20 June 2020
Lippizan Stud Farm at Piber Centenary
he Lipizzan or Lipizzaner is a breed of horse named for the Lipica stud farm now in Slovenia, and closely associated with the Spanish Riding School of Vienna, Austria, where they demonstrate the haute école or “high school” movements of classical dressage, including the highly controlled, stylized jumps and other movements known as the “airs above the ground.” The horses at the Spanish Riding School are trained using traditional methods that date back hundreds of years, based on the principles of classical dressage.
The Lipizzan breed dates back to the 16th century, when it was developed with the support of the Habsburg nobility. The breed takes its name from one of the earliest stud farms established, located near the village of Lipica (spelled “Lipizza” in Italian), in modern-day Slovenia. The breed has been endangered numerous times by warfare sweeping Europe, including during the War of the First Coalition, World War I, and World War II. The rescue of the Lipizzans during World War II by American troops was made famous by the Disney movie Miracle of the White Stallions. The breed has also starred or played supporting roles in many movies, TV shows, books, and other media.
Today, eight stallions are recognized as the foundation bloodstock of the breed, all foaled the late 18th and early 19th centuries. All modern Lipizzans trace their bloodlines to these eight stallions, and all breeding stallions have included in their name the name of the foundation sire of their bloodline. Also classic mare lines are known, with up to 35 recognized by various breed registries. The majority of horses are registered through the member organizations of the Lipizzan International Federation, which covers almost 11,000 horses in 19 countries and at 9 state studs in Europe. Most Lipizzans reside in Europe, with smaller numbers in the Americas, Africa, and Australia. Generally gray in color, the Lipizzan is a muscular breed that matures slowly and is long-lived.
The Piber Federal Stud (Bundesgestüt Piber) is a stud farm dedicated to the breeding of Lipizzan horses, located at the village of Piber, near the town of Köflach in western Styria, Austria. It was founded in 1798, began breeding Lipizzan horses in 1920, and today is the primary breeding farm that produces the stallions used by the Spanish Riding School, where the best stallions of each generation bred at Piber are brought for training and later public performance. One of Piber’s major objectives is “to uphold a substantial part of Austria’s cultural heritage and to preserve one of the best and most beautiful horse breeds in its original form.”