten, in South Tyrol, with the goals of improving breeding procedures through purebreeding and the establishment of a studbook and stallion registry.
The World Wars
World War I resulted in many Haflingers being taken into military service, and the interruption of breeding programs. After World War I, the Treaty of Saint Germain resulted in South Tyrol (including Hafling) being annexed by Italy, while North Tyrol was kept by Austria. This split was extremely detrimental to the Haflinger breed, as most of the brood mares were in South Tyrol in what was now Italy, while the high quality breeding stallions had been kept at studs in North Tyrol and so were still in Austria. Little effort at cooperation was made between breeders in North and South Tyrol, and in the 1920s a new Horse Breeders' Commission was established in Bozen, which was given governmental authority to inspect state-owned breeding stallions, register privately-owned stallions belonging to Commission members, and give prize money for events. The Commission governed the breeding of the Italian population of both the Haflinger and the Noriker horse. In 1921, because of the lack of breeding stallions in Italy, a Sardinian/Arabian cross stallion was used for the Haflinger breeding program, as well as many lower-quality purebred Haflingers.
If not for the presence of Haflinger stallions at a stud farm in Stadl-Paura in Upper Austria after World War I, the Haflinger may well not exist in Austria today. Despite these stallions, the Haflinger breeding programs were not on solid footing in Austria, with governmental focus on other Austrian breeds and private breeding programs not large enough to influence national breeding practices. During this time, the breed was kept alive through crosses to the Hucul, Bosnian, Konik and Noriker breeds. In 1919 and 1920, the remaining stallions were assigned throughout Austria, many to areas that had hosted private breeding farms before the war. In 1921, the North Tyrolean Horse Breeders' Cooperative was formed in Zams, and in 1922, the fist Haflinger Breeders' Show was held in the same location. Many extant Austrian Haflinger mares were considered to be of too low quality to be used as brood mares, and every effort was made to import higher quality brood mares from the South Tyrol herds now in Italy. In 1926, the first studbook was established in North Tyrol. In the late 1920s, other cooperatives were established for Haflinger breeders in Weer and Wildschönau, and were able to gain government permission to purchase 100 Haflinger mares from South Tyrol and split them between North Tyrol, Upper Austria and Styria. This single transaction represented one third of all registered mares in South Tyrol, and many others were sold through private treaty, leaving the two regions comparable in terms of breeding stock populations. The year 1931 saw another breeders' cooperative established in East Tyrol, and the achievement of Haflinger breeding having spread throughout the entire Tyrolean province.
The Great Depression of the late 1920s and early 1930s dampened horse prices and had an unfavorable effect on Haflinger breeding, but starting in 1938 markets improved due to the buildup for and fighting of World War II. All crossbred horses and colts not of breeding quality were able to be sold to the Army, and higher subsidies were given by the government to Haflinger breeders. However, the demand of the war also meant that many unregistered mares of Haflinger type were covered by registered stallions, and the resulting progeny were registered, resulting in a degradation of breeding stock. In 1935 and 1936, a breeding program was begun in Bavaria through the cooperation of the German agricultural authorities, military authorities and existing stud farms. The first Haflinger stud farm was established in Oberaudorf with brood mares from North and South Tyrol, and several private stud farms were established in Germany. The demand for pack horses and varying amounts of breed knowledge among purchasers resulted in the purchase of both high- and low-quality horses, with mixed breeding results. Purchases by Bavarians also resulted in a further depletion of Austrian and Italian stock, already low from the population depletions of both world wars. However, the German Armed Forces were ready purchasers, and the purchasing and breeding continued. Despite some claims by Germans that only purebred horses were registered, many well known Bavarian studs had crossbred maternal lines. During World War II, Haflingers were bred to produce horses that were shorter and more draft-like for use as packhorses by the military. After the war, breeding emphasis changed to promote refinement and height.
