I bought a team of Haflingers. They arrived at my ranch in Chiloquin, Oregon, from the breeders farm In Michigan, on July 5, 2010. They were the team from Hades.
I couldn't catch them unless I put feed in their stall and closed the door. They were nervous about being touched during grooming. They were afraid of spray cans and everything else around here. You couldn't turn a hose on them. When painting hooflex on their hooves they shook like little leaves. They jumped and cringed when I put the harnesses on them.
The trainer I was using told me to separate them. Put one in the stall and work and bond with the other. This I did for about two weeks. Separating them for a couple of hours a day and then putting them back together. They began to bond to a very small degree.
They were represented to have been started with older more seasoned horses, then started as a team by the age of 3 and 4. I got them as 5 and 6 year olds.
The trainer hooked them to a tire. They were frightned out of their wits. He hooked them to a stone boat. They were frightened out of their wits. So, he said ground drive them and work with them until April of 2011, I'll take them for six weeks and by then they should be all you ever hoped for.
I eventually lost all faith in the trainer and sent them out to a Natural Horsemanship Trainer to learn to be ridden. I felt we would bond better riding than driving. The trainer had them for 5 weeks. They came back, just as nervous, just as beligerant as they were when they left. Although the trainer had absolutely no problems with them. They were ridden 2 1/2 hours a day for 6 days for 5 weeks.
When they came home the trainer and I went for a ride. We were using snaffle bits. When I ground drive them I use a Liverpool in the most severe setting. The one I was riding decided he didn't want to go up the hill and peeled off to the left down a very steep embankment and pulled the reins right out of my hands. I recovered the reins, turned him back onto the road and proceed to trot up the hill. He decided that was not what he wanted to do and peeled off to the right up a very steep embankment. I pulled him back to the road and finished going up the hill. The trainer said her mount had an attitude but otherwise followed instructions. My mount was nervous, shying at butterflies and anything that touched his body.
Well, folks, what is your opinion. Should I continue to work with them, sell them, take them to the slaughter house, eat them, give them away, or just run screaming into the night. I've got nearly $6,000 in them. Their new harness can be worn by another team. But no matter what I do will I get my investment back in this economy? Only God knows.
After reading every thread on Haflinger's I'm beginning to wonder if they haven't been testing me for over a year. I've owned many horses in my life. I've ridden nervous, high strung Tennessee Walkers but these guys take the cake. I am 75 but I still ride a Tennessee Walker, Quarter Horse, Standardbred and maybe Haflingers. I've taught 4 horses to drive and have been driving since 2004. I haven't had much experience with teams and no one here seems capable of putting them to the cart.