One of the prettiest of pony breeds?and one of the most important European breeds--the Austrian Haflinger comes from the southern Austrian village of Hafling in the Etschlander Mountain area. Along the way, it is said that Arabian blood was added to the breed, not to mention the bloodlines of Hucul, Bosnian, Konik and Norik horses. Years of careful management like this has resulted in a pony of excellent quality that is especially good at either pulling or carrying loads.
The Haflinger is easy to pick out in a herd, because he is always palomino or chestnut with flaxen or blonde mane and tail. He is a medium-sized pony, around 13-15 hands tall, with a rather small, fine head, a soft, intelligent eye, small ears and a small muzzle (nose). He also has strong hooves, sturdy legs, sloping shoulders and a strong, muscular body ? the better to haul or carry weight on long trips! The Haflinger?s back can be somewhat long, and he has a nice, long stride no matter how rugged the ground. In fact, the breed is generally very sound and hardy; it can survive on little food, and even the lungs and heart are strong due to years of living in the thin mountain air. So it's hardly surprising that such ponies often remain active and healthy up to 40 years (that's a very long life, even for a pony!) Nor was any breed ever kinder or more eager to please.
The modern Haflinger is used as a riding and driving pony, as well as in forestry and agricultural work. Though graceful, he can hold his own against even a much larger draft horse when it comes to strength. Best of all, he can carry both children and adults--and he's used more and more in everything from endurance and competitive driving competitions to therapeutic riding, where his steady nature is greatly prized.