© Shady Grove Haflingers

WE ALWAYS HAVE HAFLINGERS FOR SALE

The Perfect Family Horse

Breeding and Training 
 

Why We Love Haflingers

If you’re interested in buying a Haflinger, you also probably want to know what Haflinger owners love about their horses. These qualities are what hooked us on the breed. Generally, Haflingers are known for their calm personalities. Of course, not every Haflinger has a wonderful disposition, but the majority of them are fabulous. They are very intelligent and they love people. Haflingers are beautiful, with a snowy white mane and tail flowing over a copper colored body. They range in height from about 13.0 HH to about 15.2 HH, but the majority run from 14 HH to 14.2HH. This makes them a nice size to drive. They are also a good size for kids to ride and adults are just as comfortable on them. Most are very strong and have no trouble carrying large adults. They generally have good feet and in most cases don’t need shoes. Haflingers are known as “easy keepers” meaning that they are extremely efficient with their feed. They are amazingly athletic and often shock people with their jumping ability. There are two major categories of Haflinger breeders in the United States- those that breed the heavily muscled “draft” type, and those that breed the more refined “pleasure” type which focuses more on riding. These types are an example of the breed’s great versatility. It also means the first Haflinger you see may not necessarily be the type that’s right for you. Please check out all the pictures on our website and let us know if you’d like to see more Haflingers.

Summary and History of the Haflinger Breed

The Haflinger is truly a remarkable horse, but to really understand the breed you need to know a little bit about where it comes from. Here is a brief synopsis of the breed to get you started. The Haflinger is a versatile, low maintenance horse that comes from Austria. It was a farm horse raised by small farm families in the Tyrolean mountain region. This was a good setting to create a great horse, with the mountains helping to select for the hardiest and most efficient individuals and the farm families selecting the most versatile and gentle individuals. But the most significant reason for the success of the Haflinger breed is the Austrian establishment of the breeding cooperative. The Austrians took an incredibly disciplined approach to horse breeding. The co-op was responsible for evaluating the horses and determining which ones were appropriate for breeding stock. Horses that were not approved could not be used for breeding. This very selective process led to rapid and significant improvement of the breed over the last century. 

The breed was used heavily as a military horse during WWII. The Haflinger gained many fans during the war era as this mighty little horse demonstrated its loving personality, great work ethic, its hearty resilience, and athletic ability. But the breed was also set back during this time, as the huge demand for horses destroyed the selective breeding programs, and militaries bred the horses to be smaller, as they were primarily used as pack animals. Quality and size suffered.

At the end of the war, the breeding co-op realized they had a lot of work to do. They realized that this little horse breed was not going to survive as a plow horse. They knew that they would have to add more height to the horse to make it more versatile as a riding horse. The breeders had a clear vision of where the breed needed to go. They wanted to maintain the good nature, loving personality, efficiency of feed, heartiness, and sure-footedness. They wanted to improve on the stature and the elegance.

Otto Schweisgut, the cooperative’s breeding director was also a tremendous salesman. He was a talented promoter who believed in the horse he was promoting with all his heart. In the 1960's, he took his horse to the world, and the world loved the Haflinger. Many other countries began to breed their own Haflingers. 

In the United States, there are many excellent Haflinger breeders. We have plenty of great American Haflingers. We do not have the breeding regulations that are found in Austria- but our top breeders do a nice job of regulating themselves, meaning that they choose high-quality mares and breed them to the finest studs. Unfortunately, we also have poorer quality Haflingers in the US. As more people learned of this great horse in the 1990’s, the popularity soared. Prices rose, and we had an economic condition somewhat similar to that of WWII. The great demand caused people to breed lower quality mares, and sometimes low-quality studs. One of the challenges we face today is getting the public to see our best Haflingers. People I meet are almost universally blown away by the Haflinger breed. They usually say things like, “They’re gorgeous. They’re incredible. Why would anyone want to get another horse?” Unfortunately, some people run into the clunky old “plow horse” first. They believe they already know all about Haflingers and they are not impressed. We need to get these people to come back and take another look. They should visit a top breeding program, and they can start with this website. See our action photos.

Our Beliefs

Our first goal is to breed the highest quality Haflinger we can. We have tremendous foundation mares from some of the top Haflinger families in the world. We breed for temperament first. If our horses turn out beautiful, that's just a bonus. We love Haflinger babies and we love training them. We also try to keep a couple of kid-safe riding horses around at all times. These horses are not necessarily part of our breeding program, they may just be for our family's enjoyment. We always try to keep a variety of good horses for sale. We don't really like to part with any of our horses, but we love to see them go to great new families. If you read some of the letters we receive from new owners after they take our horses home, you'll understand why we get so much satisfaction from placing a horse in a new, loving family.

