The Lippizaner are among the most famous horses in the world. The performances at the Spanish Riding School in Vienna give them a large audience.

They are characterized by their white fur, athletic stature, and their great dressage traits.

Breed description

Lipizzan Horse Breed 7

Lippizaner are the oldest culture horse breed in the world. The elegant horses are noble horses based on baroque ideals. The breed standard is set by the world umbrella organization for Lippizaner breeding, the Lipizzan International Federation (L.I.F.).

There are different types of Lippizaner, depending on the breeding country. In Germany, the Lippizaner Zuchtverband Deutschland e.V. (LZD) sets the breeding standards.

The association is committed to the conservation of this endangered species. Worldwide there are only around 3,000 to 4,000 animals, in Europe around 400 animals.

Size: 153-165 cm
Weight: 560 – 660 kg
Origin: Slovenia
Lifespan: 25-30 years
Color: Gray, black, brown
Dressage, free time

Origin and breed history

Lippizaner are named after the place Lipica in Slovenia. Archduke Charles II of Austria bought the place in 1580 in order to set up a horse breeding facility there. He wanted his own breeding for show horses at the imperial court in Vienna.

Until then, show horses were imported from Spain, which was expensive. The Lippizaner originated from a cross between Arabs, Berbers, and the Spanish horses that Ferdinand I brought from Spain to Austria.

Originally the Lippizaner were called “Spanish Karster”. In the Slovenian Karst region, the horses had to be frugal and tough, because nature is barren and rough. The Lippizaner still have this characteristic today. The characteristics of the strong, persistent Lippizaner quickly convinced the military.

There they were used as mounts and helpers. Their beauty and docility made them popular with the nobility. Carriages with several Lipizzans demonstrated wealth and power.

The horses became well known through the Spanish Riding School in Vienna, which was founded in 1729. Throughout their history, breeders have adapted the horses according to their fashionable preferences.

Italian, Spanish, Arab, Danish, and Czech horse breeds were crossed in order to obtain certain characteristics. During the Napoleonic Wars, the stud had to be relocated to Mezöhegyes in Hungary in 1809.

After several years only a part of the Lippizaner returned to Slovenia. The other part founded the Hungarian breed, from which the Romanian arose. The Romanian state stud Simbata de Jos-Fagaras is the largest Lippizaner breed in the world.

The horses also had to flee Lipica during the First World War. In 1915 the young horses came to Kladrub in Bohemia. There they founded what is now the Slovak State Stud Topolcianky. After the First World War, the area around Lipica fell to Italy.

Half of the horses returned to Lipica. In 1946 the Italians founded their own breed in Monterotondo. The remaining breeding animals of the Lippizaner were moved to Piber in Styria, where the main place for breeding the Lippizaner is still today.

Due to the division into the different countries, there is no uniform appearance and character of the Lippizaner. Hungarian Lippizaner horses are larger than average and are bred to be carriage horses.

Romanian Lippizaner are very tough and persistent, but also stubborn and insensitive. The Slovak breed tries to keep the old type and to produce a good riding and driving horse.

The Italian breeding of the Lippizaner is considered to be particularly pure-blood because the horses living today can almost without exception be traced back to Lipica.

The Austrian breed wants to keep the baroque type and produce horses with a talent for the “high school”. They are required for the riding school in Vienna.

The appearance of the Lipizzaner

The description is limited to the standards set by the Lippizaner Zuchtverband Deutschland. This is part of the international standard.

The Lippizaner should have a frame that is as square as possible. This means that the height from the hoof to the withers and the distance from fore to hindquarters should be about the same.

Rectangular frames are more common. The height is between 153 and 158 cm. The late developers achieve this at the earliest when they are four years old. The legs are relatively short. Typical for the Lippizaner is the excessive knee action and the exalted gait manner.

It is important for the elegance, harmony, and beauty of the parade step. “Paddling” on both sides with the front legs is also typical of the breed. The step of a Lipizzaner is energetic, tactful, elastic, and expansive.

The medium-sized warm blood is strong and compact. The saddle position is clearly pronounced. The withers are prominent and reach far into the back. The back is broad and muscular, the chest-deep and wide. The neck corresponds to the ideals of the baroque.

He is of medium length with well-developed muscles and a raised posture. The neck is set high and shows a nicely curved topline. The expressive head of the Lippizaner is elongated. He has a broad, flat forehead, a finely chiselled jaw, and a straight or slightly convex nose line.

The head often shows a ram shape, but this is not desired. The nostrils are wide, the ears small. The beautiful eyes are big and black. Lippizans are predominantly mold. But you can also see brown, red-brown, and black horses.

