A visit to see the four-legged "blondes"
Excursion to the Haflinger breeders in Ebbs
You can hear the neighing and snorting of the horses from a long way off. I find myself at the entrance of the Ebbs stud farm. This is where the "Tyrolean cultural treasures", Haflinger horses, are at home. There is plenty to experience, even if you're not a horse-lover, such as young horses and the famous breeding stallions.
A stud farm that's writing history
The grounds are huge; horses graze in the paddocks and workers are busy in the stalls. I meet Anita Baumgartner, who gives me an overview and explains the history of the stud farm: "The stud farm is the association stud farm of the Haflinger Breeder's Association Tyrol, and was founded in 1947. The grounds have developed and expanded from one year to the next. These days, the Haflinger centre is world famous. The best Haflinger mares and stallions live there, are trained, bred and exercised."
The character of the horses
As I walk around the boxes and stalls, where over 100 horses live, I ask what's so special about the four-legged blondes. "They're known as the golden horses with a heart of gold. Haflingers have a strong character, are good-natured, strong, very versatile and hardy. You can use them for riding, carriage pulling, equestrian vaulting or as work animals pulling and carrying", explains Anita Baumgartner.
As I walk into the boxes, the smell of horse reaches my nose, and a couple of the horses raise their heads curiously. "Eleven staff and four apprentices look after the horses and everything they need every day", Anita tells me.
Fascinating spectacle in front of the Zahmer Kaiser
I leave the stalls and follow Anita Baumgartner, who shows me the huge pastures. They are well worth seeing. While some Haflingers quietly graze, others gallop around full of energy, jumping into the air. And it's not just the view of the horses, the panorama is spectacular too: Behind the green grass of the paddock, the peaks of the Zahmer Kaiser rise up into the sky. "The horses have a total of four hectares to run wild and enjoy nature", says Anita Baumgartner as she guides me toward the museum.
Time travel with historical details
As soon as you enter the museum, you're whisked away to the past. Huge carriages and sledges, many of which are over 100 years old, and some which can still be used, decorate the room. One area is dedicated to agricultural machinery. Support saddles, ploughs, harrows and carts remind us of a time when horses still played a very important role for farmers. The walls are decorated with certificates, breeding prizes, old pictures, and documents from international exhibitions and shows. Prizes and trophies give the museum a unique flair. Anita Baumgartner guides me to what is probably the most famous exhibit: "These are original 200-year old saddles from the film 'Das letzte Tal', which was filmed in Tyrol. They are the most photographed item in the museum", she reveals.
Summer on the alm
In summer, the best stallions in the world spend a lot of time on the alms, to make sure that they naturally retain their character traits. An excursion into the Tyrolean Mountains, at over 1,200 meters, increases their surefootedness, endurance, strength and resilience. The natural meadow and its diverse herbs hasn't been fertilised for 60 years, and it is the perfect feeding ground for the top-class stallions. Up there the weather changes can range from 30 degrees during the day to frost at night. This encourages the horses' natural hardiness.
Clear the stage for the Haflinger horses
Even if you don't want to get in the saddle yourself – there are two modern riding arenas and an outdoor arena available – you shouldn't miss one of the Haflinger shows that take place every Friday evening. From 8 pm the stud farm arena, with 3,500 seats, becomes the showground for a spectacular performance. The varied programme of dressage, jumping quadrille, equestrian vaulting, driving school and children jumping fills the seats in the arena every Friday. An unforgettable experience, not only for horse-lovers.