Free Horses




Risk Level: not at risk
Local Risk Level: not endangered
Seasonal free during the summer months on alpine pastures

Haflinger horses are one of the most popular horse breeds because of their versatility, smart and easy character and charismatic chestnut colour with white hair. They are perfekt companions for any leisure activity, can be ridden by adult and children, some show talent for equestrian competitions and they are very popular for driving. The Haflinger horse is a relatively young breed of the late 19th century, which developed up to the first World War. It all started with a cross of a partbred Arabian stallion with and some partbred and refined landraces (probably Noriker), when 1874 the colt Folie was born in Schluderns, today’s South Tyrol. The farmers of this time liked the type of the stallion Folie and crossed him with more partbred landraces, and the Haflinger horse was born. They were used mostly as packhorse in the higher alpine areas, where the local draft horses (Noriker) were to heavy to climb. With the end of the first World War Tyrol got split up between Austria (Tyrol) and Italy (South Tyrol), but the Haflinger horse remained one of the most common breeds in both countries and later in Germany and Switzerland.

The breed has the name of the village Hafling, which is located just above Merano in mountains of South Tyrol. The Italian name of the village is Avelengo, this is why the Haflinger is also known as Avelignese. There is a rumor that these would be separate breeds or different types, which is not correct. 

Transhumance is a traditional practice that has shaped much of the landscape in the Alps, as without it, most areas below 2,000 m (6,600 ft) would be forests. While tourism and industry contribute today much to alpine economy, seasonal migration to high pastures is still practised in Bavaria, Austria, Slovenia, Italy and Switzerland. In some places, cattle, horses and goats are taken care of by local farmer families who move to higher places. In others, this job is for herdsmen who are employees of the cooperative owning the pastures. The animals live in high pastures for a summer from June to October depending weather conditions and altitude. They are allowed to roam free on a vast area, usually don’t have any shelter but what the landscape offers in trees and rocks. The German language knows a few words for transhumance like “Almsommer” or “Sommerfrische”. It is a popular way to bring up the young stock, so they can develop their character, social behaviour, instincts and sure-footness.


Here are some places where you can see Haflingers roaming free on alpine pastures and where you can support the breed. A big thank you to everybody who works with me.

  • Haflinger Pferdezuchtverband Tirol
  • Silvia Auer
  • Familie Scheiber
  • Familie Kirchebner
  • Kühtai Alm
  • Arztaler Alm Fam. Maier
  • Familie Guggenmoos
  • Südtiroler Haflinger Zuchtverband
  • Seiser Alm
  • Katja Müller
  • Norbert Rier
  • Familie Mahlknecht
  • Ochsenbergalm