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Welcome to Shady Grove Haflingers

Our mare, Roxie

The Ellingson Family
Poplar Grove, Illinois

Presenting Our Newest Stallion:

Click here for more about Nostalgic

Breeding the Highest Quality Haflingers
We always have Haflingers for Sale

See the sons and daughters of our proven stallion, Walzing River TOF

Click on the slide show above or click here to see River's offspring.

See video of Classic Beauty SGH competing for her first hunter show. She took Grand Champion in the Low Hunter Division.

Why We Love Haflingers

If you’re interested in buying a Haflinger you also probably want to know what Haflinger owners love about their horses.This list is what hooked us on the breed. Here’s a few of the top things for which Haflingers are known. Generally, Haflingers are known for their calm personalities. Not every Haflinger has a wonderful disposition, but the majority of them are fabulous. They are very intelligent. They love people. They are beautiful, with a snowy white mane and tail flowing over a copper colored body. They range in height from about 13.0 HH to about 15.2 HH. The majority run from 14 HH to 14.2HH. This makes them a nice size to drive. They are also a good size for kids to ride and adults are very comfortable on them. Most are very strong and have no trouble carrying large adults. They generally have good feet and in most cases don’t need shoes. They also are known as “easy keepers” meaning that they are extremely efficient with their feed. They are amazingly athletic and often shock people with their jumping ability. There are two major categories of Haflinger breeders in the United States. Those that breed the heavily muscled “draft” type, and those that breed the more refined “pleasure” type which focus more on riding. These types are an example of the breed’s great versatility. It also means the first Haflinger you see, may not be the type that’s right for you. Please check out all the pictures on our website and let us know if you’d like to see more Haflingers.

Summary of Haflinger Breed and It's History

The Haflinger is truly a remarkable horse, but to really understand this breed, you need to know a little bit about where it comes from. Here is my brief synopsis of the breed to get you started. The Haflinger is a versatile, low maintenance horse which comes from Austria. It was a farm horse raised by the small farm families in the Tyrolean mountain region. This was a good setting to create a great horse, with the mountains helping to select for the hardiest and most efficient individuals and the farm families selecting the most versatile and gentle individuals. But the most significant reason for the success of the Haflinger breed is the Austrian establishment of the breeding cooperative. The Austrians took a very, very disciplined approach to horse breeding. The coop was responsible for evaluating the horses and determining which ones were appropriate for breeding stock. Horses which were not approved could not be used for breeding. This very selective process led to rapid and significant improvement of the breed over the last century.

The breed was used heavily as a military horse during WWII. The Haflinger gained many fans during the war era as this mighty little horse demonstrated its loving personality, great work ethic, its hearty resilience, and athletic ability. But the breed was also set back during this time, as the huge demand for horses destroyed the selective breeding programs, and militaries bred the horses to be smaller, as they were primarily used as pack animals. Quality and size suffered.

At the end of the war, the breeding coop realized they had a lot of work to do. They realized that this little horse breed was not going to survive as a plow horse. They knew that they would have to add more stature to the horse to make it more versatile as a riding horse. The breeders had a clear vision of where this breed needed to go. They wanted to maintain the good nature, the loving personality, the efficiency of feed, the heartiness, and the sure-footedness. They wanted to improve on the stature and the elegance.

Otto Schweisgut, the cooperative’s breeding director was also a tremendous salesman. He was a talented promoter who believed with all his heart in the horse he was promoting. In the 1960’s, he took his horse to the world. And the world loved the Haflinger. Many other countries then began to breed their own Haflingers.

In the United States, there are many excellent Haflinger breeders. We have plenty of great American Haflingers. We do not have the controls regulating the breeding that are found in Austria. But our top tier of breeders do a nice job of regulating themselves, meaning they choose high quality mares and breed them to the finest studs. Unfortunately, we also have poorer quality Haflingers in the US. As more people learned of this great horse in the 1990’s, the popularity soared. Prices went higher, and we had an economic condition somewhat similar to that of WWII. The great demand caused people to use lower quality mares, and sometimes low quality studs. One of the challenges we face today is getting the public to see our best Haflingers. People I meet are almost universally “blown away” by the Haflinger breed. They usually say things like, “They’re gorgeous. They’re incredible. Why would anyone get another horse?” Unfortunately, some people run into the clunky old “plow horse” first. They believe they already know all about Haflingers and they are not impressed. We need to get these people to come back and take another look. They should visit a top breeding program. They can start with this website. See our action photos.

