haflinger advice! - The Horse Forum
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post #1 of 13 Old 05-23-2009, 09:22 PM Thread Starter
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haflinger advice!

Hi Everyone! I have just come across this forum as I am just getting back into riding after about a 14 year hiatus (I'm 25, but I grew up riding- I was on a horse before I could walk, my mom taught english riding). I am lucky enough to have a horse I can used whenever, for free. He's a haflinger around 10 years old, and belongs to a friend who owns the barn he's at (16 box stall barn, with maybe 10 pasture-only boarders, give or take a few, I'm guessing). It's a long story but while she owns the barn and the land, she barely ever rides (maybe once a month in the warmer months, I live in Vermont) and she leases the barn to an adaptive riding program. This is the barn that I rode at as a child and the original family is the one who now runs the adaptive riding program so I'm back among people I know well, are very knowledgeable and treat the horses wonderfully which is fabulous.

The thing is, Lambchop (the Hafie) is overweight, by a decent amount, and the woman who owns him really hasn't consistently worked him. She basically jumps on and goes for a trail ride. I plan on using him mostly for trails anyway so this is not really a problem, but I would like to do some work with him so that after the summer/fall he could be used for the adaptive riding program (they would like to use him as he is short but can carry a grown adult- he's a good sized hafie, 14.3 or so- but as of now he's too headstrong, dare I say stubborn. I'm hoping with some consistent TLC and training he can be used by them in the winter when I'm not going to be able to ride as much). I'm lucky to be surrounded by good go-to people for help, like my mom who is quite knowledgeable about horses (and luckily has a similar situation at the same barn, there's a horse she can ride up there for the summer as well) and my best friend rode competively all through college so she is quite knowledgeable as well, but this is everyone's first time with a haflinger, and I really want to do as much as I can alone with him to hopefully build up a bond between us as I've read haflingers can really get attached. Is there anything in particular I should know?

I lunged him two days ago for 15-20 min, and rode around for a bit today (30 min of mostly walking) and he's fine with you on his back, but he wasn't good in the arena- didn't really get it. Also he gets distracted by other horses really easily.

I'm sorry for the jumble of things in this post I just wanted to include as much info as possible, and any advice/whatever is so greatly appreciated!
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post #2 of 13 Old 05-23-2009, 10:46 PM
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Originally Posted by MaddVT View Post
Hi Everyone! I have just come across this forum as I am just getting back into riding after about a 14 year hiatus (I'm 25, but I grew up riding- I was on a horse before I could walk, my mom taught english riding).
You're 25 and haven't ridden regularly since you were 11? I'd say that you didn't grow up riding but, rather, rode as a child. I think I'd ask a trainer to give this horse a tune up.

Are you absolutely sure you wanna mess with my carrots?
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post #3 of 13 Old 05-23-2009, 11:18 PM Thread Starter
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While I have not ridden regularly, my twin sister did up until about age 20 and my mom owned a horse until about 4 years ago so while I did not actively ride, I have been around horses still, helping my sister when she showed and occassionally riding my mom's horse. Also, there are several trainers at the barn (it's a very laid back barn) who offer free advice and my mom has been with me everytime I've worked with him, and will continue to be. Sorry if my post was unclear but I was mainly hoping for any info haflinger related, since no one I know has worked with one before. We're taking this process slow and he is fine as is for me to ride on the trail, I was just hoping to possibly do what I could for the riding program I volunteer with. Thanks!
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post #4 of 13 Old 05-23-2009, 11:32 PM
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I would still advise getting assistance from a trainer. I believe Haffies are smart and do test their riders.

