The Lipizzan’s roots go back to Moorish-occupied Spain when Spanish-bred horses were considered the optimum cavalry mount. In 1562, Maximillian II brought Spanish horses to the Austrian court. His brother Archduke Charles II created another stud at Lipizza by the Adriatic Sea. The White Stallions of Vienna at the Spanish Riding School in Austria are part of this heritage. The school’s performances were originally for the cavalry to show off the best-trained horses of the Austrian empire. Six stallions are foundation sires: Conversano, Favory, Maestoso, Neapolitano, Pluto and Siglavy.
The Lipizzan is considered the ambassador of classical dressage because it was specifically bred for this ancient art that began as training for cavalry mounts. They are masters of the high movements of dressage—piaffe and passage. Their strong haunches and hocks make the horses naturals at collection. Today’s Lipizzans are mostly white because the Austrian nobility preferred and selectively bred white horses. Bay and black horses do occur but are rare. Lipizzans are born dark, brown or gray, but they turn white between the ages of 5 and 10. The Lipizzan stands between 14.3 and 15.3 hands.
For more information:
United States Lipizzan Registry, www.uslr.org