Tuesday September 20
After a great night’s sleep at the Edelweiss & Gurgl Hotel in Obergurgl, and a sumptuous buffet breakfast, our group assembled for the 60-second walk across the street to the Scheiber Haflinger facility. The cozy stables were on the bottom floor of a massive traditional barn, with a new light-filled indoor riding hall adjacent that offered spectacular views of the mountains in every direction. We greeted the farm’s elite mares, then enjoyed a presentation of their lovely weanling fillies in the arena. We never grow tired of watching beautiful baby horses playing!
The mommas got to show off in the arena too- and these are working women, not only broodmares. All are beautifully trained to ride and are used in the resort’s riding school. Six of our group chose to enjoy a lovely jaunt riding up the mountain that was a highlight of our trip, aboard elite- dare we say famous?- Haflinger mares in the Alps! One lovely gelding joined the ladies as we clip-clopped through the quiet village streets, making delightful hoofsongs down the narrow passages and then up towards the ski slopes for a gorgeous valley view.
It gave us a whole new appreciation for the sale fillies, riding their mothers and seeing where they were raised, due to the hospitality of the Scheiber family. What a thrill and thank you Lorena Scheiber for sharing your mares and helping us have a great day! For those who didn’t ride, visits to see the Scheiber cattle, and a lovely trek to the youngstock pasture to view up-and-coming yearling and two year-old Haflingers made for a great morning as well.
After our morning spent riding or enjoying the beautiful weather and animals in Obergurgl, the group motored to the world-famous Swarovski Kristallwelten in nearby Wattens. Located at the world headquarters of Swarovski Crystal, the Kristallwelten is part park and gardens, part museum, part art gallery, part shopping mall, and all awe-inspiring. More than 15 million guests have enjoyed the many exhibits here since the attraction first opened to celebrate the 100th anniversary of the company’s founding by Daniel Swarovski in 1895. Most intriguing were the Chambers of Wonder, exhibits incorporating Swarovski crystal elements by famous artists like Salvador Dali and Andy Warhol from around the world. From Hollywood to avant-garde multimedia installations including a huge very cold room filled with real falling snow, everything at Swarovski simply shimmered with crystals…even the spectacular desserts at Daniel’s Restaurant where we enjoyed a relaxing lunch.
Fully sparkled, we then moved on to Schwendau to the Neuner Haflinger Farm to see their lovely horses and of course enjoy more schnapps and a lovely array of finger food snacks. A highlight of this visit was to see liz.201 Standschutz, retired after a long and successful career as a licensed breeding stallion having produced a dozen licensed mares and 9 approved sons. At 27 years old, this handsome gentleman is still every inch the correct and lovely Haflinger.
Next we drove to our evening’s accommodations in Munster at the Hauserwirt Hotel, owned by the Wagner family who have produced top Haflingers for generations. Before dinner, we toured their stables filled with gorgeous and accomplished Haflingers. Several of us also toured the Wagner’s dairy barns filled with lovely cattle whose bells made beautiful music as they quietly chewed hay. We then enjoyed a fabulous traditional Austrian dinner and raucous good conversation at the hotel, complete with Haflingers watching us through windows from the barn adjoining the dining room!
Happy, full of new memories, and tired, we said “Gute Nacht!” to our equine dinner guests and went upstairs to our comfortable rooms to rest up for another day of Haflinger Adventuring.