Check out the video slide show below. These are some of our favorite photos from shows in 2013.

Winter is a great time to visit us! Check out our favorite Winter Scenes below.

Our Beliefs

Our first goal is to breed the highest quality Haflinger we can. We have some tremendous foundation mares from some of the top Haflinger families in the world. Our Stallion also descends from two of the top Haflingers families in the world. We breed for temperment first. If our horses turn out beautiful, that's a bonus. We love Haflinger babies and we love training them. We also try to keep a couple "kid safe" riding horses around at all times. These horses are not necessarily part of our breeding program. They may just be for our family's enjoyment. We always try to keep a variety of good horses for sale. We don't really like to part with any of our horses, but we love to make new friends who are new Haflinger owners. If you read some of the letters we receive from new owners after they take our horses home, you'll understand why we get so much satisfactiion from placing a horse in a new, loving family.

Our entire philosophy is based on family. We bought our Haflingers for the enjoyment of our family. We consider the Haflinger to be the perfect family horse. The Haflinger breed was bred to be a family horse in the mountains of Austria. Our horses are sold to families who enjoy them as much as we do. Our breeding philosphy is based on breeding individual Haflingers from the strongest, most consistant Haflinger familes in the world. Call us or come to meet our family and our horses. We'd love to meet your family.

Very consistantly, we sell about 7 Haflingers per year. About half sell to buyers within 150 miles. The rest go all over the United States. Most people come to visit the horses and meet them in person. Some decide to work over the phone and look at lots of video to make their decision. While we recommend a visit to our farm if possible, we take great pride that quite a few buyers trust us enough to make the purchase without a visit.

When we purchase a horse to train, or raise a horse horse to sell, our "target" customer is the new grandparent, looking for a trustworthy horse to share as a family activity. Of course, we also work with a lot of parents and people that just want a good horse for themselves. Our most common customer is about 60 and is a grandparent that has been referred to the Haflinger breed. Ideally, all of our horses will ride and drive, but they are all in different stages of training, so ask for specifics when you call or email.

Directory of Information Available on this Website with Links
Advice for Purchasing a Haflinger This is checklist of items you will want to review before purchasing a Haflinger. Included are tips for buying your horse. Basic Haflinger information is given that will help you choose the right height, sex (mare, gelding, or stallion?), pleasure style haflinger or draft style haflinger? choosing the appropriate horse for the type of discipline you are interested in (eventing, jumping, driving, riding, pulling), how much training do you need? imported Haflinger or domestic Haflinger? tips for evaluating a pedigree, how much pedigree do you need? evaluating type and conformation, Haflinger prices and knowing the market (how much should you pay?)

I want to explain why we included these tips on our website. A few years back, Bill decided he wanted to buy a pony for his new grandchildren. He had grown up with ponies and thought his grandchildren should have the same opportunity. He started researching the internet to find just the right pony. He quickly found legions of proud Haflinger owners swearing by their "horses" (Haflinger owners always call them horses, although some resources classify them as ponies.) It made perfect sense. Ponies often get sassy and develop bad habits. If he had a "pony" big and strong enough for an adult to ride, the whole family would have more fun. Bill searched the internet to find a local Haflinger breeder so he could see these beautiful horses in person. He found Tudor Oaks Farm. They agreed to show him a Haflinger, and that Haflinger was named Aristocrat TOF. Case closed. If you've ever witnessed Aristocrat, you'll understand. Bill raced back home and got back on the internet to find himself an Aristocrat daughter. He bought Cassie, the first one he found, and he only had to drive 1100 miles round trip to get her. We got very lucky, as we probably couldn't have found a better horse for our needs. But, we quickly realized we had a lot of questions about the breed that were difficult to answer (how does height affect value? what's better pleasure style or draft? what's better a star or a blaze? are imported Haflingers really better than domestic? and why?) We wanted to create an internet site where we could start to answer some of these questions for those new to the breed. If you don't find the answer to your question, please call us. We love to help, and if we don't know the answer, we know a lot of really smart Haflinger owners.

Photography Tips Some tips for getting great photographs of your horses. Whether you have Haflingers or another breed, we share our best tips for capturing great photos. We discuss poses, action images, settings, lighting, head portraits, etc.

Information on Washing Your Horse We share some ideas on washing your horse, particularly on getting that tail really white.

