American Haflinger Alliance

History and Museum

The story of Haflinger horses.

The breed origin can be traced to medieval times when writings told of an Oriental breed of horse found in the Southern Tyrolean Mountains of present day Austria and northern Italy. Many of the villages and farms in the Tyrol were accessible only by narrow paths requiring light, agile and surefooted horses for transportation and packing. Artwork from the region in the early 1800s depicts a noble chestnut horse with riders and packs traversing steep mountain trails. But it was many years later before a horse would officially bear the name of the the Hafling region.

Follow the timeline below to learn how….


through the years

Otto Schweisgut, Austrian Haflinger Authority
The stallion 42 Mandl, born in 1904. The B, M, N, S, and St stallion lines can all be traced to him.
Sturdy Haflingers helped bear the burdens of world wars and reconstruction
Cold temperatures and hard work helped prove the Haflinger’s value in Europe
Distinctive Haflingers began to appear in other parts of the world after the wars.
The first shipment to the US, Tempel Farms photo
Popular with small farmers, even today many Haflingers help earn their keep in the fields.
You can still find Haflingers in traditional tack at horse fairs and festivals
At the farm of Josef Folie, a golden colt was born to a small, light, warmblooded mountain horse and a half-Arabian stallion. Named for his owner, 249 Folie became the foundation stallion of the breed that would eventually be named for the Hafling region. All Haflingers today trace their lineage directly to Folie.
On May 2, 1898, the Austro-Hungarian Empire officially recognized the breed: 249 Folie and his offspring were officially referred to as Haflinger horses.
The first Association of Haflinger Breeders was formed, and the first mare and stud book was created.
WWI interrupted the progress in breeding; most horses were handed over to the army. The Haflinger population decreased and the existing studbook regulations were destroyed.
After the defeat of Austria-Hungary, support and demand for the Haflingers decreased. In 1921, a horse breeding commission was appointed in Italy, and the Haflinger Horse Breeders’ Association in Tyrol was formed in Austria. Haflingers have been registered without pause ever since, and they must be purebred back to the founding stallion. Only purebred Haflinger mares of the appropriate type and model were registered in the studbooks in Tyrol. It was also at this point in development that the seven foundation stallion lines were formed.
Tempel Smith of Tempel Farms in Wadsworth, Illinois, imported the first Haflingers from Austria to the United States.
As the breed continued to spread throughout the US and Europe, the World Haflinger Federation (WHF), the first international organization was established at the Fohlenhof Ebbs stud farm in Tyrol. Otto Schweisgut was elected president and for several decades he worked to market and spread the breed all over the world.
After Tempel Smith imported his first Haflingers, Arthur Heisdorf from Washington and Robert Monsarrat from Ohio imported Haflingers in 1961 and 1968, respectively. Soon after that, the three men began discussions to form a breeding organization. Monsarrat met with Otto Schweisgut in 1975 to discuss forming a registry under the new World Haflinger Federation, and the first registry in North America – the Haflinger Association of America (HAA) – was formed in 1976.
Monsarrat focused his efforts on tracking down Haflingers that been bred and sold over the last twenty years, but many members wanted more involvement in sales and shows. In 1983, a second registry was formed at the home of Dean and Jewel Woodward, with Ben Winkler and Dewitt Studebaker. The Haflinger Registry of North America (HRNA) was formed with goals to encourage breeding and promote more interest in Haflinger classes at shows.
A new registry called Haflinger Breeders Organization (HBO) was founded under the guidance of Johannes Schweisgut and as a member of the World Haflinger Federation. Its main purpose was to provide inspection and classifications for Haflingers in North America and promote the Haflinger as an ideal all around horse through the use of selective breeding.

Haflinger Breeders Organization hosted the first inspection in North America. Thirty-seven horses were presented, and twenty-nine were approved and entered into HBO’s main stud book.