After World War II, the Haflinger breeding programs almost collapsed as the military stopped buying horses and government-run breeding centers were closed. Breeders continued to emphasize those features necessary for pack horses (the largest use by the military), but neglected other key Haflinger characteristics. Haflinger breeding had to be changed to create a horse that complied with modern needs. During this time, all small breed cooperatives were combined into the Haflinger Breeders' Association of Tyrol. Post-World War II Tyrol, as well as the breeding center at Zams, was under the control of American forces, who slaughtered many horses to provide meat for hospitals. However, the troops allowed the breeding director to choose 30 stallions to be kept for breeding purposes, and these horses were relocated to the French-occupied Kops Alm high pasture in Vorarlberg. However, these stallions were later stolen and never seen again. In other areas of Tyrol, all one to three year old colts had been requisitioned by military breeding centers, and so it was necessary to use colts not even a year old for potential breeding stallions. In the years after World War II, some observers feared that the breed was dying out due to indiscriminate crossing with other breeds.
In 1946 and 1947, the decision was made to breed pure all Haflinger horses, creating a closed stud book with no new blood being introduced. The Tyrolean Haflinger Breeders' Association established its own stallion center, and prohibited private breeders from keeping stallions, thus ensuring that the association maintained 100 percent control of breeding stallions. In Bavaria, several young stallions had been saved, and breeders could privately own stallions. Bavarian and Tyrolean breeders maintained close ties and cooperated extensively. North Tyrolean breeders were also able to acquire several high-quality older stallions and lower-quality young stallions from South Tyrol. In 1947, the Federation of Austrian Haflinger Breeders was established as a governing organization for the provincial associations. At this time a large scale breed show was held, attended by visitors from Switzerland, who soon after their return to Switzerland sent a buyers' commission to Austria and were instrumental in founding the Haflinger population in Switzerland. Southern Tyrol found no difficulty in selling its horses, as all of Italy was a market and breeding populations spread as far south as Sicily.
Between 1950 and 1974, even as the overall European equine population was dropping due to increased mechanization, the Haflinger population was increasing. In that time period, the population of registered Haflinger brood mares rose from 1,562 to 2,043. This was mainly due to increased marketing of the breed, and happened even as Norwegian Fjord horses were imported into Germany, reducing the resources available for Haflinger breeding programs. Through well-planned marketing campaigns, the Haflinger became dominant, and remain the dominant small horse breed in the region. In 1954, Yugoslavia and Italy purchased breeding stock from North Tyrol to establish their own Haflinger programs, and in 1956 the German Democratic Republic followed suit. The first Haflingers were imported to the United States from Austria in 1958 by Tempel Smith of Tempel Farms in Illinois and into Czechoslovakia in 1959. Tyrolean Haflingers were purchased by Holland and Turkey in 1961. In Turkey they were crossed with the Karacabey breed, as well as some being purebred. In 1963, the first Haflinger was imported to Great Britain, in 1969 two Haflinger mares were presented to Queen Elisabeth II upon her official visit to Austria, and in 1970, the Haflinger Society of Great Britain was established. In 1964, the first Haflinger was imported to France, and in 1965 the first international Haflinger show was held at Innsbruck, with horses from East and West Germany, the Netherlands, Italy, Switzerland and Austria participating. In 1966, Haflingers were first imported to Belgium, to Bhutan in 1968, and to Poland, Hungary and Albania in subsequent years. The importations to Bhutan, in the Himalayas, encouraged interest in the breed in other parts of Asia. In 1974, the first Haflinger was imported to Australia. The first Canadian Haflinger was registered with the United States breed association in 1977, and a Canadian registry was formed in 1980. Between 1970 and 1975, Haflingers were also imported into Luxemburg, Denmark, Thailand, Columbia, Brazil, southwest Africa, Sweden and Ireland. They have also been imported into Japan. Haflingers maintained a population on every populated continent by the end of the 1970s. Worldwide breeding continued through the 1980s and 1990s, with population numbers increasing steadily.
Although the Haflinger is now found all over the world, the majority of breeding stock still comes from Austria, where state studs own the stallions and carefully maintain the quality of the breed. However, there are breeding farms located in the United States, Canada, Germany, Holland, and England. In 2003 there were almost 250,000 Haflingers in the world.
On May 28, 2003, a Haflinger filly named Prometea became the first horse clone born. Bred by Italian scientists, she was cloned from an adult mare skin cell, and was a healthy foal. In 2008, Prometea herself gave birth to the first offspring of an equine clone, a colt (horse) sired by a Haflinger stallion through artificial insemination. As of late 2008, the American Haflinger Registry does not allow horses born as a result of cloning to be registered, although other nations' registries have not yet entered a decision on the topic.