Information on Harness and Harness Care We share some information from a 100 year old reference manual on harness selection, harness care, proper fitting, etc. Not all of the information is still valid today, but the text is still facinating. This was the best advice from university scholars for people who were working their horses daily. In many ways, they knew more about horses than we ever will.

Information on Pleasure Vehicles We share some information from a 100 year old reference manual on pleasure vehicles, the history of pleasure vehicles, chosing a well made vehicle, and proper vehicle maintenence. Not all of the information is still valid today, but the text is still facinating. This was the best advice from university scholars who studied horses and horse-drawn vehicles in a day when this was a way of life. In many ways, they knew more about horses than we ever will. Learn about buggies, surreys, phaetons, shays, rockaways, runabouts and much more.

Information about Driving Horses and Ponies We've included some basic information for anyone considering their first driving horse. We have advice about purchasing harness and your first vehicle. Information on driving horses for sale and driving ponies for sale.

Haflingers are a Family Activity

Driving a Hitch Wagon

General Facts

How much does it cost to own a Haflinger? At our farm, we use a rough estimate of $1000 per year per horse. But there are many variables, so let’s break that number down a little further. Maybe this will help you to figure out what your costs might be if you're considering getting a Haflinger. The biggest cost is hay. In our area of the country, hay averages $1 for 10 pounds. That’s $5 for a 50 pound bale or $80 for an 800 pound bale. That number is for non-drought years. But, it can be cheaper in good years too. Experts say a horse needs 1 to 2% of their body weight in hay daily. The average Haflinger weighs 900 to 1000 pounds. So figure 15 to 20 pounds of hay daily to be safe. That is about $1.50 to $2.00 daily in hay. We have quite a bit of pasture grass at our farm, so we feed much less hay from May to October. But if you’re counting on pasture to knock down your hay costs down significantly, you’re going to need about an acre per horse or more. You’ll also have to fence your pasture into small lots so you can rotate your horses on the grass, allowing it time to heal and grow back. Also try to keep them off the grass in really muddy weather. You may also want to figure about $30 per acre in reseeding costs annually to keep the pastures in nice condition. Let’s move on to grain. Our Haflingers don’t get much grain. They rotate through on a training schedule and rarely do hard work daily. So the mature horses usually get almost no grain. The growing horses will get a little grain, especially if the pastures are lacking or the quality of the hay is not really good. The stallion gets quite a bit of grain as he burns a lot of energy running all over thinking about the ladies. The milking mares use the most energy and will need heavy grain. But, our foals grow so fast that we’re often weaning in about 3 months or so. Then, the mares can go back to pasture. Our young horses get about 2-3 pounds of grain daily. The grain costs about $12 for a 50 pound bag. So the grain is $0.24 per pound. At 2-3 pounds daily, that is 48 to 72 cents. So while a young horse could be eating 72 cents of grain daily, their total body weight might be half of a full grown horse, so they might only be eating half the hay. We’re still probably under $2 in daily feed bills.

Let’s summarize. With some grass to supplement the hay, I can easily feed my average horse for $550 per year. I probably need to budget about $150 per horse in vet bills (which can vary depending on my luck with healthy horses) and roughly $200 annually for the farrier (this can vary by location also). These three items total $900 or $75 per month. I used conservative numbers- I can usually find hay and grain a little cheaper than my estimates. And I can do a little of my own farrier and vet work (simple trims and giving shots and some vaccinations) But I will always have some unexpected bills, so the $1000 annually per horse estimate works pretty well for me.

Are Haflingers Horses or Ponies? Good question. We call them horses. The American Haflinger Association calls them horses. For many shows, they are classified as ponies. One common definition of a pony is an equine 58 inches or shorter. That includes a majority of Haflingers. My dad discovered the Haflinger breed during his search for the "perfect pony for his grandchildren." So we don't really don't care if you call them ponies or horses, but most serious Haflinger breeders prefer the term "horse."

A quick note on spelling for those very new to the breed: The correct spelling is Haflinger, not Halflinger or Halfinger. I assume many people believe it is a Halflinger because it is about Half the weight of a Belgian, with similar coloring. This probably contributes to the notion that this breed is a draft pony. As you learn more you will see that this breed can show a versatility and elegance far beyond a simple "draft pony." The breed can deliver drafty, but it can deliver elegance as well. For a quick example, look at the photo of Amadeus . So remember, its Haflinger, not Halflinger or Halfinger. The Haflinger is named for the village of Hafling, a town near the mountains of Austria and Italy.