Cat is the resident Haffie expert here.
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Are you absolutely sure you wanna mess with my carrots?
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post #5 of 13 Old 05-24-2009, 05:28 PM
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You are in a similar situation as I am. I am riding a haflinger for someone who is too large to ride the horse herself but would like to be able to use her for lessons with kids. So I am working with her to get her used to being worked with and having a rider on her back. I am definitely no expert though, and this is my first time working with a halflinger too. I can agree with the stubborness and testing their riders though, she's a sweety but man she can be a stubborn little mule at times!
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post #6 of 13 Old 05-26-2009, 04:32 AM
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You know how you said "he's overweight" but Haffie's are stocky ponies. And they look a bit tubby. There sometimes used to carry carriges. but he could be bigger then usual. so yeah bye
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post #7 of 13 Old 05-26-2009, 01:19 PM
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I've worked with 2. Our barn still has the 1. Shes a mare and shes very stubborn and can be a brat. Shes also in pain though. She has limes and it isnt getting any better. (we've done the IV stuff and meds) They are a bit stocky but can be mucled up a lot if you know what your doing.

Bailey's Mountain
6 year old tb
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post #8 of 13 Old 05-28-2009, 11:38 AM
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I own a haflinger and they are chubby but the only way you can really tell is press a little on the end of there dorsal stripe and if it is swish they are over wiegh.

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post #9 of 13 Old 05-28-2009, 01:31 PM
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While haflingers are stocky with good bone and can easily carry adults (my boys are 13.2 & 13.3 hands and can carry my 5'9 fluffy frame around just fine) they really should not be overweight. I see so many people say "that is ok, they are haflingers" but it really is not the case. Overweight haflingers can lead to foundered haflingers (or other metabolic disorders) and there are a frightening amount of haflingers out there that are way over weight.

Case in point. A lot of people thought Toby looked just fine here because he is a haflinger, but my vet said - no way too fat. He was 3 years old here.

And here he is at a proper weight as a 7 year old:

See the difference?

Now the best way to get weight loss AND a more cooperative haflinger is to work him and ride him. Build up to long slow rides and trot work. Trotting is the best thing for getting haflingers in shape. Trotting up hills is even better.

You also need to get his respect. Haflingers are smart as can be and their perceived stubornness is that intelligence and they will test you. Haflingers - while very friendly and tend to love people, are suprisingly hard to bond. It can sometimes take months to get them to start truely trusting and bonding to you. They will keep asking "are you a true leader?" But once you get that bond - you have a horse that will do anything for you.

How you get that trust is working with them. Ground work - including ground driving, or even leading them on walks (proper leading manners and preventing grass snatching is something any haflinger could always use work on). Lots of riding - at first shorter rides and slowly buiding up as he gets into shape. Also, don't just be a passenger - actually ride him. Make him circle, serpentines, go over obsticles, work on getting a perfect whoa, back him up, sidepass around logs, etc. This all gets him thinking of you as a leader and more willing to be compliant.
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post #10 of 13 Old 05-29-2009, 03:23 PM Thread Starter
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Thanks everyone! Wow Cat those pictures are really eye openers- I'd say Lamby looks almost exactly like the first picture, if not maybe a little heavier! He out all the time in the pasture so I can't really control what/how much he eats, but I've been going up to the barn 5/6 days a week to work with him. Sometimes we just walk around on the lead (he really likes to walk directly behind me which drives me nuts!) and on the lunge line, etc. He's already really making strides just in the last two weeks. We ride in the arena and on little mini trail rides just sort of around the barn, he really hates to leave the barn/other horses so we're slowly working on further distances. The woman who owns his doesn't really discipline him- she lets him eat whenever, stop, etc so he has some bad habits which we're working on. He really needs his feet done and I think he might need his teeth floated.... he's really oral anyway, will pick up and chew on ANYTHING (never bites, just wants to feel everything with his mouth) but I'm having his teeth looked at just in case. He's 8 years old, but so out of shape it's hard to get him to trot for much distance so we're building that up too. He was really kind of difficult the first day on the cross ties and with lifting up his feet but he's now a doll on the cross ties and lets me lift/touch whatever, whenever. He's such a sweet boy!

Also, this is kind of random but he's realllly gassy. Like if we're together for an hour and a half, he passes gas 7 times, give or take. The only thing I could find when I tried to look it up was gassy colic but he shows no signs of discomfort in any other way, maybe he just needs more fiber in his diet? He doesn't currently get grain. Thanks everyone for your help!
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