Lipizzaner Stallions

or Lipizzan as they may some times be called…

…are synonymous with the Spanish Riding School in Vienna, which is one of the elite riding schools in the world and a must visit when in Vienna.

Lipizzaner stables within the Hofburg Palace grounds in Vienna Austria

Lipizzaner Peeking Out Getting Fresh Air

 

At the school located on the grounds of the Hofburg Palace in Vienna, the attraction is the performance of the majestic Lipizzaner Stallions.  Tours are also available, for those who want a bit more insight into this foremost and oldest riding school in the world.  The school dates back over four centuries and was named for the Spanish influence of the breed, in specific the Andalusian, which dates back approximately 2,000 years to Roman times.

History Goes Back To The Habsburg Nobility

The link of this breed with Austria dates back to the 16th Century when it was developed with the support of the Habsburg Nobility.  The breed takes its name from one of the earliest stud farms established in Lipica (Lipizza in Italian), in what today is Slovania. Since 1920 the Lipizzaner stallions have been bred at the stud farm in Piber, located at the southern end of the state of Styria. Strength was a major consideration in developing the breed and this can be seen today in some of the dressage maneuvers exhibited by the stallions.

Morning scene at the Lipizzaner stud farm in Piber Austria

Lipizzaner Stud Farm in Piber - by Enrico Caracciolo

 

Many of these are maneuvers are exhibited as a natural  in nature and later developed and adopted for warfare and the fashionable and growing riding schools commissioned by the nobility in that part of Europe.  Until the end of WW I in 1918, the breed continued to be bred exclusively for royalty, after which the Habsburg dynasty was dissolved.

Saved By Patton

WWII almost dealt a major blow to the breed.  Towards the end of the war, under the protection of General Patton, a major portion of the then existing herd was moved out of Vienna and to safety, ahead of the advance of the Russian army, which was seen as a threat to the herd.

A Must See When In Vienna

When in Vienna, watching the stallions being put through their paces at the Spanish Riding School is truly awe inspiring. The grace and precision will capture you. If you happen to be in or visiting Florida in the winter time, check out the performance schedule of the Original Royal Lipizzan Stallions of Austria in Sarasota,  you’ll witness some of the skills of these stallions and riders.

Lipizzaner training in Sarasota FL
Levage Maneuver

In one of the maneuvers the stallion rears up on its hind legs to gain height and give the military leader (of old) a higher vantage point.  In another maneuver, while on its hind legs, the stallion lashes out with his front ones, simulating the striking of an enemy in front of him.

The most impressive one is where the stallion jumps in the air and while still in the air kicks the hind legs to strike an opponent.  And then there’s just the simple elegance and beauty of these magnificent Lipizzaner stallions.

While At The Hoffburg

Check and see if you can get a ticket to hear the Vienna’s Boy Choir and be sure to check out all the other Central Vienna Attractions located in its Central District.

Lipizzan Stallions in Sarasota

Lipizzan Stallions in Sarasota FL? You may ask. Yes, the Lipizzaner story didn’t just stop in Austria, the breed has also made its way to places around the world.  One of them being in the Sarasota Florida area at the Hermann Royal Lipizzan Ranch, where during the winter months you can observe a dressage clinic and training.

Showing the Levade maneuver during a training session in Sarasota Floridaer

Showing the Levade w/ rider

Founded by Colonel Ottomar Hermann and now under the direction of his daughter, Gabriella Hermann. Here Gabriella (Gaby) continues her father’s legacy with an American Renaissance of classical equitation.

Besides the dressage exhibition, an ongoing breeding program is also in place exclusively for the propagation of the breed and the continuation of the Haute Ecole of this equestrian form.

These magnificent stallions were bred as a war horse as well as a riding show horse during the Habsburg dynasty.  During the dressage you’ll see some of the maneuvers the breed was trained for, especially the Air maneuvers.  In one of the maneuvers, the stallion rears up on its hind legs to gain height and give the rider, which would have been a military leader, in the Habsburg era, a higher vantage point, from where to observe the field of battle.  In another maneuver while on it’s hind legs, the stallion lashes out with its front ones, striking an enemy in front of it.  Then there’s the maneuver where the stallion jumps in the air with all four and while still in the air kicks the hind legs to strike an opponent.

For further information on tours, exhibits, riding school (Spanish American Riding Academy) or even the purchase of a Lipizzaner check out the Hermann Royal Lipizzan Ranch.

The contact person there is, Gabriella (Gabby) Hermann, the director of the Spanish American Riding Academy, and daughter of the now deceased Colonel Ottoman Hermann.
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