There are seven major sire lines found in the Haflinger breed, which are identified by the first letter of their founder's name. It is customary for male Haflingers to be given a name that starts with the same letter as their sire, therefore making it easy to identify the sire line of a given stallion. The lines are A, B, M, N, S, St, and W. According to stud book studies in 1988, of the 1,300 Haflinger stallions worldwide the pecentrages of each line are as follows:
|Anselmo (A)||304 stallions||23%|
|Bolzano (B)||38 stallions||3%|
|Massimo (M)||236 stallions||18%|
|Nibbio (N)||313 stallions||23%|
|Stelvio (S)||37 stallions||3%|
|Student (St)||297 stallions||22%|
|Willi (W)||114 stallions||8%|
The A-line was founded by the stallion Anselmo, who was by Campi II x Napoli by Campi, making him the closest descendent of Folie of all the patriarchs. His line is second only to the N-line in numbers of breeding stallions, and is strongly represented in all countries with Haflinger breeding programs. Many consider this line to be the source of the highest quality breeding animals.
Anselmo himself was considered somewhat coarse, with long ears (a serious fault to Austrian breeders). Nonetheless, four of his sons proved to be sucessful sires: Atlas, Alex, Attila and Adler. Of these, the line is continued through Artist, a grandson of Adler. Artist, when bred to the mare Jeruse (also by Adler) produced Afghan (1969) - the greatest of modern Haflinger sires. Sadly, Afghan died at the young age of ten of a broken leg.
The B-line was founded by Botzano (1915). By 1965, the line was in serious danger of being lost to the breed, and an attempt was made to salvage using Bozen, one of the few B-line sires left. His grandson, Becket (out of a mare by Anselmo), would sire Brutus in 1976. Brutus was considered the first quality stallion bred from that line since its decline. However, when his most promising son Benjo (1980) died after three short breeding seasons, the line was again threathened. Currently attempts are being made to save it using the stallions Bach and Berthol (both sire by a half-brother to Becket).
The M-line was founded with the stallion Massimo (1927). He sired six sons through which most M-line stallions descend. Of these, Nilo was probably the one most responsible for the continued influence of the line. ALthough Nilo himself was not an attractive horse, he consistently sired foals far superior to himself. Nilo's sons were responsible for adding fineness and nobility, as well as broadening the genetic base of the breed. Most M-line stallions trace back to Nilo through his son Sturmer (who also heavily influenced the A-line through his daughters), with the remainder tracing through the stallions Mordskerl and Meteor.
Some have stated that the M-line was in danger of stagnating. The largest number of M-line horses (most decending through Sturmer) reside in the United States, which does not practice the strict selection process common in Germany and other European countries. Dire predictions have been made concerning the future of this branch if proper selection is not practiced.
Of the remaining two branches, that of Meteor is mostly continued in Italy, and is considered to be of slightly higher quality. But it is the Mordeskeri line that show the most promise through his great-great grandson Midas (1977). Midas caused quite a sensation at the Second International Haflinger Breeders' Show in 1985, where 20 of his daughters and 12 of his sons were displayed.
[Note: Because many M-line stallions were bred in Italy, where stallion of a given year are all named by the same letter, not all have names that begin with M.]
The founder of the N-line was a stallion named Nibbio (1920). By the 1940s, the line had split into two branches - that of Naz in Germany and Austria, and Nautilus in Italy. The Naz line was primarily continued through two full brothers, Nastor (1951) and Nerz (1953). Another Naz son, Naxo (1952) would be responsible for introducing the N-line to the United States. Meanwhile, in Italy the Nautilus line would continue primarily through three sons: Genius, Hofrat and Hafling. (Remember that in Italy stallions are named according to the letter designated for the year they were foaled, instead of by the first letter of their sire's name.)
The N-line is currently the most prolific of all the Haflinger lines, represented by over 300 stallions worldwide. Of those stallions, 250 are found in either Germany or Italy.
The S-line, begun in 1923 with the stallion Stelvio, has long been considered the weakest of the seven sire lines. It is thought that to bring the line up to an equal level of quality with the other sire lines at this point would require a great deal of time and expense. Those stallions remaining of the S-line are located primarily in Italy and descend through the stallion Santner and his son Sandhofer. In the 1960s, an attempt was made to build up this line in Austria with the purchase of the stallion Saturn (1964). His grandson Silbersee (1972) was considered quite promising, but was sold in 1987 to France where he was used to outcross on non-Haflinger stock. As of 1988, there were no known S-line stallions in the United States.
The St-line was founded by the highly regarded stallion Student (1927). Student was considered extremely typey and a prepotent sire. His line is close to the Anselmo and Nibbio lines in terms of number and influence.