HRNA and HAA both continued to grow, but both organizations held a belief that one registry would be best for the breed. After several failed attempts to form a single organization, a Unification Proposal drafted by Joel Greenisen, Aden Miller, Brian Winkler, Bob Wallace and Bea Wallace was sent to members of both HAA and HRNA with a positive response. In 1998, HAA and HRNA merged to form the American Haflinger Registry.
AHA! The first and only alliance for Haflinger owners and fans to Dream Big, Do Stuff, and Have Fun is born!

Haflinger Foundation Stallions

All modern Haflingers are descended from just seven influential stallions. The seven foundation stallion lines, formed in the 1920s, are A, B, M, N, S, St, and W. Haflinger folks sometimes refer to their horses by sire line reference, for example, “my horse is an A-line stallion, out of an N-line mare.”

The Haflinger naming convention is that all fillies are named for the first letter of their dams, and all colts are named for their sires. For example, our logo horse, Sassy, is named with an S because her dam was named Sarcasm. If Sassy had been a colt, her name was planned to be Wiseacre, because Sassy’s sire was named Wise Guy, a W-line stallion. I heard that Sarcasm is bred back to Wise Guy, and if it’s a filly they’re going to name her Snarky. (Just kidding on the breeding of a make-believe horse caricature, but… you get the idea.)

Founder of the A-line: 999 Anselmo

Born in 1926, 6th generation Haflinger
Although the A-line is considered one of the most important stallion lines today, Anselmo was not used for breeding for much of his life. When a lack of stallions after World War II caused concerns that the line would not survive, he was purchased in 1947 at the age of 21 by the Haflinger Breeders’ Association of Tyrol to cover mares from valuable maternal lines. He ultimately produced eight stud stallions, four of which were used for breeding.

Founder of the B-line: Bolzano

Born in 1915, 5th generation Haflinger
At the separation of South Tyrol from Austria, Bolzano was one of the few stallions to remain there, and with no quality line breeding undertaken in South Tyrol, the line was nearly lost. The Haflinger Breeders’ Association of Tyrol saved the line with the purchase of his grandson, Bozen, in 1965, and has since attempted to build up the strength of the B-line.

Founder of the M-line: Massimo

Born in 1927, 7th generation Haflinger
Massimo had a large initial influence on the breed with his six sons, including 1262 Midas, but over time has become known for producing outstanding daughters.

Founder of the N-line: Nibbio (Niggl 2)

Born in 1920, 6th generation Haflinger
One of the strongest stallion lines today, Nibbio is well known for producing excellent quality throughout the N-line. His line split into two branches: Naz in Germany and Austria, and Nautilus in Italy.

Founder of the S-line: Stelvio

Born in 1923, 6th generation Haflinger
Another less populous and relatively weak line, Stelvio’s S-line has resulted in individually successful horses, but none of an overall importance. The Haflinger Breeders’ Association of Tyrol has also attempted to strengthen this line with targeted breeding.

Founder of the St-line: Student

Born in 1927, 6th generation Haflinger
Student spread the St-line through the world, especially through his son Stromer. Initially prolific, the line weakened in subsequent generations, although focused breeding has a shown a recent improvement in the line.

Founder of the W-line: liz Willi

Born in 1921, 5th generation Haflinger
Although dominant today, Willi’s W-line was nearly lost. He produced far more daughters than sons, only four of his sons were kept for breeding. Of those, one died after minimal breeding, one was placed in an area with poor quality mares, and one (Willi I) was exported to Syria. Although Willi I’s line was continued by his grandson Wieland, Wieland’s dam was unregistered and so he was avoided. Willi’s fourth son, Wardein, was purchased late in life at the age of 20 to save the line. Much like Anselmo, he became incredibly influential.

999 Anselmo

Nibbio (Niggl 2)

1074 Student

401 liz Willi

Want to Learn More?

Check out
Haflinger Horses
In North America

by Beatrice L. Wallace

Plus, don’t miss our interview with Bea, coming in April to the Learning Library!

Did You Know?!

Although the United States followed the Austrian naming convention, it’s worth noting that because there were no S-line stallions in the country, St-line foals were allowed to be named with just an S until the early 1990s. Breeders and owners now know that foals born in the US prior to that time named with an S are really of the St-line.

Historic Photos

More photos coming soon!

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