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Lipizzan Horse: A Horse Dedicated to Spanish Riding School in Vienna

Lipizzan or Lipizzaner is a famous Austrian dressage horse of Europe and popular in many parts. The horse is closely related to the Spanish Riding School in Viena, Austria, where it demonstrated High School movements of Classical dressage; ‘Haute Ecole. This is a highly controlled and stylized jump and other movements known as ‘airs above the ground.’ The horse trained in the Spanish Riding school for hundred years for classical dressage.

Important Information on Lipizzan Horse

Lipizzaner is an Austrian horse breed that was developed in 1580 AD. The Austro-Hungarian Emperor developed the horse breed at Lipizza near Trieste. The horse was developed from Spanish Andalusian, Barb, Arabian, and few other European breeds. The horse was mainly used for classical dressage in Spanish Riding School. The horses were also imported to the United States of America. 

Beautiful Lipizzan Horse

History and Development

The Lipizzan horses developed in 800 AD. The history of development is much back when the Muslims conquer Iberian Peninsula in 700 AD; they brought Barb and Arabian horses with them. They bred the horses with Spanish horses and developed several horses like Andalusian, Lusitano, and few other Spanish horses. 

Habsburgs was ruled both Spain and Austria in the 16th century. As a result, a powerful horse breed was developed to utilize both military and fashionable Riding Schools. In 1562, Maximilian-II, the Habsburg ruler, brought Spanish Andalusian horses and established a stud at Kladrub. In 1580, Maximillian’s brother Archduke Charles-II, the ruler of Inner Austria, established a similar stud in Lipizza (presently known as Lilica). The location was present-day Slovenia, and the name of the breed taken from this location, the ‘Lipa’ in Slovene word means “Linden Tree.”

Excellent Horse Lipizzan

Later on, the Lipizzan horses were crossbred with Spanish Andalusian horses, Barb horses, Arabian stocks, Neapolitan horses (now extinct), and Baroque horses. Thus, two distinct horses were descended; heavy draft horse and light carriage horse, modern-day Lipizzan or Lipizzaner horse.

Physical Characteristics

The Lipizzan horse has a long head with a slightly convex body profile. The eyes are large, the ears are small, the jaws are profound, the nostrils are flared, and the eyes are expressive. The neck is strong and arched, and the withers are low, muscular, and broad. The chest is deep, the croup is broad, and the shoulder is muscular. The legs are solid and muscular, the tendons are well-defined, and the joints are broad. The tail is well-set and carried in high. 

Physical Characteristics of Lipizzan Horse

Height and Weight of Lipizzan Horse

The average height of the horse is about 14.2 hands to 15.2 hands (58 to 62 inches; 147- 157 cms). The original carriage horses are taller than the average horses and reach 16.1 hands (65 inches) or 165 cms. The average bodyweight of the horses is 450 to 550 kgs (1000-1200 pounds).

Height and Weight of Lipizzaner

Color and Markings of Lipizzaner

The Lipizzan horses are mostly grey though some horses are found in solid colors like black or bay. The horses’ skin is black, the eyes are dark, and white hair coats like other grey horses. The foals of Lipizzan are born in black or bay, and they become greyer years after years and become complete grey horse at the age of 10 years. There is a misconception that Lipizzan is not a true white horse. The actual white horse is born as a white horse, and the horse’s skin is unpigmented.

Color and Markings of Lipizzan Horse

The Lipizzaner is also found in many coat colors, including chestnut, black, brown, bay, dun, skewbald, and piebald. The grey gene is a dominating factor in the color generation of this breed. The grey color is a distinguishing feature for the selection of this breed.

Behavior and Temperament

The horse is docile and highly obedient. They perform the difficult jumps in the Spanish Riding School. The horses mature slowly, and they live longer than many horse breeds. They perform their best at the age of 20 years, and they can live actively up to 30 years.

Behavior of Horse

Training of Lipizzan Horse

The traditional Lipizzaner horse riding training was developed in the Spanish Riding School. The training is principally based on the classical dressage, which was written by Ancient Greek write Xenophon. He thought that horse training should include both mental and physical matters should be considered. Federico Grisone is the founder of the first Riding Training Academy in Naples and has contributed to Lipizzan horses’ training. 

Training of Lipizzan Horse

In the mid 20th century, Alois Podhajsky wrote several rules in the textbook for the dressage riding of horses. The young stallion of Lipizzan comes to the school at the age of 4, and they train for six years to complete the training. Three progressively difficult skills are taught forward riding, campaign school, and high-school dressage. 

Spanish Riding School

Spanish Riding School is the oldest Riding Training academy, especially for the Lipizzan horse breed. The school is located in Viena, Austria, and was established in 1572 AD by Habsburg Emperor. Spanish Riding School is one of the “Big Four” riding training academies of the world; others are Royal Andalusian School, Portuguese School of Equestrian Art, and Cadre Noir in France. The school is one of the most attractive tourist locations in Austria.

Spanish Riding School

Modern Lipizzan Horse

The Lipizzaner horses are best used in the Spanish Riding School in Viena, Austria. The horses are used for classical dressage, horsemanship, dressage, driving, and beautiful mounts. There are only 3000 Lipizzan horses throughout the world and mainly in Europe and the US. The breeders are conscientious about the purity and maintain the quality of the breed. 

Austrian Horse Lipizzaner

Lipizzan International Federation (LIF) is the breed’s international governing body to look after the breeding, quality, training, registration and uses of the horse. The federation has 19 countries and nine state-owned studs. In 2012, the LIF had more than 11,000 horses and mainly from Europe. 

Movement of Lipizzan Horses “Airs Above the Ground”

The term “airs above the ground” are the complex high-school dressage gaits and movements made famous by Lipizzaner horses. The movements are:

  • The Levade.
  • The Courbette.
  • The Capriole.
  • The Croupade.
  • The Mezair.

Versatile Uses of Lipizzan

The Lipizzan horses are primarily used in the Spanish Riding School for classical dressage. The other uses of the horses are:

  • Pleasure riding.
  • Dressage.
  • Driving.
  • Popular in TV series and movies like Miracle of the White Stallion and Florian.

Concluding Remarks on Lipizzaner Horse

Lipizzan is an Austrian horse breed used explicitly for the Spanish Riding School. The horse was developed from Spanish, Arabian, and Barb horses by the Austro-Hungarian Emperor. The horse is famous for its classical dressage and movements. In my article, I have tried to discuss the most exciting information on this exceptional horse breed.

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