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									Horses - The Lipizzaners

Word Count:

Among the many breeds of horses around the world today, the Lipizzaners
are some of the most elegant and graceful equines that one will ever
encounter. I have endeavoured to paint a picture with words so that one
may capture the essence of these truly remarkable horses.


Article Body:
Some History of the Lipizzaners

The aristocratic Lipizzaners are descended from the Iberian Horse, which
is the oldest breed in the world. Iberians were used as war horses from
4000 years before Mohammed, when camels were used as mounts in warfare
and their Lipizzaner descendants today are trained to perform movements
which were originally taught to military mounts so that they were more
effective in battle.

The breed was first established in 1590, by the Archduke of Austria,
Charles II. He began the first stud farm in Lipizza, then a part of
Italy, and began breeding the Iberian with the native breeds of Italy.
Until well into the late 1700s, these horses were crossbred with the
finest of horses from Spain, Italy and Arabia. They were used, during
that time, as family and carriage horses for the Royal Court in Vienna.

In 1735, Charles VI of Austria established the Spanish Riding School in
Vienna. It is the oldest riding school in the world (so named for the
Spanish horses who were a large foundation of the breed), and for more
than 400 years has trained riders and horses to perform the classical
dressage movements which have made the Lipizzaner famous. When Charles
began the school, he also began recording the bloodlines of the breed.

Of the nine original studs used to establish the breed, six bloodlines
are used solely for breeding at the Spanish Riding School and Lipizzaners
of South Africa at Kyalami. These are the ones which they recognize as
the purest of the breed. Those six stallions were:

-   Pluto, born in 1765, grey in color
-   Conversano, born in 1767, black in color
-   Favory, born in 1779, dun in color
-   Neapolitano, born in 1790, bay (brown) in color
-   Siglavy, born in 1810, grey in color
-   Maestroso II, born in 1819, grey in color
Although the two breeders mentioned here tend to favor the light-grey and
white stallions for showing, they consider it bad luck if there is not at
least one bay horse in their stables.

Lipizzaners are branded with a special symbol to indicate from which
bloodlines they descended. They bear the symbol of their sire, and the
symbol of their dam's sire. This is called the "ancestral brand".
Foals are branded with a number so that one can easily locate them in the
foal registry. In addition to these two brands, each Lipizzaner also
carries the "brand of descent" on its left cheek. This is quite often an
"L".   For more information about these symbols, see:


More recently, two other bloodlines have been internationally recognized
as purebred. Those are:

- Tulipan, born in 1850, no color stated
- Incitato, no date of birth or color stated

While not indicated as being recognized by the two aforementioned
breeders, these bloodlines are acceptable to many modern-day advocates of
the bloodline purity.

In 1920, the decision was made to move the Lipizzaners from Lipizza (now
in present-day Slovenia) to Piber, Austria. During World War 2 the
entire inventory of the stock was moved to Holstau to prevent the animals
from being seized and used in battle, or requisitioned as food supplies
by hostile forces. The line almost became extinct (only 250 horses
survived), and would have been wiped out completely without the
intervention of General George Patton. He and his troops rescued the
survivors so that they could move on to continue their incredible

In 1948, after having fled Europe, Count Elemer Jankovich-Besan moved
some of the surviving horses to South Mooi River in South Africa. He
gifted one of the stallions to Major George Iwanowski who, in turn,
started the Lipizzaners of South Africa School. This is one of the two
accredited Lipizzaner Centers in the world, the other being the Spanish
Riding School.

Description and Conformation of the Lipizzaners

Foals are usually dark or black-brown when born. They go through several
different color changes before finally achieving their adult color
between the ages of four and ten. Most often, the color is light-gray or
white. However, there are also duns and bays. They are simply not as
common and it is a rarity to have an adult Lipizzaner be totally black-
brown or black.

The breed is long-lived, and has been recorded to live as long as 34
years. It is not uncommon for a Lipizzaner to live well into its 20s.
They are very loyal and are well-known for their magnificent stamina,
agility, strength, and courage.
For training and showing, only stallions are used. And the
breeders/trainers look for a certain conformation in those horses which
are eventually trained for dressage. These include:

- the stallion should be 15.2 to 16 hands (a hand is four inches, or 6
cm) high, that is 155 to 160 cm
- the head is slightly aquiline to gently Roman in shape, and the eyes
are a good width apart
- the neck should be crested, but not appear too heavy at the top nor too
thick underneath
- the back and the neck should be of equal length
- the chest should be strong, and of medium width
- the shoulders should have a good slope
- the legs should appear shorter, so that the horse is better conformed
to perform the "Airs Above the Ground"
- the musculature should be pronounced, without making the horse appear
too heavy - the hind quarters should be well-rounded
- the mane and tail should be thick and full, but fine and soft to the

"Classical Dressage"

The "Airs Above the Ground", when performed and observed, bring to mind
the movements of a ballerina. In a manner of speaking, the Lipizzaner is
the ballerina of the equine world.

The exercises performed by these magnificent creatures include:

- the levade: a 45 degree position in which the horse is "haunched" over
the ground - the courbette: the horse balances on his hind legs before
jumping, and keeps his forelegs off the ground and his hind legs together
while "hopping"
- the capriole: the stallion leaps into the air, tucks his forelegs under
him, and kicks out with his hind legs at the height of elevation
- the piaffe: a cadenced trot which the stallion performs while standing
in place
- the croupade: similar to the capriole, but both front and hind legs are
tucked under the body at the height of elevation

and many more. It is fascinating to watch these horses in performance,
and it is a once-in-a-lifetime experience which true horse-lovers should
experience. They are stunning and, at times, awe-inspiring. They truly
are the ballerinas of the equine world, and a marvelous site to behold!

The Slovenians consider the Lipizzaner to be the first pure-bred ever
established in their country. As such, it will most likely be pictured
on their new euro coins. This horse is highly prized in their country.

The breed is rare today, with only about 3,000   horses registered as
purebreds. But, the numbers are increasing as    breeders use the horses
more in harness. Slovenians use the stallions    for dressage display and
to cross-breed with their own native stock for   use in agricultural work.
The Lipizzaner is still the only breed used by the Spanish Riding School
in Austria.

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