American Haflinger Alliance

Health & Care

As a breed developed to survive in the mountains of Austria, Haflingers are notoriously hardy and sound. However, “easy-keepers” can sometimes be anything but, and health issues still arise. Here we’ll collect important information on keeping your Haflingers at their best!

More coming soon! Have a topic or information you’d like to see here? Email us!

Nutrition Information

Haflingers are generally easy keepers, meaning they get by with less feed than some of their buddies, and they can tend to run toward chubby. Perhaps because of this, Haflingers are notoriously fond of food, eating food, thinking about food, and trying to get extra food from somewhat dubious plans (like knocking down fences to reach more food).

Restricting Haflingers from eating as much as they’d like to is often necessary, so it’s important to know what they do need. Listen to experts, not your Haflingers, when it comes to their nutrition requirements.

Horses working for a living have different nutritional requirements than those just chilling in your pasture. Always consult with your vet about weight and nutritional concerns!

More articles coming soon!

Sorry Buddy!

That’s not thick-boned!

Ocular Squamous Cell Carcinoma (SCC)

Different breeds of horses are often more vulnerable than others to certain diseases or problems. Thanks to careful study at UC Davis, we now know that Haflingers can sometimes have trouble with eye cancer. Here’s what you should know:

Ocular squamous cell carcinoma (SCC) is a condition characterized by tumors of the limbus (junction of the cornea and sclera), third eyelid, and/or upper and lower eyelids. If left untreated they may spread into the surrounding eye tissue and cause vision loss.

Studies have shown that, in addition to environmental factors, genetics may play a role in how susceptible horses are to developing SCC.

Researchers at UC Davis identified a variant in the UV damage DNA repair gene that was strongly associated with cancer risk. A single base pair change causes a mutation that changes the 338th amino acid of the gene’s protein product from threonine to methionine. Subsequently, functional evidence determined that the site of the amino acid change is a crucial DNA anchor point, and the mutated protein cannot bind DNA. Thus damage to DNA from the sun cannot be repaired, and the accumulation of DNA damage may lead to cancer.

Haflingers that are homozygous (R/R) for the risk variant factor are 5.6 times more likely to develop ocular SCC than those with one copy (R/N) or no copies (N/N) of the risk factor. This risk factor does not explain all cases of ocular SCC, but it appears to be a major contributor in Haflingers and other breeds.

Although found in numerous breeds, the frequency of the risk allele is approximately 20% in Haflingers. However, testing is now available to assist owners and breeders in identifying high risk horses. Tests are available through UC Davis for $40.

Homozygous horses (R/R) are advised to have routine eye exams performed by a veterinary ophthalmologist for early detection and better prognosis, and to wear a UV protecting fly mask when out during the daylight hours. Breeding homozygous (R/R) and heterozygous (R/N) to each other should be avoided to reduce the chances of producing horses that have a high risk of developing this cancer.