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The Lipizzaner

The court parade horse and the Spanish Riding School

The world-famous Lipizzaner owes its name to the village of Lipica in modern Slovenia (Lipizza in Italian), where the former imperial stud farm was founded with Spanish horse stock in 1580. In 1580, the Graz-based Archduke Charles II, appointed regent of Styria, Carinthia and Istria by his father Ferdinand I, was tasked with finding a way to bring beautiful horses to the Austrian court for ceremonial duties. His eye fell on an abandoned spot near Trieste — Lipica. The site and all its former estate lands resembled a rocky desert, where parched grass and herbs grew but sparsely. However, the area was well-known for rearing the superb Karst horse since as far back as the time of the Greeks. Tireless work went into building a stud farm there. Through the purchase of Spanish horses and good stud work, the horse stock grew and the farm saw constant expansion.

Lipizzaners have been bred from Spanish, Italian, German and Danish studs since the early 1700s. All these “refining stallions” possessed Spanish blood. When there were no longer any ancient Spanish stallions, Oriental horses were used to introduce fresh blood lines.

White coat only after the first few years

Lipizzaners are born black, brown or mousy grey. Their coat changes, however, every time they moult. The darker hues gradually give way to lighter tones via many shades of grey.
It is only at the age of between seven and ten years that most horses finally display the beautiful white coat of the Schimmel (grey horse). Brown Lipizzaners are rare. However, it is a tradition of the Spanish Riding School to have at least one brown Lipizzaner in their stables at all times: they are thought to bring good luck. Lipizzaners are characterised by their compact, elegant body, graceful movements, eagerness to learn, spirited nature, good temper, courage, toughness and stamina. The shapely head of the Lipizzaner may sometimes feature a Roman nose. It has a high-set neck, carried proudly and with nobility. The muscular back runs through to powerful hindquarters. Its distinctive features makes it a baroque-style ceremonial horse. It also possesses a well-set tail, thick with fine hair. Boating profiled limbs, it has well-formed ankle joints and beautifully shaped hooves. Its characteristic white coat only became a dominant feature over the course of the 19th century.  This colour was favoured by breeders for reasons of taste, although the white hair of the Arabian horse had also proven genetically dominant so that a black or brown Lipizzan is rather rare nowadays.

Lipizzanergestüt Piber
Piber 1
A-8580 Köflach
Tel: +43 3144 33 23