Our entire philosophy is based on family and this is the reason we bought our Haflingers. We consider the Haflinger to be the perfect family horse. Our horses are sold to families who enjoy them as much as we do. Our philosophy on breeding is based on selecting individual Haflingers from the strongest, most consistent Haflinger lines in the world. Call us or come to meet us and our horses. We'd love to meet you and your family.

Very consistently, we sell about 7 Haflingers per year. About half go to buyers within 150 miles. The rest go all over the United States. Most people come to visit the horses and meet them in person. Some decide to work over the phone and look at lots of videos to make their decision. While we recommend a visit to our farm if possible, we take great pride that quite a few buyers trust us enough to make the purchase without a visit.

When we purchase a horse to train or raise a horse to sell, our target customer is often a grandparent, looking for a trustworthy horse to share as a family activity. Of course, we also work with a lot of parents and people that just want a good horse for themselves. Our most common customer is about 60 and is a grandparent that has been referred to the Haflinger breed. Ideally, all of our horses will ride and drive, but they are all in different stages of training, so ask for specifics when you call or email.

General Facts

How much does it cost to own a Haflinger? At our farm, we use a rough estimate of $1000 a year per horse. But there are many variables, so let’s break that number down a little further. Maybe this will help you to figure out what your costs might be if you're considering getting a Haflinger. The biggest cost is the hay. In our area of the country, hay averages roughly $1 for 10 pounds. That’s $5 for a 50-pound bale or $80 for an 800-pound bale. That number is for non-drought years. But, it can be cheaper in good years too. Experts say a horse needs 1 to 2% of their body weight in hay daily. The average Haflinger weighs 900 to 1000 pounds. So figure 15 to 20 pounds of hay daily to be safe. That is about $1.50 to $2.00 daily in hay. We have quite a bit of pasture grass at our farm, so we feed much less hay from May to October. But if you’re counting on pasture to knock down your hay costs down significantly, you’re going to need about an acre per horse or more. You’ll also have to fence your pasture into small lots so you can rotate your horses on the grass, allowing it time to heal and grow back. Also, try to keep them off of the grass in really muddy weather. You may also want to figure about $30 per acre in reseeding costs annually to keep the pastures in nice condition. Let’s move on to grain. Our Haflingers don’t get much grain. They rotate through on a training schedule and rarely do hard work daily. So the mature horses usually get almost no grain. The growing horses will get a little grain, especially if the pastures are lacking or the quality of the hay is not really good. The stallions get quite a bit of grain as they burn a lot of energy running all over thinking about the ladies. The milking mares use the most energy and will need heavy grain. But, our foals grow so fast that we’re often weaning in about 3 months or so. Then, the mares can go back to pasture. Our young horses get about 2-3 pounds of grain daily. The grain costs about $12 for a 50-pound bag. So the grain is $0.24 per pound. At 2-3 pounds daily, that is 48 to 72 cents. So while a young horse could be eating 72 cents of grain daily, their total body weight might be half of a full grown horse, so they might only be eating half the hay. We’re still probably under $2 in daily feed bills.

Let’s summarize. With some grass to supplement the hay, I can easily feed my average horse for $550 per year. I probably need to budget about $150 per horse in vet bills (which can vary depending on my luck with healthy horses) and roughly $200 annually for the farrier (this can vary by location also). These three items total $900 or $75 per month. I used conservative numbers- I can usually find hay and grain a little cheaper than my estimates. And I can do a little of my own farrier and vet work (simple trims and giving shots and some vaccinations) But I will always have some unexpected bills, so the $1000 annually per horse estimate works pretty well for me. 

Please don't hesitate to call us based on location. We've sold horses across the United States. Here are some of the states where we have either sold Haflingers or assisted people in their Haflinger search- Arizona, California, Colorado, Connecticut, Florida, Georgia, Hawaii, Idaho, Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Kansas, Kentucky, Massachusetts, Michigan, Minnesota, Missouri, Montana, New Mexico, New York, North Carolina, Ohio, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Tennessee, Texas, Vermont, Virginia, Wisconsin, Wyoming.

 

Very Important Note on Horse Safety- While anyone who knows Haflingers will tell you that this breed is renowned for its calm and even temperament, any horse needs to be handled carefully and safely. Horses are large and potentially dangerous animals. Be careful, use your head, and learn about horse safety. We don't want anyone to get hurt.

 

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