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What’s Old Is New with the Lipizzans at Tempel Farms

The quadrille is often referred to as the “Ballet of the White Stallions.” It is the grand finale to each performance with intricate choreography, precision and elegance. Photo by John Borys

In the 60 years since its founding, the work of the Tempel Lipizzans has educated and inspired many generations of Americans on cultural and equine histories and on the art of dressage. Located just 45 miles north of Chicago, Ill., Tempel Farms is a privately owned breeding, training and exhibition center. The picturesque midwestern facility is home to Lipizzan horses in all stages of life and training.

With dedication to maintaining the original standards of the breed, Tempel Lipizzans regards with great respect the European state stud farms that have fostered the breed for hundreds of years, beginning in Slovenia in 1580. This year, eight foals are expected. Considered an endangered domestic breed, each Lipizzan birth is a unique message from the past.

Each summer the farm opens its doors to the public to share the beauty of the Lipizzan horse and the classical dressage training for which they are best known. Behind the scenes, tours throughout the year allow access to life outside the performance stables where broodmares, youngsters and retired horses spend their days.

Lipizzan colt Siglavy Bionda was imported in utero from Piber Stud, the breeding farm of the Spanish Riding School in Vienna, Austria. Keeping to the original breeding standards and strong genetic lines is a high priority for the Tempel Farms breeding program. Photo by John Borys
Lipizzan stallion Pluto Ambrosia. Photo by John Borys
The Lipizzan is also well-known for its use as a carriage horse, and they are commonly found in modern-day European driving competitions. Photo by John Borys
The levade is a former battle maneuver that is considered a “high school” movement, or haute école in classical dressage. Head trainer Bill Clements demonstrates a mounted levade on Maestoso Amarika. Photo by John Borys
Lipizzan stallion Neapolitano VI Anita descends from the first foal born at Tempel Farms, a filly named Prima Donna, foaled in 1959. Photo by John Borys
At the Spanish Riding School in Vienna, Lipizzans perform in a palace. At Tempel Farms, the backdrop to the performance arena is a natural amphitheater formed by the rolling hills of Northern Illinois. Photo by John Borys
Late to mature, Lipizzans begin their training at 4 years old and, in many cases, are still in full work into their 20s. Photo by John Borys
Favory VIII Bellanna has the slightly convex profile that is characteristic of the breed. Photo by John Borys
Tempel Lipizzans is an educational institution with a mission to promote classical riding and Lipizzan horses in the United States. Behind the scenes, tours have become a popular means for educational goals. Photo by John Borys
Rare bay Lipizzan Maestoso Batrina performs the courbette. The majority of Lipizzans are born dark and lighten to gray as they mature. About one in 400 Lipizzans will stay dark, and they are considered a good luck charm in the stable. Photo by John Borys
In the educational segment of the performance, young horses are matched with highly trained horses in order to best illustrate basic gaits and the concept of collection. For example, weight-bearing by a young horse cantering on a 20-meter circle is more concentrated on his front legs, while an upper-level horse doing a canter pirouette will bear more weight on his hind legs. Photo by John Borys

This photo portfolio featuring images of the Tempel Farms Lipizzans appeared in the March 2020 issue of Horse Illustrated magazine. Click here to subscribe!

John Borys

In June of 2013, John Borys visited Tempel Lipizzans and fell in love with horses. Tempel introduced him to dressage, and he fell in love with the sport. He then began photographing dressage on a weekly basis and fell in love with the people involved with the sport.

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