THE LIPIZZANER - Horse breeds, horse breeding and types of horse.   
[Index of Horse Breeds] [Equiworld Horse Magazine]


Neopolitano Fantasia - 69 (Piber) owned by Una Harley
Neapolitano Fantasia-69 (Piber)
owned by Una Harley of Starrock Stud


Neopolitano Inka-LSGB 38
Neopolitano Inka-LSGB 38
Photography by Alan Thomas

The Lipizzaner Horse's ancestors can be traced back to 800AD. They were Berber horses brought to Spain by the Moors from North Africa via Gibraltar. These Berber horses were then crossed with Karst horses as used by the ancient Romans for chariot racing and other sports, as well as being used as war horses in the Middle Ages.

In 1580 Archduke Charles II, the son of the Austrian Emperor Ferdinand I was given the task of founding a stud to provide the Austrian Court with the finest horses possible. He chose a derelict village near Trieste, named LIPIZZA (modern spelling Lipica) - hence the breed name - LIPIZZANER!

He originally bought 24 mares and 9 stallions from Spain - hence the name The SPANISH Riding School of Vienna! The Spanish horses were crossed with very carefully selected Karst mares. As with most breeds, pure desert Arab blood was also used.

There are six foundation stallions of the pure baroque Lipizzaner, each passing on very distinct characteristics, clearly visible in each of their descendants even to this day.

PLUTO - white - born 1765, pure Spanish from Royal Danish Stud

CONVERSANO - black - born 1767, original Neapolitan.

MAESTOSO - white - born 1773, from the Austrian Court Stud, Kladrub.

FAVORY - dun - born 1779, from the Austrian Court Stud, Kladrub.

NEAPOLITANO - bay - born 1790, Neapolitan from Polesina

SIGLAVY - white - born 1810, Original Arab from Arabia

The Stud at Lipica survived many wars and revolutions, and even an earthquake, although the horses had to be evacuated many times. However after World War I, in 1920 the Stud was finally moved to Piber, a tiny village in the mountains of Styria, Lower Austria, which had been used for horse breeding since 1798. The Austrian State Stud at Piber supply all the Dancing White Stallions used in the Spanish Riding School in Vienna today.

Bundesgestut Piber

Lipizzaner horses are now found in many countries, including Hungary, Czechoslovakia, Romania, Slovania (the old premises at Lipica). There are approximately 100 Lippizzaners in Great Britain.

Breed description:

Colour - mainly grey ie. pure white. Sometimes brown or even black. Lipizzaner foals are always born dark colored, and gradually, with each change of coat, go lighter, until by the age of 4-10 years usually 7 years, they are pure white. However about one in 200 remain brown or black.

Mares and Foals at Starrock Stud
Mares and foals at Starrock Stud

Size - 1.55m - 1.58m (15.0hh - 15.3hh)

Mares usually smaller than stallions when fully matured.


Conversano Galanta-35 (Piber)
Conversano Galanta-35 (Piber)
owned by Una Harley, Starrock Stud

A rectangular horse, with a long, powerful back, a muscular croup, a low, but well-defined wither. A powerful neck with a well set on head and clean throat. The chest is wide and deep, and a good deep girth giving good heart and lung room. The shoulder is often a little straight and short, the legs are relatively short with strong tendons and 210-230 cm (8"-9") of excellent dense bone. Although sometimes rather upright pastems on the front legs, they are very supple. Always very good feet.

Due to the Arab and Karst blood, Lipizzaners almost always remain sound to the end of their long lifespan, often remaining fit to work until 25-30 years. The main and tail are usually sparse and fine, with the exception of the Siglavy Line, which often inherits the long, fine mane and tail of its Arab ancestors. Tail is set high and carried well.

Head - The head is quite large with varying degrees of convex nose according to which male line descended from. Eyes are large, kind, intelligent and lively.

Action - The Lipizzaner action is lively, with high knee and hock action.

Uses - Although, historically, the Lipizzaner is a carriage horse, and a dressage horse, especially famous for the 'Airs above the Ground' as performed at the Spanish Riding School in Vienna - it is also used in many countries for trial driving, endurance (long distance) riding, showjumping and a few are in circuses.

Temperament - Exceptionally kind, intelligent, willing and quick to learn. A very slow maturing breed, often not reaching full maturity until seven years of age, therefore it is important not to start working them too young.

The Lipizzaner Society of Great Britain All the information and photographs for this section were kindly provided by the Lipizzaner Society of Great Britain. For further information on the Lipizzaner please click here
Back to the Breeds  Index