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Breed Standards

This document shall serve as the breed standard for Haflinger horses registered with the American Haflinger Registry, and is to be used as reference for all Haflinger breed classes at shows and at breed inspections.
(Revised August 17, 2005)

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BREED: Haflinger Horses

ORIGIN: The Haflinger breed was founded on the indigenous small horses of the Tyrolean Mountains’ oriental half-blood 133 El`Bedavi XXII (1868) with the stallion 249 Folie

DESCENT: After the stallion Folie, crossing with a horse from another breed is not permitted either on the side of the stallion or the mare. Pure breeding is the primary guideline for the breeding objectives of the American Haflinger Registry


Color:  Color may range pale chestnut to dark liver chestnut with pale mane and tail. Color impurities in the base color, as in roaning, black spots etc. are undesirable and excessive deviations will be judged as negative and strongly discouraged for breeding animals. Color impurities in the mane and tail are undesirable and excessive deviation from white or flaxen will be judged as negative and strongly discouraged for breeding animals.

Markings:  Head markings are desirable, but not a prerequisite, too many markings are undesirable and can go as far as being strongly discouraged. Leg markings are not desirable: One white leg will not be penalized, two white legs will result in a one point deduction, three white legs will result in a two point deduction, and horses with four white legs or white above the knees or hocks will be strongly discouraged from breeding. A white leg is a white sock that extends above the fetlock joint. White markings are signified by a change in skin pigment.

Size:  The desired size is from 54 in. to 60 in. Non-achievement of the minimum size should result in the horse being strongly discouraged from breeding. The maximum size may be exceeded in the case of an excellent or outstanding exterior evaluation.

Type:  A desirable appearance of the horse is one of elegance and harmony. To this belongs a lean and expressive head with large eyes, well formed neck and supple mid-section, a good croup not too divided and not too short, a distinct musculature as well as correct, defined limbs with good joints. Stallions and mares for breeding should have clearly defined masculine or feminine features.

Undesirable is in particular a stout, plump non athletic appearance, a coarse head, unclear contours, undefined joints, and coarse limbs as well as a lack of defined masculine or feminine features.

Body structure: A harmonious body structure that is suitable for all-round pleasure horse. It should have the following qualities:

  1. The head should be noble and lean, the size in harmony with the horse, with large forward pointing eyes and wide nostrils. The head should have enough poll freedom to allow for correct flexion, a clean connection of the head to neck through the jowl area and correct positioning of the ears.
  2. The neck should be medium long and slimmer towards the head, with no bulky lower line, not too wide and demonstrate good freedom of the lower jaw muscles.
  3. A pronounced withers reaching well into the back, large diagonally lying shoulders and sufficient depth of chest are the most striking distinguishing features of the forehand.
  4. The back should be medium long and muscular as well as displaying swinging, load bearing capacity and balance in its movement.
  5. The hindquarters should have a long, slightly sloping but not too steep with a not too obviously divided well-muscled croup. The tail should not be set too low.
  6. All in all a harmonious distribution of the forehand, mid-section and hindquarters is to be aimed for.
  7. Front and hind limbs are extremely important and should have correct conformation and clearly pronounced joints, with a broad and flat knee-joint and a broad strong hock. A full range of bone measurements proportionate to height shall be considered, with special attention to the quality of the cannon bone, as indicated by an oval shape, clean connection to both the fetlock and pastern joints, and clear definition of the tendons and ligaments. Seen from the front and from behind limbs should show straight conformation, seen from the side a straight standing foreleg and hind leg angled at approximately 150° at the hock as well as a hoof angle of approximately 45° to 55° to the ground are desirable. The pasterns should be moderately long and well developed. The hooves should be round, distinct and hard.
  8. The stride should be correct, supple and of a pure rhythm without serious faults.
  9. The horse should have as good as possible long-reaching swinging stride at its disposal with an elastic and not too flat gait, showing good impulsion from behind.
  10. In particular an excellent character without vices and an even temperament.

Not Desirable is :

  1. A lack of harmony in the body structure and a lack of features defining masculinity or femininity.
  2. A head that is coarse or too big, a Roman nose or even a too wide or too small head are undesirable. In compliance with AHR licensing requirements, faults of the mouth such as parrot or monkey mouths will exclude stallions from being licensed. These faults in mares are strongly discouraged.
  3. In particular a short, heavy or deep-set neck structure.
  4. A small, steep shoulder, a short or less pronounced withers or too little depth of chest.
  5. A back that is too short or overlong, or soft or too stiff. The loin coupling is of great importance: The longer the distance from the withers to the coupling and/or the longer the distance from the last rib to the point of hip, the weaker the back. A high “waist” as well as narrowness from left to right sides over the loin coupling also indicates weakness. Structural strain or breakdown is indicated by lumpiness in this area.
  6. A short or straight croup with a high set tail or a too broad and strongly divided croup.
  7. Incorrect limbs such as the following: small, slim or restricted joints, too weak or too massive cannon bones and short, steep or too long or too soft pasterns as well as small or too steep hooves, in particular with inwards or outwards directed frog as well as the following conformations; pigeon toed, splay footed or knock-kneed or bow-legged front legs, narrow or wide at the hocks. Further undesirable are calf knees or bench knees, steep or sickle-hocked, cow-hocked or bandy-legged limb conformations.

Movements: The basic gaits: Desirable are hard-working rhythmic and swinging basic gaits (Walk 4-time, trot 2-time, canter 3-time). The movements at a walk should be relaxed energetic and elevated. The movements at the trot and gallop should be supple, swinging, light on the feet with a noticeable swinging phase and with a natural suspension. The clear thrust of the foot from an active working hindquarter should be transferred over a loosely swinging back to the anticipating forehand moving freely from the shoulder. Some knee action is desirable. In particular the canter should demonstrate a clear forwards and upwards springing sequence.

Undesirable are especially short, flat and non supple movements with a stiffly held back, heavy movements falling on the forehand or movements without rhythm as well as, pigeon-toed, traveling wide, splay-footed movements, interference, brushing or rope-walking.


Desirable is a horse with a strong character, a good-natured, strong, all-round, eager and able to perform, an easy feeder, resistant, and easy to acclimatize that is useful for all purposes. In particular this is valid for riding, driving and vaulting in the pleasure and sport sector, but also as a working horse for pulling and carrying.

Breeding Horse Classification:

For recognition of the predisposition for performance the following features will be examined:

  1. Character and temperament as observed by the judges during the inspection and measurement process.
  2. Conformation, shown standing in hand.
  3. Basic gaits (walk and trot) shown on the triangle
  4. Free schooling, including canter or gallop

The Classification of breeding horses aged 6 or over are final decisions, the judgments will not be revised up or down afterwards, however, an owner is entitled to one appeal and the opportunity to re-present the horse one time only at a later inspection under different judges. The decision at the second inspection will be final. The measurements for entry in classification records are typically taken at 3 years. These measurements correspond to the minimum and maximum sizes laid down in the breeding objectives. Failure to attain the minimum height at 3 years means the animal will be strongly discouraged from breeding.

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