What is a spotted Haflinger? There seems to be a lot of confusion about "spotted Haflingers." So I will explain what I know. True purebred Haflingers are never spotted. Horses claiming to be spotted Haflingers are crossbreds. They have crossed Haflingers to create a spotted horse. A few breeders are breeding their Haflinger mares to spotted stallions in search of the next big trend. Personally, I've never worked with a "spotted Haflinger." So I cannot comment on their personalities directly. I will say that years ago I was told by a very experienced Haflinger breeder, that the Haflinger breed does not cross well. His contention was that the great Haflinger personality doesn't come through well when the horse is crossed with other breeds. My father and I have been pondering on this statement for many years and I must admit that my experience supports the idea. I have now seen quite a few Haflinger crosses. I haven't seen any that have the personality of a Haflinger. If you are considering a "spotted Haflinger," I would recommend a careful evaluation of the personality, especially if that is a high priority for you. At Shady Grove, we don't have any desire to breed this style of horse. But, we will try to keep an eye on the trend. If they've come up with a good horse, we want to give them a fair shake. - Some call this cross the "NASH Horse." NASH stands for North American spotted Haflinger.

See Haflingers for Sale as well as foal contracts available for our top mares.

Haflinger Cart for Sale We have an extra Haflinger Cart for sale. Brand New -$1850. Oak show cart, or just use it to tool around on the back roads with your family. It's a lot of fun.

Walzing River TOF is our stud. His sire, Walzertakt stood in the United States for three breeding seasons before returning to Austria to stand at the Fohlenhof, home of the world's greatest Haflinger sires. His offspring are very well respected in this country. Walzing River's dam is three time national champion, Rivella TOF. She is the top mare at Tudor Oaks farms. We think you'll really like this Haflinger Stallion.

Cassie MPA is our mare. She is the daughter of two National Champions. Her sire is Aristocrat TOF from Tudor Oaks Farm (Inspected and Classified in 2000, 81.3 points, “Gold” rating, Arguably the most prolific stallion in North American Haflinger history. Descended from the strongest and most outstanding mare line in Europe: Rikka (granddam), Rialta (dam), and Rimalda (full sister), National Grand Champion Stallion 1994, Cassie's dam is Cynthia NTF (World Haflinger Association Breeders Award, National Champion Mare 1988.) You can find out information about contracting a future foal out of Cassie. Cassie has produced three tremendous fillies.

See More Great Photos of Cassie's Offspring

Genna, having fun driving!

Learn how to purchase a foal contract from Shady Grove Haflingers. Our foal contracts offer an inexpensive way to buy into one of the top Haflinger families in the World. One of our babies may be the perfect horse for you.

This is Family Fun

Austrian Horses are proud to be American too!
Albert and Joe in the 4th of July Parade

About Us Shady Grove Haflingers is operated by the Ellingson family. The Horses are kept at the home of John Ellingson, his wife Toni, and his children Genna, Ella, and Liam. Shady Grove Haflingers is also run by John's parent's Bill and Wendy Ellingson.

Our location is 75 minutes west of Chicago, Illinois. We are one hour south of Madison, Wisconsin and about 75 minutes west of Milwaukee, Wisconsin. We are two hours east of Dubuque, Iowa. We are 5 hours south of Minneapolis, Minnesota. We are 4.5 hours from Indianapolis, Indiana. We are 4.5 hours north of St. Louis, Missouri. We are about 5.5 hours west of Detroit, Michigan.

We are located on the Illinois - Wisconsin border. We are proud to be members of both the Haflinger Owners of Wisconsin and the Illinois Haflinger Association. HOW

Please don't hesitate to call us based on location. We've sold horses across the United States. Here are some of the states where we have either sold Haflingers or assisted people in their Haflinger search- Arizona, California, Colorado, Connecticut, Florida, Georgia, Hawaii, Idaho, Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Kansas, Kentucky, Massachusetts, Michigan, Minnesota, Missouri, Montana, New Mexico, New York, North Carolina, Ohio, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Tennesee, Texas, Vermont, Virginia, Wisconsin, Wyoming.

Very Important Note on Horse Safety- While anyone who knows Haflingers will tell you that this breed is renowned for its calm, even temperament, any horse needs to be handled carefully and safely. Horses are large and potentially dangerous animals. Be careful, use your head, and learn about horse safety. We don't want anyone to get hurt.

Thanks for visiting our website!