|Lipizzan Mares and Foals|
Of the many things that I’ve seen in Austria, one of my favorites has been the horses in the park. In July, at the Burggarten, the Lipizzaner mares and foals are normally on display. The first year, I wasn’t here and I missed the second one. Last year I was so lucky to be here when they came. This year, I am waiting in anticipation for the announced dates.
There were tons of people waiting to see this very special event. It is considered a tradition here and brings the beautiful horses a little closer to their loving public.
|Mare and Foal|
Here’s are ten facts about this special breed of horse:
ð There are two common terms used for the horses, either Lipizzans or Lipizzaners.
ð Most Lipizzans measure 14.2 to 15.2 hands high with the original carriage horses approaching 16.1 hands.
ð Lipizzan horse mature very slowly therefore allowing them to live and be active longer.
ð Most Lipizzans are gray with the occasional rare solid colored horse being born.
ð When they are born they are very dark in coloring, usually bay or black, and become lighter each year until the process is complete sometime between 6 and 10 years. Yet they are not a true white horse as they skin is pigmented black as are their eyes.
ð While most are gray to white, there is a tradition that one bay stallion is always in residence at the Spanish Riding School of Vienna.
ð They have been a breed since approximately 800 AD with their predecessors brought to Spain by the Moors.
ð The Habsburgs wanted a powerful but agile horse for both military and at their riding school. IN 1580 Archduke Charles II established a stud Lipizza, located today in modern Slovenia, which consisted of Spanish, Barb and Arabian stock crossed with the now extinct Neapolitan breed to produce Lipizzaner horses.
ð Every horse that one sees in the classic Lipizzaner displays is a stallion. They are each chosen specifically for their ability to get along with other stallions and some are quite attentive to each other.
ð The most difficult display they do is known as classic dressage and commonly called airs above the ground.
They have a varied history during wartime that include many relocations to ensure the breed was safe from extinction. During WWII, the German high command transferred most of the stock to Czechoslovakia. This included all the breeding stock from Piber in 1942. The Spanish Riding School stock was moved to St. Martins, Austria when it was feared the horses were in danger from the bombing raids on Vienna. In the spring of 1945, the horses were threatened by the advancing Soviet Army who might have used the horses for meat.
|Mare at Burggarten|
The head of the Spanish Riding School at the time, Colonel Alois Podhajsky put on a display for General George Patton, who was a horse man, and requested his protection. The site where the horse were located had been occupied in late April by allied forces. The operation became known as ‘Operation Cowboy’ and resulted in the recovery of 375 Lipizzans.
The stallions were returned to the Spanish Riding School in 1955 once the Russian occupation was over. In 2015, to commemorate their rescue, the Lipizzaners celebrated the 60th anniversary of Patton’s rescue by touring the US.
The stallions come to the Riding School when they are just four years old and it takes an average of six years for each horse to be trained. Schooling is only considered complete when they have mastered the skills required to perform what is known as the “School Quadrille.” The three skill sets taught to the stallions are forward riding, campaign school and high-school dressage and this is where the horse maybe taught ‘Airs Above the Ground.’ It all depends upon the horse how high their training sights are set for that particular animal.
|Dappled Lipizzaner Foal|
The pictures are self-explanatory. For a more elaborate look at the Lipizzaners here are a few websites:
Hope you enjoyed this little look into Austria and beyond. See you all next week!