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Lipizzaner Stallions

Baroque Horses And Their Austrian Heritage

©Spanische Hofreitschule/Herbert Graf
© Spanische Hofreitschule

Where do Lipizzaner stallions come from, how are they bred and trained, and where can you see them in Austria? Whether you want to watch these baroque horses, buy them or simply know more about them, exploit this short guide below.

Origins

The Lipizzan breed is the result of a crossing between old Spanish (Andalusian), Arabian and Berber breeds with local Slovenian Karst breeds. The name Lipizzaner comes from the original stud in Lipica, Slovenia, where the Habsburg Monarchs bred them. It was first mentioned in 1786.

The Lipizzans are fantastic dressage horses: They are strong yet graceful and have been used for military purposes, shows and parades since the 16th century.

Breeding

Lipizzaner stallions at the Spanish Riding School ViennaThe Lipizzaner stallions are bred across Europe, mostly in Austria and the old crownlands of the Habsburg Empire, Bosnia, Croatia, Hungary, Italy, Romania Serbia, Slovenia, and Slovakia. There are major private breeding studs in Denmark, France, Serbia, Slovenia, South Africa and the United States (Illinois).

There are six main breeding lines of Lipizzaner stallions, which carry their nams from their male progenitors: Conversano, Favore, Maestoso, Neapolitano, Pluto, Siglavy. The name of each horse is made up by the name of its father and its mother.

The Lipizzaner stallions for the Spanish Riding School are bred at the Austrian Federal Stud in Piber in the Southern Austrian region of Western Styria. Every year, around 30 Lipizzan foals are born. The young Lipizzans spend their summers on the lush green pastures of Stubalm in the Styrian mountains. As they move around the partly steep and rocky slopes they train their joints and tendons. This is vital for their later career.

Lipizzaner stallions of the Spanish Riding School Vienna, in their stablesThey usually arrive at the Spanish Riding School Vienna for training at the age of three and a half years. They are still dark coloured at that age, turning white when they are between four and nine years old. A Lipizzan can reach until about 40 years of age. The Federal Stud Piber has been making a real effort in the past years to breed more Lipizzans in order to secure sufficient supply to the Spanish Riding School. The Lipizzans are today considered an endangered domestic animal breed.

Training

Lipizzans are strong, docile and have an extraordinarily good memory. At the Spanish Riding School, they are treated like athletes: They require a balanced diet, daily targeted muscle training, solarium visits to warm their muscles, and magnetic field therapy to stimulate their metabolism. Each horse is valued at around EUR 100,000 by the School.

The young Lipizzans are trained at the Spanish Riding School as well as atHeldenberg. It takes approximately six years of training for a Lipizzaner to graduate to a school stallion.

Where To See The Lipizzaner Stallions

You can see the Lipizzaner Stallions in action at the Spanish Riding School.

At the annual open airLipizzaner Gala show at Heldenberg you can watch the Lipizzans in the green hilly surroundings of Vienna. A trip to Heldenberg makes a good day out off the beaten track, and is just a 30 minutes drive from Vienna. The show includes all elements of the High School of Classical Horse Riding, the school quadrilles, pas de deux and the Schools Above Ground.

Date: end of June (date tba)
Time: 6.30pm
Location: Wimpffen-Gasse 5, 3704 Kleinwetzdorf
Tickets: EUR 50 to EUR 90 (25 percent discount for children between 6 and 15 years; children between 3 and 6 years go free)
How to get there: The best way to go there is by car. Go to car rental Vienna for tips.

In addition, the Federal Stud Piber, with historic Piber Castle at the centre, offers guided tours through the stud and visits to their alpine pastures on a regular basis.

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