To every person, a Breed: Part I

July 4th Parade with Tanner and the Mecklenburg Hounds

July 4th Parade with Tanner and the Mecklenburg Hounds

I think for most people, ‘types’ just happen. Whether it’s the kind of boy you want to date, or the car you want to drive,  we all tend to gravitate to phenotypes of certain things.

The first ride on Mac

The first ride on Mac

Most of my life, I have been a draft-cross type of girl. So, it should come as no surprise when I say there are 2 different breeds that have played huge roles in my life. Those would be Haflingers and Irish Draughts. First, let’s discuss the ponies. Because, duh, ponies.

A trio of Haffies at North Myrtle Beach (from front to back: Mac, Margo, Tanner)

A trio of Haffies at North Myrtle Beach (from front to back: Mac, Margo, Tanner)

Haflingers
When I was still a horse-crazed but scared-to-death pre-teen, my parents acquired their first Haflinger, hoping to find an all-around pony that the whole family could ride. Marla was picked up out of an old Stablemates magazine (anyone remember those?) and though not fancy, was as dead broke as they came. It wasn’t long before I was riding bareback all over the trails and gaining confidence cantering through the woods.

Birthday trail rides on Marla (left) and Tanner

Birthday trail rides on Marla (left) and Tanner

Seeing the success of Marla, we soon bought our second Haflinger, Tanner. He was another Stablemates find, and was wandering around someone’s front yard in the mountains of NC when we picked him up. For a while Tanner was still a major step for me, but gradually I became brave enough to ride him and he quickly became my main love. Once we got past the trying-to-run-me-into-trees phase, it turned out Tanner was a pony of many talents- foxhunting, trick learning, pony jumpers, parades, swimming… we even kicked everyone’s butt in a barrel racing once (short backs = turn on a dime). The only thing he couldn’t tolerate was arena/flat work.

Hunting first flight with a fuzzy Haflinger

Hunting first flight with a fuzzy Haflinger

Demonstrating his bow

Tanner demonstrating his bow

We soon sold Marla and started going to legitimate Haflinger auctions. Dixie, a beautiful 3 year old sporthorse type mare, joined our group, along with Mac, a rare true liver chestnut 3 year old stallion. I foxhunted Dixie, one of the best foxhunters I’ve ever had, and evented Mac. We traveled to the NC State Fair and showed the two geldings successfully in hand and under saddle, and to this day it’s the only money I’ve ever won showing.

Riding Mac in the St. Patrick's Day Parade in downtown Charlotte, NC

Riding Mac in the St. Patrick’s Day Parade in downtown Charlotte, NC

All these Haflingers, and a couple more, eventually left us for other homes where they could share their special talent. As for me, I ended up being granted a special Haflinger scholarship for my use of the breed as a breed ambassador.

Competing Tanner in the 2'6" Pony Jumpers

Competing Tanner in the 2’6″ Pony Jumpers

I am so glad to see these wonderful, and surprisingly athletic (good jumpers, too!), ponies start to appear more and more in local shows of every discipline. I would definitely advocate for the breed as a great addition to any family, as all-around types that are super cute to boot! My dream is that, when I’m too fragile or too scared to event anymore, to get myself a nice sporthorse type Haflinger and plan for dressage world domination. One can dream, right?

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9 thoughts on “To every person, a Breed: Part I

  1. I LOVE Haflingers. When I was really scared getting back to riding in MA, it was a stout and gentle Haflinger that gave me all my confidence back. They simply are the best 🙂

  2. i always dreamed of my very own haflinger pony when i was younger – perhaps influenced by the ever sweet (tho young and green) haffie Buddy that i adored. these days my ‘type’ is a little different, but i always have a soft spot for these fuzzy ponies!

  3. Pingback: Let’s Discuss: Humble Pie | A House on a Hill

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