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Lipizzaner Horse of the Spanish Riding School of Vienna performing White Stallions.
The White Horses of Vienna
The Spanish Riding School and the Lipizzaner Horses
As a teenager, many moons ago, I was lucky enough to to visit Lipizza in the then Yugoslavia, now Lipica, near Trieste on the Italian border, now in the modern Slovenia. Here is the home of one of the Lipizzaner stud farms, founded in 1580 by a member of the Hapsburg nobility using mainly Spanish stock The Spanish stock itself initially was bred from the Barb horse of Moorish origins. Today, the farm is still a thriving stud, housing wonderful stocky and strong stallions and mares going back in blood lines to the original set up all those years ago through six major bloodlines. Although the horses are known as "white", they are actually grey. The foals are born bay or almost black and gradually fade in color with age until at six they are the well known "white". A bay stallion is always kept at the stud.
The Lipizzaners are best known from their performances as the Spanish Riding School. This is a disciplined display of High School riding following the ancient Greek rules of Xenophon. These movements are based on the use of the horse in battle designed to keep the rider safe. The display contains the Airs above the ground the horse is trained to do a controlled rear, a spirited kick all under the rider's control. It usually takes six years to train the horse to this standard. I have been lucky enough to watch this amazing display, it is totally disciplined and spectacular.
These beautiful horses are not just used in displays. Some of them compete in show jumping where there power is put to use or just as family mounts. They are well represented in the field of international dressage. There average size is between 14.3 and 15.3 making them useful for every member of the family. Heavier versions of this horse are also used as carriage horses. A truly versatile breed.