August 10, 2008 | | Comments 0

Lipizzan Horse

Lipizzan Horse

Promoting Classical Dressage with the Lipizzan

The Lipizzan horse breed has quite a dramatic history. From its royal origins to its daring rescue, its story can be good material for an exciting film adaptation.

The Lipizzan Origins

Lipizzan horses have a lineage that can be traced to several centuries ago. The modern Lipizzan breed however only began over four centuries ago. In the second half of the 16th century, the royal house of Hapsburg realized the need to breed excellent horses for carriages and for riding. The Kladbury stud was therefore first opened to breed large, sturdy, royal horses for carriages called the Kladbury. Two decades later, another stud at Lipizza was opened. This time, it specialized in breeding the fine riding horses that came to be known as the Lipizzans.

Breeding began in Lipizza with Spanish horses that were crossed with Italian ones. Other European horse breeds were also introduced but Spanish blood remained dominant. By 1735, the breed became so established that the Spanish Riding School was opened. The school was called such because it specialized in promoting and using the Lipizzan breed. Moreover, the school excelled in high school classical dressage with the Lipizzan as the horse of choice.

For a long time, the horse breed prospered and became highly prized. It seemed as if it was in no danger of disappearing like other horse breeds. This was simply because Lipizzan horses were neither farm nor carriage horses. They were riding horses used for sport and pleasure and therefore had a steady number of supporters throughout every decade.

The safe and elevated position of Lipizzans changed during the Second World War. Like human beings and every other animal, they were in danger of becoming incidental bomb casualties. They were also in danger of dying of hunger, being killed for food and being captured by enemies who may not have cared about ensuring pure breeding. Fortunately, these horses were taken under the protection of the U.S. army. They were saved from being stolen or used as meat for food. Although the Lipizzan population became depleted during the war, they continue to thrive today.

Lipizzan Traits

The Lipizzan has a solid, muscular body; strong quarters and defined joints. These alone will reveal that the Lipizzan deserves its reputation for excellence in performing difficult dressage techniques. Although they are truly have a regal, graceful and impressive bearing they are not overly tall at 15.2 hands. They are also intelligent and can be easily managed. These are necessary traits for precise training and performance.

The Lipizzan is most popular for its ability to execute a set of difficult dressage techniques known as “airs above the ground.” Some of these techniques require the horses to stand for a period of time on their hind legs or jump in the air with their legs tucked in. Some popular techniques include pirouette, mezair, piaffe, courbette and capriole.

Although they are popular dressage horses, they also make impressive riding horses for leisurely rides. The Spanish Riding School in Vienna, Austria is still one of the prime institutions that continue to use and promote the rare Lipizzan breed.

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