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Lipizzan: The Miracle Horse
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Lipizzan: The Miracle Horse

     There are many horse enthusiasts that are familiar with dressage. The swift, easy movements of the horse almost as if it were a dance. What many may be less familiar with is classical dressage, and more importantly the horse that is famous for being trained in it. This is the Lipizzan or Lipizzaner horse, bred most notably in Austria, is closely associated with the Spanish Riding School which trains their beautiful grey stallions to dance through the air. It is one of the oldest breeds of horse in Europe. It originated in Lipica in 1580, which at the time was part of the Austrian Empire.

   A common myth is that of the color of the horses. Instead of white, they are actually grey. They usually start out as a foal of a bay or black color. As they age they begin to grey with their coats gradually turning lighter and lighter as they get older. However, earlier horses of the 18th century have been noted to be dun, bay, black as well as a few other colors. The stallions of the Spanish Riding School are all grey except for one who is bay. The grey colored was most favored by royalty.

   The horse has gone through a rather rough history nearly being extinct during the War of Coalition of 1797, World War I and even World War II. But thankfully through determined efforts through each hardship, the breed has persevered. They were moved several times from farm to farm in an effort to save them from extinction. The first move was in 1805 during an invasion by Napoleon. They were kept away from the stud farm for two years not returning until April of 1807. They were evacuated several more times until World War I when they were moved again, this time to Luxemburg and Kladrub. Then in World War II under the command of General George S. Patton efforts to rescue the horses from the war-torn country and return them home were made. This was known as “Operation Cowboy”. There were 350 horses that were moved by train from Hostau (the modern day Czech Republic) to U.S. occupied Bavaria in May of 1945. There they were returned to the rest of the horses.

   It seems nothing could destroy these horses and they truly were the miracle breed.


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  1. jst4horses
    The Lippizan was my favorite horse, beyond real American Mustangs (read the Wild Horse Conspiracy by Craig Downer, a former BLM Mustang expert). Few people know that in the ancient days the horses were bred, and as the knights who rode them chose new horses, they chose new apprentices, who took care of the recently weaned foals, mostly for the rest of their lives. The colts were chosen and assigned their apprentice, who often slept in a cot or on the straw right with the little horse. The horses took several years to train, and were not ridden until three to four years old, depending on the horse and its conditioning. While some of the groundwork was done as early as their first day, the formal riding did not begin until the horses were about five years old and fully able to carry the weight, on both their knees, and spines................During the period around the seventies, and again more recently in wars going on in the regions of the stud farms, international horse rescue persons raised money and bought beef, butchered, packaged, and frozen and traded it for the horses. The people were starving and would break in and steal the stud farm brood mares, studs, and foals to eat. To me the Lippizan is a symbol of what humans can be................we have turned them from war horses, to horses that dance and enthrall the world with their amazing performances. The first Medieval Times Restaurant was founded by a man who LOVED the Lippizan, he thought others would as well, and created an arena where people could come and dine and watch their formal performances. It did not make enough money to support the horses and vision. Lippizan America is now a new group that takes the horses across the country to performances and was stabled at a farm in N. Carolina. My son and his friend purchased the farm because they wanted to be able to watch the amazing horses. When they went to move in, they found the real estate agent had evicted the horses! They tried to get them to come back, but they already had a contract at another stable...............I was fortunate to go down and watch the Lippizan show train in the original Medieval times.......and when I was invited down to watch Lippizan America at a performance in S. California years later, I was invited to come to the ranch and would even be allowed to ride one.............at the moment I was just out of a vehicle accident and had a broken back........but they said, as soon as you are well, come on backside...................I must have read every training manual, and every book and seen every movie about these amazing horses tens of times over as a child...........how amazing just to go backside and get to pet them and watch their training.

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