Horse Breeds: Lipizzaner
The Austrian horse, originating in Slovenia, is the star of the Spanish riding school in Vienna. To speak of an international race. These white baroque animals are extremely suitable for high classical dressage. They have a modest wither and a ram nose, and they are intelligent and easy to train.
Their origins begin in 1580 in the town of Lipizza, then in the Austro-Hungarian Empire. Today this town is located in Slovenia. The best Andalusian stallions from all over Spain were bought to cross with the local mares to provide the royal stables in Vienna with the best high school horses. Archduke Charles II of Austria no longer wanted to rely on imported animals to stock his stables with sufficient quality. Over the course of three centuries, the Napolitaner, Kladruber and Fredericksburg were also crossed and a little Arabian blood was added. In Napoleonic times, the Lipizzaners were spread across Hungary to keep the breed as safe as possible and after the First World War, the Lipizzaner breeding farm ended up in Piber, Austria, where the stud farm of the Spanish Riding School is still located.
The Lipizzaner is almost always a gray, foals are born fox, brown or black, and they have a fair amount of mane and tail. They are a round-built horse, their head is dry, but often with a light ram nose, they have a fairly high set, curved neck, a modest withers and a fairly low croup. The legs are hard and dry, the hooves are small and strong. They have a short back but long loins and are quite low on the legs. Because of this, the Lipizzaner leans towards the collection, which was highly appreciated in the High School, and they have a good natural balance. They have a height between 1.53 and 1.63m. This breed packs a lot of stamina, strength, and a decent amount of speed. Their history and appearance have made the Lipizzaner a real status symbol. Royal stables are not complete if there is not at least one horse of this breed.
The Lipizzaner is a horse bred to perform light-footed work. They had to be cooperative, intelligent, very dexterous, and do what is required with great diligence. This has made them generally horses with a lot of pizzazz, yet easy going. Stallions are very easy to handle. A lot has been selected for this, as the Spanish riding school only uses stallions to ride. Because they are intelligent animals with a very good memory, they are flexible not only in body, but also in behavior. Their character is described as friendly but proud, willing to meet the demands of his companion.
Purposes of use
They are bred for dressage, but these horses also stand their ground in harness. In some countries they are also used on land and because of their intelligence and stability they have also been used a lot as a circus horse. They participate at a high level in the driving sport. The Hungarian teams have been riding a lot with Lipizzaners in various driving disciplines for decades and also IJsbrand Chardon, multiple Dutch champion four-in-hand has already had a team of Lipizzans. The High School, also called Haute école or classical dressage, is of course exactly their purpose.
The breed is known to be late maturing. Only at the age of 7 or 8 can they start doing heavier work and it will then take another 7 years before they have completed their training. On the other hand, it is not uncommon that at the age of 25-30 they still participate in the shows of the Spanish Riding School and thus still deliver top performances. At least one light brown Lipizzaner is still kept at the Spanish Riding School to keep the ties with the past strong, because in the past there were all kinds of colors.