Most of the St-line stallions descend through the Studen son Stromer. Stromer was Austrian-born, but was eventually sold to Italy and there his line was allowed to die out. Stromer's grandsons Starost and Sturm have continued the line in Switzerland, while Star is responsible for most of the St-line stallions in the United States. In fact, the United States currently has the most St-line stallions of any country, with one of the large American farms (Temple Farms - no dispersed) specializing in this line. Sons of Star that influenced American breeding programs include Easter Sunday and his sons Stardraft (1975) and Strahan (1974), Starwonder and his sons Stogey (1973) and State (1975) and also his grandson Stanley (by Spirit of 76).
In Austria, the line continued through Stromer granson Sturmer. ALthough Sturmer died relatively young at eight years of age, three of his sons were kept as breeding stallions. ANother line descends from Strom (1949 - a son of Stromer).
THe final Haflinger sire line was establihsed by the stallion Willi (1921). Unfortunately, Willi produced far more daughters than sons - 23 versus 196. Of his sons, four were kept for breeding. Of these four, one died after only two breeding seasons, while a second was placed in a breeding region with low quality mares and a third - Willi I - was exported to Syria. his line was continued briefly by Wilfried through his son Wieland. Although Wieland was considered an exceptionally beautiful stallion, his dam was unpedigreed and this caused many breeders to avoid him.
Willi's fourth son was Wardein, and he had the exception maternal pedigree that Wieland lacked. Although his breeding career got off to a late start (in 1958, when he was already 20 years old!), he bacome known for producing energetic animals with extremely correct movement.
Wardein's sons and grandsons would spread the line to other countries. His son Winchester (1957) went to Germany, where he produced several promisng sons. Austria kept sons Wilton and Wirbel. Wilton would bring the line to Italy through his grandson Sigfrido di Falterona, as well as having a great deal of positive influence on the line in Austria. His descendent Wagrein (1980) is considered an excellent example of this sire line.
Another strain tracing back to Willi is that of his grandson Welkom. Welkom is a popular breeding stallion in the Netherlands, although he is considered too coarse by many Austrian breeders. Many of the W-line stallions in the United Staes and Canada trace to Welkom thorugh his son Wandor (1973). More recently, an American breeder imported a son of Winterstein, a popular Austrian stallion tjat traces back to Willi through the Wardein branch.
It should also be said that there are a few non-strain stallions in the Haflinger breed that do not trace directly back to line of the aforementioned lines. Because so many of the countries breeding Haflingers employ some type of inspection process, it is possible for these stallion to be recognized if they exhibit proper breed type and quality. However, the vast majority of accepted stallions are from one of the seven sire lines.
A Word About Haflinger Color
Many hobbyists believe that Haflingers come in palomino, or in palomino and chestnut. The truth is that all Haflingers are genetically chestnut, although admittedly many are an extremely light shade of chestnut and many have white (or nearly white) manes and tails. Nonetheless, they all lack the "yellow" tones that are typical of palomino horses.
One fact that does prove beyond a shadow of a doubt that Haflingers are not actually palomino is the fact that they do not produce blue-eyed creams. Because palomino is what geneticists term an "incomplete dominant", horses that inherit one palomino gene look different from those that inherit two genes. Horses carrying one palomino look palomino, while those carrying two are creamy-white and always blue-eyed. These blue-eyed creams, or cremellos, are often called double-dilutes because of the two dilute (palomino) genes they carry. They produce 100% palominos when bred to chestnut horses, because their foals will always inherit one of their two palomino genes.
However, palominos themselves cannot produce palominos 100% of the time. When bred together, palomino to palomino (which would be the case if Haflingers were indeed palomino and not chestnut), they will produce chestnuts, palominos and cremellos. One half of the foals will end up with one gene for palomino, while one quarter will get the gene from both parents and be cremello and the final quarter won't get the gene from either parent and will be chestnut. But the fact is that there is no ercord of a blue-eyed cream Haflinger ever being born (whereas Connemara, where the palomino gene makes buckskins quite common, do have fairly high incidences of blue-eyed creams, even though they are disliked and in some countries not registered). Even if only some of the Haflingers were palomino and others were chestnut, it would be expected that a certain number of cremeloos would appear, which is not the case.
Because of this, it is safe to assume that all Haflingers are chestnuts with flaxen manes and tails, and not truly palominos. Unlike palominos, flaxen-maned chestnut do breed true, so that crossing chestnut to chestnuts will produce more foals the same color as the parents.
(This same logic can be applied to those that claim to have "palomino" Arabians or Thoroughbreds - both breeds were the gene is not thought to exist. Even if a palomino registry accepts such horses as palomino, the only way to prove such horses really are palomino is for them to produce a blue-eyed cream when they are bred to another palomino. Unless this can be done, the horse is just a chestnut with a flax mane and tail.)