The name "Haflinger" comes from the village of Hafling, which today is in northern Italy. The breed is also called the Avelignese, from the Italian word for Hafling, which is Aveligna or Avelengo. Haflingers are always chestnut in color, and come in shades ranging from a light gold to a rich golden chestnut or liver hue. The mane and tail are white or flaxen. The height of the breed has increased since the end of World War II, when they stood an average of 13.3 hands (55 inches (140 cm)). The desired height today is between 13.2 to 15 hands high (54 to 60 inches (140 to 150 cm)). Breeders are discouraged from breeding horses under the minimum size, but taller individuals may pass inspection if they otherwise meet the requirements of the breed registry. The breed has a refined head and light poll. The neck is of medium length, the withers are pronounced, the shoulders sloping, and the chest deep. The back is medium long and muscular, the croup is long, slightly sloping and well-muscled. The legs are clean, with broad, flat knees and powerful hocks, with clear definition of tendons and ligaments. The Haflinger has rhythmic gaits that cover large amounts of ground. The walk is relaxed but energetic. The trot and canter are elastic, energetic, and athletic with a natural tendency to be off the forehand and balanced. There is some knee action, and the canter has a very distinct motion forwards and upwards. One important consideration in breeding during the second half of the 20th century was temperament. A requirement for a quiet, kind nature has become part of the official breed standards, and is checked during official inspections.
All Haflingers today trace their lineage through one of seven stallion lines to Folie, the foundation stallion of the breed. Colts are given names beginning with the first letter of their sire's name, while fillies are given names beginning with the first letter of their dam's name. The only place this differs is Italy, where each year all foals are given names beginning with a predetermined alphabetical character. The seven lines are:
- A-line. Founded by Anselmo, born 1926. This is one of the most prevalent lines today, and descendents include the second largest number of stallions at stud. Anselmo was brought back to stud at the age of 21 after a lack of stallions post-World War II incited concerns that the line would not survive. After being brought back to stud, he produced several stallions who are represented in all Haflinger breeding countries worldwide.
- B-line. Founded by Bolzano, born 1915. Bolzano founded a less common line, which although strong in Austria, is not prevalent elsewhere. The line is spreading, though, and several European countries as well as Great Britain and the US are establishing Bolzano lines.
- M-line. Founded by Massimo, born 1927. An Italian stallion, Massimo founded a line that is prevalent in Austria and Italy.
- N-line. Founded by Nibbio, born 1920. Early in its history, the Nibbio line split into two branches, one in Italy and one in Austria. The N-line is the more populous line, with the greatest number of stallions at stud, it is one of two (the other being the A-line) that has a presence in all Haflinger breeding countries. The line is the most prolific in Austria and Italy.
- S-line. Founded by Stelvio, born 1923. The Stelvio line is the least numerous of the lines, threatened with extinction after non-Haflinger blood was introduced in Germany. It is currently strongest in Italy, and Austrian authorities are also working to re-establish the line.
- ST-line. Founded by Student, born 1927. Although the ST line has a large number of stallions, its geographic spread is limited due to unselective breeding in some countries. Germany and the US hold the most horses of this line outside of Austria.
- W-line. Founded by Willi. The W-line was threatened early in its history through crossbreeding, but maintains a strong presence in Holland, Canada and the US, with a smaller population in Austria.
Bolzano and Willi were great-great grandsons of Folie, while the rest were great-great-great grandsons. Especially in the early years of the breed's history, some inbreeding was practiced, both by accident and design. This served to further reinforce the dominant characteristics of the breed.
Haflingers were bred to be versatile enough for many under saddle disciplines, but still solid enough for draft and driving work. The Haflinger was originally developed to work in the mountainous regions of its native land, where it was used as a mountain pack horse and for forestry and agricultural work. In the late 1900s, Haflingers were used by the Indian Army in an attempt to breed pack animals for mountainous terrain, but the program was unsuccessful due to the Haflinger's inability to withstand the desert heat. Today the breed is used in many activities that include draft and pack work, light harness and combined driving, and many under saddle events, including western style horse show classes, trail and endurance riding, dressage, show jumping, vaulting, and therapeutic riding programs. They are used extensively as dressage horses for children, but are also tall and sturdy enough to be suitable as riding horses for adults. In the 1970s, British Prince Philip, Duke of Edinburgh competed with a team of four Haflingers. There are several national shows for Haflingers worldwide, including those in Germany, Great Britain and the United States. Despite the Austrian prohibitions against crossbreeding, other countries have practiced this to some extent. Good quality animals have been produced out of crosses between Haflingers and both Arabians and Andalusian. British enthusiasts maintain a partbred registry for Haflinger crosses.
