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The Dancing Horses of Vienna and Facts About Lipizzaners

Updated on December 13, 2015
tazzytamar profile image

Anna studied psychology, law, English and animal welfare in college. She is a mother of two and a 2019 bride!


"Horse of War, Horse of Ballet"

The Lipizzaner horse breed is many horse enthusiast's dream horse. This breed is highly intelligent, docile and forms an incredibly strong bond with it's owner. Interestingly Lipizzaner foals are born dark and then become grey, only eventually becoming pure white when they are fully mature.

They have become world-famous as the dancing horses of Vienna, which are renowned as some of the most beautiful and most well-trained horses in the world.

A Thing of Beauty...

You may have heard of the world-famous Lipizzaner stallions? Also known as the Dancing Horses of Vienna, which is a spectacle on many individual's bucket lists.

These horses are so beautiful that they will leave you breathless and so graceful, elegant and regal that if you watch them performing with the Spanish Riding School where they undergo extensive, specialised training to learn highly stylised movements, jumps and the infamous "airs above ground" for which they are renowned, you will be left utterly blown away with a pounding heart.

Most Lipizzaner horses are between 14.2 and 15.2 hands, but some have been known to reach 16 hands. They are gray horses, not a true white as many people think, as white horses must have pink skin, and Lipizzaners have dark skin. This breed begins life as a bay or black foal, and gradually becomes lighter over a period of 6-10 years, when the process will generally be complete and the horses coats will have become white, which it shall remain for the rest of it's life.

The Lipizzaners are responsible for the creation of many different 'high school' dressage movements, which have become famous, along with the riders, school and these astonishingly agile and athletic animals. They perform these motions with jaw-dropping fastidiousness and grace. These performances include:

1. The Capriole - a stylised jump where the stallion tucks his front legs beneath his chest and kicks his hind legs high onto the air behind him.

2. The Lavade - an incredibly unique movement which demands an incredible amount of hind-quarter and back leg strength from the horses if it is to be successful. The stallion stands only on it's back legs, and raises it's body to a 30 degree angle - where it balances.

3. The Mezair - sadly, this is currently not performed any longer at the Riding School. It is a performance of continuous, successive lavades.

4. The Courbette - a movement that makes everyone and anyone marvel at the strength and beauty of this breed. The stallion, when performing this movement, essentially 'hops'. He does this by standing with his front legs tucked beneath his chest and whilst keeping both his back legs together he balances for a moment before jumping.

400 years of breeding have resulted in this breed being one of the oldest in existence today. Previously, Lipizzaners were bred and used by the Hapsburg monarchy as carriage and riding horses, and tragically today they are considered rare, with fewer than 3000 left. Great care is having to be taken to preserve the purity of the breed, while the population increases.

Lipizzaner Poll

Would you like to go to see the Dancing Horses of Vienna?

See results

Dancing Lipizzaners in Vienna Video

Do you love Lipizzaner horses?

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    • takkhisa profile image


      5 years ago

      This is one of the most beautiful horse breeds I have ever seen before! Thanks for sharing it.

    • delia-delia profile image


      5 years ago

      Definitely do! They are amazing horses...every time I went to Austria we would go to visit where they performed and wanting to see the stallions, however it was breeding season and they were out at the Stud breeding mares. I have a collection of Lippizaner and Andalusian items especially old rare books. I've also painted many paintings of them.

    • NoProblemmo profile image


      5 years ago

      Sure, who doesn't? There is actually a fight between Austria and Slovenia about the home of the breed. Lipica (here comes the name from) is in Slovenia, but this lovely town was of course part of Austria's monarchy when the school was established ... Well, there are many books on the subject ...

    • VspaBotanicals profile image


      5 years ago

      I would love to see them, I think they are so fascinating!

    • profile image


      5 years ago

      I do. My mom and I were fortunate to be able to visit the Spanish Riding School in Vienna as well as watch a performance of a traveling Lipizzaner group in the U.S. They are remarkable horses!


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