The Lipizzan Horse
Much like Friesian horses, the Lipizzan horse is one of the most stunning breeds in today’s equine world. Due to their almost exclusive breeding for performance, these horses are incontestably the masters of classical dressage.
These horses were originally bred for military use and for riding schools catering for the noble. Their roots can be traced back to Spanish horses that were crossed with local stock in studs situated in Austria and in a town of Lipizza (now Lipica) in Slovenia.
Their mass breeding started in the 16th century but in 1920s Piber stud in Austria became the main stud for breeding these horses for use in Vienna. It is still the main supplier of horses for the world-famous Spanish Riding School of Vienna. During World War II Lipizzan horses of the Piber stud had to be evacuated and were later rescued by the Americans preventing them from being slaughtered for meat.
After the war Lipizzans returned home where the breeding continued. Their existence was threatened again in the 1980s as a viral outbreak occurred at the stud. Their number has since increased. Although they can be found all over the world, these horses are still considered a fairly rare and exclusive breed.
This breed matures later than most horse breeds and their training only starts when they are around four years of age. The training of classical dressage usually take approximately six years but this is compensated by their longevity.
These horses are characterised by a compact and muscular body which is classified as baroque-type build. Their appearance is perfect for performing dressage as their heads are long with large and expressive eyes.
Most of these horses are grey although some other colours do exist. In the early days of their breeding, their owners preferred this colour and thus other colours were bred out. Despite of this Lipizzan foals are born dark.
This horse breed has had a significant influence on equine society as it is the only breed native to Slovenian it is even featured in a coin. Due to their unbeatable history in classical dressage these horses are often considered the ultimate masters of performance.
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