Breed organizations exist in many countries to provide accurate documentation of Haflinger pedigrees and ownership, and also to promote the Haflinger breed. Most are linked to each other through membership in the World Haflinger Federation (WHF), established in 1976. The WHF establishes international breeding guidelines, objectives and rules for studbook selection and performance tests. They also authorize European and World Shows and compile an annual list of Haflinger experts, or adjudicators. The WHF is the international umbrella organization, with 22 member organization in 18 countries. Membership organizations include the Haflinger Horse Society of Australia, the Australian Haflinger Horse Breeders Association, the Canadian Haflinger Association, the Haflinger Pferdezuchtverband Tirol (Tyrolean Haflinger Breeding Association) and the American Haflinger Registry, as well as a division for breeders in countries that are not already members. National organizations are allowed to become members of the WHF through agreeing to promote pure breeding and maintain the hereditary characteristics of the Haflinger breed. Member organizations must maintain both a purebred studbook and a separate part bred studbook for animals with Arabian or other bloodlines.
A strict system of inspection, beginning in Austria, has evolved to ensure that only good quality stock meeting high standards is used for breeding. This is coupled with close maintenance of the studbook to maintain inspection validity. Mares must be inspected and registered with the stud book before they can be covered, and multiple forms are needed to prove covering and birth of a purebred Haflinger foal. Within six months of birth, foals are inspected, and those considered to have potential as breeding stock are given certificates of pedigree and branded. Horses are reinspected at three years old, checked against written association standards, and if they pass, are then entered into the studbook. After passing the final inspection, Haflingers from Austria and Italy are branded with a firebrand in the shape of an edelweiss. Horses from Austria have the letter "H" in the center of the brand, while horses from Italy have the letters "HI". Horses are graded based on conformation, action, bone, height, temperament and color. Mares must have a fully registered purebred pedigree extending six generations back to be considered for stud book acceptance. Stallions are registered separately. Colts must have a dam with a fully purebred pedigree, and are inspected based on hereditary reliability and likely breeding strength as well as the other qualifications. The registration certification of a stallion must show a fully purebred pedigree extending back four generations and also includes records of mares covered, percentages of pregnancies aborted, still born and live born and numbers and genders of foals born. This information is used to match stallions and mares for breeding. Tyrolean colts undergo an initial assessment, and those not chosen must be either gelded or sold out of the Tyrolean breeding area. The chosen colts are reassessed every six months, until a final inspection at the age of three, during which the best stallions are chosen for Tyrolean breeding, after which they are purchased by the Austrian Ministry of Agriculture and made available for breeding throughout the region. The others are either gelded or sold to other countries. Other countries base their registration and selection practices on Tyrolean ones, as is required by the World Haflinger Federation.
- ↑ 1.0 1.1 1.2 1.3 1.4 Bongianni, Simon & Schuster's Guide to Horses and Ponies, Entry 157
- ↑ Deverill, The Haflinger, p. 5
- ↑ Edwards, The Encyclopedia of the Horse, p. 185
- ↑ 4.0 4.1 4.2 Krause, Louisa, "Haflinger aus Deutschland" (In English) Collaboration of Haflinger Breeders and Holders of Germany (AGH) (Arbeitsgemeinschaft der Haflingerzüchter und -halter in der Bundesrepublik Deutschland e.V.). Referenced August 17, 2008
- ↑ 5.0 5.1 5.2 5.3 Edwards, The Encyclopedia of the Horse, p. 52
- ↑ 6.0 6.1 6.2 "Breed History". American Haflinger Registry. Referenced January 26, 2008.
