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Have you owned a Haflinger? And do you like them for pleasure riding?

L. F.


Although generally considered a draft horse, the Haflinger is also frequently used under saddle. Having never ridden -- let alone owned -- a Haflinger, I referred your question to a couple of friends who have.

"Wagon Master" Duane Barrow has had a couple of Haflingers and tells me that they "ride nice" and are used a lot as saddle horses overseas -- especially in Austria. Short (usually about 14 hands), stout and stocky, they are becoming increasingly popular for dressage. Classed as cold-bloods, they are more docile than the warmblood breeds.

Shelley Pearson, a former riding stable manager, had this to say about a Haflinger named Penny:
"Penny was an awesome trail guide horse out at the riding stable... she was real steady out in front... if she did spook, she spooked on the spot, no flight instinct kicking in, and whenever I had to get off to go adjust another horse's tack, she waited up front for me -- I never had to go chasing after her. My husband loved to take her out on drives -- she performed beautifully in harness. Penny had a nice steady walk, and a nice easy slow trot, very manageable to sit and/or post, but I found that if I asked her to do a fast trot or even a canter, it was very choppy, so I rarely ever went faster than a slow trot on Penny. Because I had too many horses to care for, I sold her to the Circle R ranch near Long Prairie and I have been hearing that she is doing very well as a trail horse for their camp sessions. I miss her, I really enjoyed that breed, and so did my husband."

In the top photo at right, Drew Hise and Whitney Heinrich show how well Haflingers Spud and Astro do even without a saddle, while in the second picture Steve Heinrich and Whitney work them in harness pulling Duane's "covered wagon". (Both photos by Bob Lemen. All rights reserved.)

Spud and Astro ridden bareback

Spud and Astro in harness

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