The Lipizzan traces its history back to the early 1560's
when the finest Arab and Berber blood was introduced into
the local athletic Spanish Andalusians that were created during
the Moorish occupation of Spain in the 7th Century. King Maximillian
II brought these Spanish horses to his native Austria around
1562 and founded the court stud at Kladrub. His brother, the
Archduke Charles, established a similar stud farm in 1580
in the town of Lipizzaner, Slovenia, and from the Lipizza
stud farm came the breed's name of Lipizzan. Both of these
studs flourished, but in slightly different directions. The
Kladrub stud was known for heavy carriage horses, and the
Lipizza stud was known for riding horses and light carriage
horses although breeding stock was exchanged between the studs.
The Kladrub and Lipizza stock were bred to the native Karst
horses with successive generations crossed with the old Neapolitan
breed. During the 1700's, horses of Spanish and Italian origin
included sires from Denmark, Spain and Holstein, but were
of pure Spanish descent. To strengthen the original Spanish-Arab
strain, several of these stallions were purchased during the
18th and 19th centuries for use at Lipizza and Kladrub but
only six were accepted as the foundation lines of the Lipizzan
known today. Maestoso and Favory, two of the foundation sires
of today's Lipizzan were produced at the Kladrub stud.
In addition to the 6 ancestral stallion lines, there are
18 mare family lines. By tradition, every stallion has a double
name, with the first being the lineage name of his sire and
the second name being that of his dam. However, there does
not appear to be a provision that could prevent multiple stallions
from the same parents from having the same name. As for mares,
names should be complementary to the traditional Lipizzan
line names and must also end in the letter "a".
An integral part of Lipizzan history is the Spanish Riding
School of Vienna that was founded in 1572 and which the Hapsburg
monarchy rebuilt in 1735 in the Imperial Palace in Vienna
under the auspice of Charles VI. For over 430 years, the school's
purpose has been to perpetuate the art of classical horsemanship
and to the breed and train the Lipizzan horses. Only the best
are kept to continue the line and so promising stallions are
sent to the Spanish Riding School to begin training at the
age of four where they go through six years of rigorous dressage
school. These Lipizzaner stallions then perform their art
for the rest of their lives on tours throughout the world
to benefit the work of the Spanish Riding School. The Lipizzan
horses can perform through their 20's and some have been known
to perform up to age 30.
At first, the Lipizzan horses were bred for the Hapsburg
royalty, which controlled the horses and their training until
World War I. But after the assassination of Archduke Ferdinand,
the Austrian branch of the Hapsburgs dissolved, and then the
Lipizzan breed almost died out during World War II.
Traditionally, the Lipizzan horses from the Spanish Riding
School had been relocated around Austria to avoid war and
during World War II, the horses were moved by the German High
Command several times. Unfortunately, the horses were frequently
stabled in areas where desperate refugees considered the horses
as a potential food source. The director of the Spanish Riding
School was determined to save the breed and with the assistance
of General Patton of the United States Army, 250 Lipizzan
horses survived the war to serve as a founding stock so that
the breed could be preserved.
The first Lipizzan horses in the United States were given
to Opera singer Countess Maria Jeritza by the Austrian government
and imported in 1937. Eight years later, in 1945, the U.S.
Army Remount Service imported 9 Lipizzans (3 stallions and
6 mares, 1 in foal). But it was not until the late 1950's
that Lipizzan horses were imported from Austria to the U.S.
in any great numbers. Between 1958 and 1973, two breeders
imported 4 Lipizzan stallions and 21 mares (6 in foal) and
other importations have been taking place during the last
35 years to add to the American Lipizzan gene pool. The breed
is still extremely rare; only about 3,000 Lipizzan horses
exist worldwide and most of them are in Europe with the majority
in Austria that are bred at stud farms around Austria. Extreme
care is being taken by those involved in breeding Lipizzan
horses to insure that the purity of the breed is preserved.
If it had not been for General Patton, the Lipizzans might
not be in existence at all today.
In 1992, the Lipizzan Association of America joined the
Lipizzan Society of North America to form the Lipizzan Association
of North America (LANA). LANA is the American representative
to the Lipizzan International Federation (LIF) and is committed
to perpetuating and preserving the Lipizzan breed in the United
States. LANA follows the LIF criteria that defines a purebred
Lipizzan, which is a horse that can trace back, without interruption,
to the recognized lines and families of the official European
stud farms and their approved breeding stock. DNA technology
is used to identify equine parentage and provide information
for future genetic traits and disease diagnosis and no horse
will be registered unless the DNA results are filed with LANA.
LANA has also formed a separate division for registering Lipizzan
Partbreds where the Lipizzan portion of the pedigree must
trace, without interruption, to the recognized male lines
and female families of official European stud farms and their
approved breeding stock. Partbred horses or foals do not have
to be DNA'd but the purebred Lipizzan parent must have its
DNA on record.
The Lipizzan is a small horse that stands between 14.3 and
15.3 hands. The influence of the Arabian is seen in the usually
straight or slightly convex head, the small alert ears and
the large, appealing eyes. The neck is short, crested and
powerful, the back is broad and the overall picture is of
strength with well-rounded quarters, heavy shoulders and short,
strong legs with brilliant action. The mane and tail are thick
and long and the tail is carried high.
Gray dominates the Lipizzan breed today because white horses
were preferred by the royal Habsburg family. Grays are born
dark, black-brown, brown or mouse-gray and then the coat gradually
lightens until the white coat they are noted for appears between
the ages of 6 and 10 years old. But as late as 200 years ago,
many other colors existed; black, chestnut, dun, and even
piebald and skewbald. These non-white Lipizzans are a rarity
today and only in rare cases will the horse stay the same
dark color it was born.
But even with their small size, the breed tends to present
a very powerful image with compact, rectangular and highly
muscular bodies that are ideal for performing haute ecole
dressage and the physically demanding "Airs Above the Ground"
such as the levade and the capriole. These maneuvers have
now preserved as an equestrian art dating back over 400 years.
The art of dressage is combined with the close order military
drills of the ancient warriors and these spectacular leaps
and maneuvers were once used by riders in saddle to protect
and defend themselves on the battlefield and can be quite
intimidating even from a small horse. The Lipizzan has an
aptitude for dressage which is rather uncanny and is an unusually
talented equestrian athlete. A Lipizzan is distinctive for
being extraordinarily gentle, willing, and talented and intelligent.
Few people who watch the Lipizzan show realize how difficult
it is to work with stallions side by side or that are very
few breeds of horses in the world that are capable of performing
in this way. It is their amazing disposition that allows it,
however, the riders must be on their guard at all times because,
after all, they are still stallions and potentially volatile.
Author Resource:-> Crystal is a writer for www.HorseClicks.com,