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.
Size - 1.55m - 1.58m (15.0hh - 15.3hh)
Mares usually smaller than stallions when fully matured.
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.