The Lippizan (or Lippizaner) is a horse renowned for it’s smooth grace when it performs before people at the Spanish Riding School. With great leaps and bounds in the air it seems to be suspended by nothing. It’s beautiful elastic trot makes it seem suspended by air. And last but not least, it’s noble bearing makes it a lovely sight to all who see it.
The Lippizan has a rich and varied history. It’s ancestors traced back to A.D. 800. In the 7th century the Spaniards horses were cross-bred with Barb horses. This resulted in the Andalusian horse and other Spanish breeds. In the 16th century when the Habsburgs ruled Spain and Austria, they desired a fast, agile, beautiful horse for use in the military and the quickly growing, fashionable riding schools scattered across Europe. After careful cross-breeding using the Andalusian and other such horses, the result was the Lippizan – the perfect breed to suit the demands of 16th century Europe. In World War II the Lippizan was threatened by the war and they almost went extinct. Hope was not lost though. General Patton of the U.S.A. army rescued the Spanish Riding Schools stallions and went on to rescue the mares that had been moved to Czechoslovakia for their safety. The Spanish Riding School convinced him by putting on an impromptu performance on the lawn of the mansion they were staying at! Since Patton loved horses, he was easily convinced.
Nowadays the Spanish Riding School is still located in Austria, delighting both young and old as the stallions (no mares are used) leap and canter to the stirring music.