Tuesday, October 06, 2009

Temptation Tuesday: Lipizzaner Stallions

Michelle Styles reveals the temptation of a well schooled white horse.

There is something about a horse, particularly white horses who are so well trained that they can dance.
As a girl I first became aware of the Lipizzaner horses through the Disney movie The Miracle of the White Stallions which recounts the true story of how General Patton saved the breed from near certain destruction at the end of World War 2.
The horses also feature in the Mary Stewart novel Airs Above Ground.

There is just something magical about the way they move and the respond to the rider. They appear to be creatures out of a fairy tale. However, many of the moves were developed for military purposes and the ability to perform those moves is a result of highly schooled and intelligent horses working with dedicated men and women. It i
Lipizzan are not born white (or more accurately gray) but black or bay. They become lighter as they grow older. Often not getting their full colouring until they are 6-10 years old. Lipizzan are long lived. Some even reach 40. They spend their first years in pasture and do not start being schooled until they are about 3. It is the stallions who preform the complicated dressage, rather than the mares.

They are called Lipizzan after the town Lipica in Solvenia where the first stud was established. The blood lines are carefully controlled. The horses are given two names. The first is the stallion's bloodline and the second gives the mare's name.

The most famous place for Lipizzans to perform is the Spanish Riding School of Vienna. It totally threw me as a young girl as I was aware that Vienna was in Austria. So where did Spain fit in? The name Spanish Riding School of Vienna recognises that the breeding stock originally came from Spanish Andalucia. The School was established by the Austro-Hungarian Emperor in 1572 and 1735, they began to preform in the Winter Riding School in Vienna. It is still possible to see performances there.

Thankfully, the Spanish Riding School does tour the world and it is possible to see the horses perform closer to home. The following youtube video explains the various moves and gives a glimpse of the horses in action. But really they do have to be seen in person to be fully appreciated.

When not admiring horses, Michelle Styles is busy getting ready for the publication of her next novel -- The Viking Captive Princess (publication Dec 2009) and trying to make her deadline for the next book.


  1. Ooh, I loved Airs Above the Ground. Loved Mary Stewart full stop. And as a horse loving teenager, I loved the horses as well. :-)
    Great post Michelle.

  2. Oh good,Jackie, I am pleased someone else understnads the temptation. I adored Mary Stewart. Airs Above Ground is one of my faves.

  3. Well done. I narrate the "World Famous" Lipizzaner show, and the Spanish Riding School, when they cross the the pond to the US. Your info is accurate, and I am thrilled so many people still adore these horses. If you make it to one our shows, please say hello! To view our tour schedule please visit, www.lipizzaner.com.
    Troy Tinker

  4. Troy --
    Thanks for stopping and giving the website where people can find out tour dates! It is a fantastic show of highly skilled horsemanship and demonstrates what rider and horse can do -- while looking like they are striaght from a fairytale.

  5. Well, it is rare I like a post on here more than one featuring pics of Hugh Jackman, but wow! Loved the youtube clip. As an amateur dressage rider, who is at moment trying to teach her horse half passes and passage, watching these horses is like a dream! Looks so easy but is SO hard!