American Haflinger Alliance

Haflinger Adventure Sassy Souvenir Filly Update!

When last we shared about our Haflinger Alliance club members’ trip to Austria last fall, we had just decided that a beautiful Haflinger Filly would be the ultimate souvenir to take home from our journey. And so bought one!

Several of our Austrian Haflinger Adventure travelers joined to form The Sassy Syndicate to buy the weanling Tyrolean Haflinger filly “Hannika” from breeders Familie Hochfilzer in October, 2022. Sired by liz.483/T Narkos and out of L20555/T Havana (the letters and numbers before the sire and dam names indicate they are Tyrolean-bred and licensed breeding stock) our filly was instantly known as Sassy, also the name of the cute cartoon logo horse of the Haflinger Alliance. Sassy was inspected and graded as ‘Klasse 1” or first class, the highest designation by the Tyrolean Haflinger experts. Large, beautiful, and full of presence, we now had to figure out what to do with a weanling filly we had purchased in a foreign country.

Fortunately, our fellow travelers and Haflinger-enablers Karen and Dirk Young of Twin Birch Farms in Skaneateles, NY had purchased three outstanding weanling fillies while in Austria, and coincidentally four fillies fit in a shipping container together so… destiny! We had a full load of gorgeous golden girls to import back to the US together. Thanks to the Twin Birch crew, who have imported horses previously, arrangements were quickly made, reams of paperwork processed, and all four fillies were soon on their way from Austria to Belgium for their first airplane ride.

From Belgium, the girls were loaded into a horse flight container then put on board a cargo plane bound for The Ark at JFK airport in New York city ( All four fillies flew without incident- such brave young ladies!- and loaded and unloaded quietly. Because they were not of breeding age, the girls spent only a few days quarantined in New York and then the Twin Birch team picked them up for a five hour ride through Manhattan Friday afternoon traffic and on to the farm’s headquarters in upstate New York.

Although tired (but did you know horses don’t get jet lag? Because they can’t tell time!) after their 4,200 mile journey from the Alps of Austria to the green pastures of New York, the girls adapted quickly and began to learn English and the lessons young fillies must learn. Throughout the winter of 2022 and early spring of 2023, Sassy and her school chums Lakosta, Taja, and Funny ran and played in pastures sometimes grassy and sometimes snowy, polished their skills at being civilized young horses, having their feet handled and trimmed, being groomed and getting their hair styled, leading nicely over all manner of obstacles including tarps and poles, and generally learning to behave as well-bred young Haflinger ladies should behave.
The outstanding team at Twin Birch Farms actually had SEVEN youngsters to work with all winter between the imported and home-grown weanlings- that’s a barnful of babies! On January 1 the gang all turned into yearlings, and their lessons continued in the fields and indoor arena at the farm. Twin Birch owners kept The Sassy Syndicate closely informed about our filly’s progress and even a setback with a cold that clung longer than we’d hoped, but the learning and growth continued and soon we had a tall, confident filly who seemed to consistently live up to her name: Sassy!

The Sassy Syndicate knew that our filly would need to leave Twin Birch in April, as the farm’s previous commitments would limit their time to keep an outside horse. After Sassy’s wonderful winter spent playing and learning with friends at Twin Birch, the syndicate members chose to send Sassy for her next training to Woodward Performance Haflingers in Coshocton, OH. Trainer Jacque Woodward is a longtime Haflinger expert with extensive experience in young horses in hand, driving, and under saddle. And, Jacque’s an active member of the Haflinger Alliance, so it felt like Sassy was going to stay with another Auntie who was familiar with training imported Haflingers.

In early May, Sassy made another long but uneventful trip from New York to Ohio, and arrived in time for more grassy fields and more etiquette lessons for young fillies with Jacque Woodward. Regular reports and lots of photos show our filly continuing to grow and thrive in the Woodward training program. She’s making new friends in the pasture, and working a little harder in her lessons in anticipation of attending a few horse shows this summer.

While many folks bring home a beer stein, chocolates, or duty-free schnapps to remember their trip to Austria, The Sassy Syndicate have the ultimate Hafluvver’s souvenir: a gorgeous Tyrolean-bred Haflinger filly who we will continue to watch develop and grow in the years ahead. In addition to our Sassy filly, we also have a thousand photos and seemingly a million memories of all the beautiful places and wonderful people we have met through our love for Haflinger horses. To our fellow Haflinger Alliance travelers, the breeders who hosted us, the Ebbs staff and horses, the Hochfilzer family who bred and sold us Sassy, our friends at the many venues we toured last fall, and the experts at Twin Birch and Woodward Performance Haflingers, we are grateful to you all and excited to continue our Sassy Adventure.