Leaping Lipizzaners!

...and on the eighth day, God created the horse, to romp, graze, gallop, play and make manure wherever it darn well pleases, in divine grace.

The famous Spanish Riding School, in Vienna, Austria was formed in 1572 to train and teach the nobility to ride and was named after the Spanish horses that were used there. The Lipizzaner horse (1) gets its name from the Lipica Stud in Slovenia, where the breed originally came from.

Charles II founded the Stud in 1580, by importing nine stallions and twenty four mares from the Iberian Peninsula. He wanted a beautiful, flashy white horse for the court stables in Vienna and also for the Duke’s stables in Graz.

There have been infusions into the breed of Arab blood, Danish, Neopolitan and German. Some Thoroughbred blood was introduced, though unsuccessfully.

The Lipizzaner horse comes from six foundation stallions, whose bloodlines still exist today.

The stallions were Siglavy, a gray Arabian, foaled in 1810; Favory, a dun stallion, foaled in 1779 at the Kladruby Stud; Maestoso, a gray stallion, foaled in 1819 at the Hungarian stud of Mezohegyes; Conversano, a black Neopolitan stallion, foaled in 1767; Pluto, a gray Spanish stallion, foaled in 1765 and bought from the Royal Danish Stud; and Neapolitano, a brown Neopolitan stallion, foaled in 1790.

Today, the Lipizzaner is mostly white, with an occasional bay. In times past, it came with a variety of haircoat colors, including spotted and dun.

Now they are bred to be gray, but it is still a tradition at the Spanish Riding School that there should always be one bay Lipizzaner in residence at all times.

Since 1920, the Lipizzaners have been bred for the Spanish Riding School in Pider, Austria, although they are also bred in Romania, Hungary and the former Czechoslovakia.

They are most often used for farm work or light draft hauling.

In general, the horses bred for the Spanish School are smaller than the horses worked on the land, and are long-lived and intelligent. They mature late and can be ridden into their twenties.

They are pretty horses with attractive heads and can appear quite muscular and drafty-looking. They are considered a warm blood and stand between 15.1HH and 16.2HH.

Another white, draft-type horse bred in Czechoslovakia is the Kladruber. (2) It originated during the 16th and 17th centuries and came from primarily Andalusian and Neapolitan stock. It shares similar characteristics with the Lipizzaner.

The Kladruby Imperial Court Stud, formed in 1579 by Emperor Rudolph II, became the principle breeding farm of the Kladruber Horse. Note the above foundation stallion for the Lipizzaner breed. It was developed to become a top-notch carriage horse for the Imperial Court.

Unfortunately, the first 200 years worth of Kladruber stud records were lost in a fire in 1757, so most early information concerning them has been lost. In the mid-1700's, the breed was traced to three stallions: the white stallion Pepoli and his two sons, Generalissimus and Generale, and two black stallions, each named Sacromoso.

The gray (white) Kladrubers are still bred at the Kladruby Stud, but sadly, the black ones are extinct, destroyed in the 1930's, with most of them being sold for meat.

However, a few black mares were rescued and there has been a hard effort to re-establish the lines.

The Kladruber of Czechoslavakia is a nice horse with an energetic, but calm, temperament. They appear very drafty and are used for hauling, but they are often crossed with lighter breeds to make a riding horse.

They are very good competitive animals, making great harness driving and riding horses and can be seen at world class levels.

They are considered a warm blood and stand at 16.2HH to 17HH. Their heads are long with a convex profile that some might look upon as Roman and they have a kind eye with a beautiful tail and mane.

If you have a chance, go see the Lipizzaner Stallions when they travel to this area; usually they visit Erie and Pittsburgh. Not only are they beautiful to watch, but their Dressage moves and “Airs Above the Ground” will leave you awestruck.

There are two different Lipizzaner Troups; if you happen to see Colonel Herman’s original Lipizzaners, you may visit the stallions backstage and talk with their caretakers.

I had a chance to actually meet (the now late) Colonel Herman a few years ago and take a private Dressage riding lesson from his daughter, Gabby.

Though very expensive, Gabby is an awesome rider and instructor and I got to ride a real Lipizzaner stallion(!), who performs in the traveling show.

I feel very privileged for this experience.

The Disney movie, “Miracle of the White Stallions,” is a great family movie, portraying the flight of the Lipizzaners out of Austria ahead of Hitler’s armies in WWII. It profiles Colonel Herman's life with the horses, and his struggle to keep this beautiful animal safe and alive.

Rent it for your family, tomorrow.

I hope to see you all right here next week.

It looks as though Fall is here, with lots of rain.

Just when you think you and your horse are being swallowed alive by the Queen Mother of all mud-pies, Autumn will raise her beautiful head and smile straight at you, her hair done up in ribbons of burnt orange on gold, complete with flowers and clothed in mantle of blue sky.

Ride safe and dream of sunny days ahead.

Leaving you once again with the immortal words of Roy Rogers and Dale Evans, “Happy Trails to You.”

1,2: “The Encyclopedia of Horses and Ponies,” by Tamsin Pickeral.