- ↑ Schweisgut, Haflinger Horses, p. 12
- ↑ Schweisgut, Haflinger Horses, pp. 13–16
- ↑ Schweisgut, Haflinger Horses, p. 19
- ↑ Schweisgut, Haflinger Horses, p. 16
- ↑ Schweisgut, Haflinger Horses, pp. 20–22
- ↑ 12.0 12.1 Schweisgut, Haflinger Horses, pp. 22–29
- ↑ Schweisgut, Haflinger Horses, p. 30
- ↑ Schweisgut, Haflinger Horses, pp. 31–32
- ↑ Schweisgut, Haflinger Horses, pp. 32–34
- ↑ Schweisgut, Haflinger Horses, pp. 35–36
- ↑ Schweisgut, Haflinger Horses, p. 36
- ↑ 18.0 18.1 Hayes, Points of the Horse, p. 400
- ↑ Schweisgut, Haflinger Horses, pp. 38–39
- ↑ Schweisgut, Haflinger Horses, pp. 40–41
- ↑ Schweisgut, Haflinger Horses, p. 45
- ↑ 22.0 22.1 22.2 "Haflinger". Oklahoma State University. Referenced July 16, 2008.
- ↑ Schweisgut, Haflinger Horses, pp. 46–49
- ↑ 24.0 24.1 24.2 Schweisgut, Haflinger Horses, pp. 50–52
- ↑ "History of the Haflinger Horse". The Haflinger Society of Great Britain. Referenced December 20, 2009.
- ↑ 26.0 26.1 Deverill, The Haflinger, p. 22
- ↑ "History of Haflingers in Australia". Australian Haflinger Horse Breeders Association. Referenced July 16, 2008.
- ↑ "Haflinger Breed". Canadian Haflinger Association. Referenced December 20, 2009.
- ↑ 29.0 29.1 Deverill, The Haflinger, p. 24
- ↑ 30.0 30.1 30.2 30.3 "Haflinger". International Museum of the Horse. Referenced January 26, 2008.
- ↑ "Association History". Haflinger Pferdezuchtverband Tirol. Referenced July 16, 2008.
- ↑ Church, Stephanie L. (October 1, 2003). "The World's First Cloned Horse" (Registration required). The Horse. http://www.thehorse.com/ViewArticle.aspx?ID=4654. Retrieved 2010-02-05.
- ↑ Church, Stephanie L. (April 29, 2008). "First Offspring of an Equine Clone Born in Italy" (Registration required). The Horse. http://www.thehorse.com/ViewArticle.aspx?ID=11769. Retrieved 2009-12-22.
- ↑ "AHR Board of Directors Meeting Minutes". American Haflinger Registry. December 2008. http://www.haflingerhorse.com/documents/Minutes08/Minutes08Dec3.pdf. Retrieved 2010-02-05.
- ↑ "The Haflinger Horse in its Country of Origin". Haflinger Horse Italy. Referenced January 26, 2008.
- ↑ 36.0 36.1 "Inspection & Classification Breeding Objectives for the American Haflinger Registry". American Haflinger Registry. Referenced January 26, 2008.
- ↑ 37.0 37.1 Deverill, The Haflinger, pp. 25–27
- ↑ 38.0 38.1 Devefill, The Haflinger, pp. 30–37
- ↑ Edwards, The Encyclopedia of the Horse, p. 53
- ↑ Deverill, The Haflinger, p. 60
- ↑ "Breed Show 2008". The Haflinger Society of Great Britain. Referenced July 16, 2008.
- ↑ "AHR National Show". American Haflinger Registry. Referenced July 16, 2008.
- ↑ Deverill, The Haflinger, p. 95
- ↑ 44.0 44.1 "World Haflinger Federation". Haflinger Pferdezuchtverband Tirol. Referenced December 20, 2009.
- ↑ Schweisgut, Haflinger Horses, p. 56
- ↑ Deverill, The Haflinger, pp. 28–29, 72
- Bongianni, Maurizio (editor) (1988). Simon & Schuster's Guide to Horses and Ponies. New York, NY: Simon & Schuster, Inc.. ISBN 0671660683.
- Edwards, Elwyn Hartley (1994). The Encyclopedia of the Horse (1st American ed.). New York, NY: Dorling Kindersley. ISBN 1564586146.
- Hayes, Capt. M. Horace, FRCVS (1969, Reprinted 1976). Points of the Horse (7th Revised ed.). New York, NY: Arco Publishing Company, Inc.. ISBN ASIN: B000UEYZHA.