The Evolution of the Hafl

Our latest guest blog from Nadja from made me think. She wrote about a horse being ready for specific movements (i.e. collection) and I started wondering whether Hafl changed over the years. And indeed he does! 

When I got him, he was 2.5 years old and he was not shy or timid but he was rather uninterested in his surroundings. Not much seemed to bother him, hierarchically he was rather low. Most of the time, bigger ones were bullying him. That was until we moved from Vienna back to Carinthia. Don’t get me wrong, he was a nice and good horse but not more than that. In April 2010, we had our first riding experience which went ok. In May the same year, we had the accident were I ruptured all my ligaments in my right knee.

The first pic of Hafl

That was the turning point also in his development of mind. I needed to get him out in a stallion field as I was walking around in crutches and I was about to sell him – it was simply too dangerous to keep a horse that I could not a 100% rely on. There were some weeks were I did not see him. The field was just a few minutes drive away but I did not feel like seeing him. After a few weeks gone by, I was ready to start visiting him, thinking to myself of giving him another chance. As if he was feeling it, he changed completely. He came when I called him, he took care of me and my crutches when I was feeding him treats and after several months out there, I was ready to take him back in and get him castrated. That was in September. So he returned to the stable and I saw him every day again. And there was a huge bond growing between us. It seemed as if he had grown up in these few months. I never ever felt insecure when I was with him.
First ride

When I got back on him the first time in April 2011, there was not the slightest reason for fear. He was such a good boy, carrying me though I was scared to death and making so many mistakes. We even managed to ride in a young horses test in September this year and were placed 3rd (3rd best 4-yr old Haflinger in Carinthia!) and made it to the national young Haflinger horses championship. Having him travelling for 4 hours alone in the trailer, riding in a complete new surrounding showed me how much he had grown up. He was simply bomb proof!

Visiting Hafl on his stallion field

Over the last few years, I was always sure that he would not do any stupid things at shows, at home or on the hacks. He was really growing in a reliable horse that would do anything for me. What’s more, he became not only physically but also mentally stronger. Right now, he is quite high in the hierarchy, not being bullied that much anymore. He turned out to be a clown, loving to make fun out of people and make them laugh when showing all his tricks (he is doing it for the treats though but they mostly do not realize ;) ). I sometimes even have the feeling that he can really understand me as he is sometimes acting as if.

On top of that, we assimilated! For example, he starts bullying horses of people I do not like. He loves horses of my barn friends. He even seems to be a lot like me, not having too many friends, liking to be a bit away from the others, being on his own very often.

From a training standpoint of view, he is an eager beaver as I am. He is not refusing to work, indeed, he loves it. Being challenged is his favorite thing. And especially in the last few months I saw him actually being also mentally able to stand things like collection. Of course, we were struggling before due to lack of physical strength but still, he was also not able to cope with it mentally. Now it seems that he is ready for it and with some added strength he is also able to carry it literally. That is such a huge step for us and I am so happy to being part of this journey and seeing such a great personality grow.

Sometimes people cannot understand us equestrians as they claim it is only a horse. But for us, working with them daily and seeing magic happen over the years this is not just a horse. That is a true friendship evolving! And work in progress!

August 2011 vs. June 2012

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