Just like the Friesian is known for being the black beauty of the equine breeds, the Lipizzaner is known for its glistening pale coat and incredible grace at performing amazing high school dressage. If you grew up a horse lover, chances are you may even know a bit about their history from Disney’s classic Miracle Of The White Stallions. But how much do you really know? Check out these fun facts about the stellar Lipizzan.
1 – A horse for royalty By the sixteenth century, when the Habsburgs ruled both Spain and Austria, a powerful but agile horse was desired both for military uses and for use in the fashionable and rapidly growing riding schools for the nobility of central Europe. Therefore, in 1562, the Habsburg Emperor Maximillian II brought the Spanish Andalusian horse to Austria and founded the court stud at Kladrub.
In 1580, his brother, Archduke Charles II, ruler of Inner Austria, established a similar stud at Lipizza (now Lipica), located in modern-day Slovenia, from which the breed obtained its name. When the stud farm was established, Lipizza was located within the municipal limits of Trieste, an autonomous city under Habsburg sovereignty. The name of the village itself derives from the Slovene word lipa, meaning “linden tree.”
2 – They are grey, not white As many may know, the Lipizzan is gray, not white. What many don’t know is that they are born dark and gradually lighten with age, not achieving the “white” coat for which they are known until around 6-10 years of age.
3 – Lippizans used to come in many colors Just 200 years ago, according to the Lipizzan Association of North America, you could find black, brown, chestnut, dun, piebald and skewbald Lipizzans. Today, they still get a black or a brown every once in a while. (lipizzan.org)
4 – A very rare breed According to the Lipizzan International Federation, there are only 10,000 Lipizzaner on four continents (Europe, America, Africa and Australia).
5 – Stallion Dynasties There are eight foundation stallions that the various registries recognize. They do not all recognize all eight. Six of them are from the original Lipizza stud farm lines. Those six stallions were not all gray. Pluto, one of the most famous, Maestoso, and Siglavy were indeed gray. However, Conversano was black, Favory was dun, and Neapolitano was bay. The other two came from outside lines from other Eastern European countries.
6 – The Name Game Lipizzaner have very specific registration guidelines when it comes to their names. Male horses (stallions or geldings) must have the name of the foundation stallion as the first word in their name. For the second, the name of the dam. For mares, names should end in “a.” And what happens with duplicates? Roman Numerals are assigned to distinguish between horses. Half-Lippizzan mares are not allowed to use traditional Lippizan names or roman numerals.