When I went to see my friend Ignazio in Rivoli, he wanted to show me the new horse of his friend Beppe. He is a 83 years old man who loves to go trekking with his friends. Together with Ignazio he went to pick up a young Haflinger. In Italy they actually call this breed “Aveglinese”.
Even if somebody says the Haflinger is an Austrian breed, it´s not really true. It originally comes from Alto Adige, that is an Italian region close to the Austrian border. This small and stocky mountain horse has lived in a place called Hafling since the Middle Ages.
The term Aveglinese results from the Italian version of Hafling, that is actually Aveligna or Avelengo.
These horses were mainly used for carrying the goods over the Alps, and it´s still today one of the most steady horses you might ride in the mountain. They are incredible strong and long lasting horses that never get tired.
Beppe by the way, has made a great choice for his future rides in the mountains, but his horse is very young. Young horses for elderly people have never been the best choice, and he is still waiting for a girl to train him a bit more. This type of Haflinger that Beppe has got, is the typical old type. It´s perfect for pulling the wagon.
Today the modern bred Haflinger is a bit taller (around 1,50 cm of height at withers) and they are built lighter.
The wonderful colors are still the same, almost white mane and tail and a redish or palomino color on the body.
The first horse I bought in Italy was actually a Haflinger. She was not so tall, but very very strong. It was a problematic horse to begin with, but even if she kept som of her defects, she became a great trekker. She could go places where no horse has ever put his foot, and she could run all day long. My biggest mistake was the day I changed her for a more quiet and well behaved Quarter horse…
If I had kept dear Wolke, I would have avoided all the health problems I´ve had with my last horses.
Wolke and me
But you learn as you live, and I believe that the Haflinger is the most long lasting horse breed in this country. They remind me a bit of the Norwegian Fjord horses and the Islandic horses. For me the most important thing is that I know that Wolke has a great life in the hills near a famous Italian lake. Must she keep running for many years to come!