Gipsy gold does not chink and glitter. It gleams in the sun and neighs in the dark. Attributed to the Claddaugh Gypsies of Galway.
When I went searching for the perfect horse breed for my fantasy novel, Shadows in the Stone, there were several characteristics I desired.
2) She had to be sturdy, versatile, able to trek rough terrain, including mountain trails, and have stamina to travel through all sorts of weather for weeks on end.
3) She had to be big enough to carry two individuals around 150 pounds each. Yet, she couldn’t be gigantic because in book two of the series, Scattered Stones, she careens through a dungeon maze.
4) She had to be intelligent and a quick learner.
6) Her breed had to be ancient and reach back into the centuries, so it would fit into a fantasy world. This automatically eliminated breeds such as Morgan which was developed in the United States around 1795.
After much searching, I found the perfect mare: a Haflinger pony. The native of Austria is a mountain breed with sure feet. She’s strong and versatile, able to carry a load, work on a farm and haul a wagon. She measures between 13hh and 14.2hh high but taller horses can also be found. For my novel, a pony of about 14hh is perfect.
Haflinger ponies are incredibly beautiful. The hair colour is red chestnut and they have a flowing flaxen mane and tail. Many ponies have a white star, blaze or stripe on their nose. Their large eyes are dark and lively. Their legs are short indicating they are steady on their feet, making them great for the tight spaces on the mountain trails my characters travel.
This breed is quick to learn and easy to handle in general. This is important since a twelve-year-old hauflin child will occasionally ride her.
The name chosen for this flaxen beauty is Clover. She’s a unique character with a mysterious past. She’ll surprise her riders several times during her journey to find home.