History of Lipizzans

The long and varied history of the Lipica Stud Farm started in 1580, when Habsburg Archduke Charles II, son of Habsburg Emperor Ferdinand I, purchased the Lipica estate. His aim was to ensure a large supply of horses for his court.

The Spanish horses were especially valued at that time, and with its climate and land, the Karst stood out as a province similar to Spain, so it is not surprising that Habsburg Archduke Charles II chose the summer residence of the Bishop of Trieste in Lipica as the new location for the imperial stud farm. He signed the purchase contract on 19 May 1580. This day is considered to be the day of the establishment of the Lipica Stud Farm and the date of the beginning of the breeding of the Lipizzan horse breed.

The Karst horses were extremely popular long before the establishment of the stud farm. They were appreciated for their endurance and they were very suitable for carriage-driving and long-distance riding. They have been famous since Roman times. Historical sources state that every year, a white horse was sent from the Karst to Diomedes' sanctuary at the source of the Timava river and donated to Neptune. It is said that Dionysius himself, the ruler of Sicily, bought horses from the Karst land.

Shortly after the establishment of the stud farm, in 1581, the Archduke bought twenty-four breeding mares and six stallions in Spain. When the renovation of the estate was completed in 1585, the first administrator of the stud farm, Franc Jurko, informed him that the stud farm was ready for further work.

In the following decades, the Karst horses in Lipica were crossbred with Spanish, Italian and Arabian horses. Thus the Lipizzan horse breed was created over two centuries. It was named after Lipica, which was in turn named after a tree - a linden tree that grew on the top of the Lipica hill centuries ago.

Six classical lines of Lipizzan stallions

Over the centuries, six classical lines based on the six original stallions were preserved. Their names are Conversano, Neapolitano, Favory, Maestoso, Pluto and Siglavy.

Conversano was a Neapolitan dark brown stallion that was born in 1767 in Italy.

Neapolitano was a Neapolitan brown stallion that was born in Italy in 1790.

Favory was an Andalusian brown stallion that was born in Kladrub in 1779.

Maestoso was an Andalusian grey stallion that was born in Kladrub in 1773.

Pluto was a Danish grey stallion that was born in 1765 at the Royal Stud Farm of Frederiksborg.

Siglavy was an Arabian grey stallion that was born in 1810 in Arabia.

18 families of Lipizzan mares were also formed.

Stallions for the Spanish Riding School in Vienna

The nobility, elegance and power of the Lipizzan horses were co-created by the unique cultural landscape of the Lipica estate and the climate of the Karst. At the same time, the development of the Lipizzan breed is closely linked to the development of the art of classical dressage. The development of classical dressage, as it is known today, can be traced back to the 16th century. At the Spanish Riding School in Vienna, which was established 1565, classical dressage was developed and has been preserved until today. It is referred to as Spanish, because only horses from Spain were used at first, though Lipizzan stallions from the Lipica Stud Farm soon replaced them.

The Lipica Stud Farm has been breeding Lipizzan stallions for the Spanish Riding School in Vienna and the Vienna Court for centuries. In its long history, it has experienced both good and bad times. During the wars, the Lipizzans were evacuated five times – the first time on March 22, 1797, when a herd of more than three hundred Lipizzan horses was protected from the arrival of Napoleon's army. The Lipizzans were taken all the way to Székesfehérvár in Hungary and they did not return until 17 October 1797.

In 1805, due to the Napoleonic Wars, they were moved to safety in Đakovo in Slavonia and returned after 1807. After the Peace of Schönbrunn in 1809, Trieste and Carniola, including Lipica, were annexed by France, so the Austrian Empire evacuated the Lipizzans again. This time, a herd of 289 horses was moved from Lipica to Pécsko near Mezőhegyes in Hungary. They arrived there on June 27, 1809, and remained in Hungary until 1815.

During the French administration of the stud farm, the herd of Lipizzans was decimated by diseases and epidemics. During the Napoleonic Wars, the original pedigree books and all the documentation of the stud farm were destroyed or lost. Since Lipica was far from the capital and since the costs of breeding in the Karst were high, it was proposed to move the stud farm closer to Vienna, but Emperor Franz Joseph I decided in 1848 to keep the Lipica Stud Farm at its historic location.

Thus, Lipica used to breed the Lipizzan stallions for the Spanish Riding School in Vienna and for the Habsburg court until the beginning of World War I in 1914. After the end of World War I, the western territory of today’s Republic of Slovenia, where Lipica is located, became part of Italy, and the important historical connection between Lipica and the Spanish Riding School was brought to an end.

Austria began breeding Lipizzan stallions for the Spanish Riding School at the Piber Stud Farm. However, the Lipica Stud Farm continued to breed the Lipizzan horses under Italian rule until World War II. In 1943, the Lipizzans from Lipica were evacuated to Hostoun in Chechia, where they were kept until the end of the war.

In 1947, Lipica became part of the Republic of Yugoslavia. Of the former herd, only eleven Lipizzan horses returned to the stud farm, but with great effort, Lipica was eventually able to restore breeding. In the 60s and 70s, the stud farm developed its own Classical Riding School, with breath-taking elements “on the ground” and “in the air”, performing all over the world.

Today, Lipica is one of the most important cultural and historical monuments of Slovenia and home to over 300 Lipizzan horses. With the guided tours, the presentation of classical dressage, official training, carriage rides, horseback riding lessons and family experiences, Lipica attracts visitors from all over the world to its green estate.

The traditional breeding of Lipizzan horses is an exceptional cultural heritage of mankind, which is why European state stud farms - with Lipica as their leading partner - want to include it in the Representative List of the Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity of the UNESCO organization.

Stud Farm Lipica

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