The foals are black or brown. They do not develop the white color until they are four to ten years old. The tail and mane are fine-haired and not too lush, which emphasizes the elegant character of the horses.

Temperament and essence

Lippizans are considered to be more sensitive than other horse breeds. They show their noble ancestry not only in appearance. You have pronounced self-will and pride. For you, this means a challenge, because they are quite spirited.

They are reserved towards strangers. They only gradually build trust in a new owner. The Lippizaners are very intelligent.

They learn quickly, but they also remember negative experiences. Once you have established a connection with your horse, a Lippizaner is loyal, courageous, and obedient.

Lippizans prefer one person to focus on. They adhere to them firmly, are affectionate and one hundred percent reliable. They are frugal horses, persevering, strong, and willing to work.

Husbandry and nutrition

Lippizans are late-developing species that require a long rearing time. At the Vienna Riding School, the “Kaiserschimmel” horses begin their training at the age of four.

The saddle is not put on them until three months later. That is probably one reason why Lippizans are so rare. Many horse lovers want a horse that they can get started with right away. With a Lippizaner you will need time and patience before you can ride it properly.

But the effort is worth it, with a Lippizaner you have a special pet. Apart from that, they are frugal and uncomplicated. Too much-concentrated feed and nutrient-rich pastures lead to obesity.

The diet depends on how you use the horse. If you use the Lippizaner as an active sport horse, it needs more food.

Even if you use it as a recreational horse, the Lippizaner should get enough exercise. The animals feel most comfortable when they stand in a large paddock during the day.

Education and care

Lipizzan Horse Breed 8

The sensitive and headstrong Lippizaner needs an experienced hand. This horse is unsuitable for beginners. Before you can work with a Lippizaner, you need to build a relationship of trust.

They don’t put up with everything and remember negative experiences. If you are ready to respond to the horse’s personality, you can find a loyal, extremely docile and easy-going partner.

The fastest way to advance a Lippizaner is through a fair, consistent, and patient upbringing. The Lippizaner bred for dressage have a high level of intelligence and thirst for knowledge.

You should encourage these abilities with demanding training in order to utilize the horse to the full. Through centuries of selection, the Lippizaner bring with them a great ability and willingness to gather. It is difficult for them to be relaxed.

But you should take them into account in your training so that you can ride a balanced leisure horse. Lippizaner horses are bred for dressage. If that is your passion, you will find a docile horse in the Lippizaner.

You can also use the Lippizaner as a carriage horse or ride in the terrain. Due to their building, they are not suitable for jumping. But they are occasionally available for a jump. After all, they inspire the audience at demonstrations with the caper.

Lipizzaners also find it difficult to ride westerns because their necks are too upright for that. You should take care of your Lippizaner before and after work.

In addition to cleaning, grooming also has a social aspect. Your Lippizaner enjoys the massage and being close to you. This is how you strengthen your connection.

With the right equipment, you can keep your horse healthy. At the same time, you will discover any changes to your Lippizaner.

In this way, you can identify and treat injuries, swellings, or other behavior at an early stage.

Health and Typical Diseases

Lippizaner are among the toughest horse breeds in the world. They are not susceptible to diseases and do not show any breed typical of diseases.

Due to their typical sequence of movements, tendons and ligaments are more likely to show signs of wear and tear. The animals can also suffer from osteoarthritis.

The life expectancy of the Lippizaner

Lippizans are long-lived. With good care and maintenance, they can reach the age of 25 to 30 years.

The stallion Nima I celebrated his 40th birthday in 2019 at the Spanish Riding School in Vienna.

Buy Lippizaner horse breed

There are around 150 private breeders in Europe. Most of them are enthusiasts, so only a few horses are for sale each year. More often you can buy young horses from Croatia, Slovenia or Hungary.

The Lippizaner Zuchtverband Deutschland e.V. informs and advises you if you are considering buying a Lippizaner. If offspring are to be submitted from within the ranks, this is stated on the association’s website.

In addition to buying from private individuals, you can also buy Lippizaner from state studs in Austria, Hungary, or Slovenia. These give away animals every year.

The big studs keep the best horses to themselves, of course, while private individuals like to sell the best horses. Space reasons or the downsizing of a breed for reasons of age or health are responsible for this.

The horses from large stud farms are suitable as leisure horses. But if you value special selection, you can find your horse with private individuals. Foals from Hungary or Slovenia cost from $2500. Broken, adult horses reach prices of up to $45,000.

Decision support

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If you have experience with horses and want to buy an extraordinary horse, the Lippizaner can be something for you. You should be of solid character and well-balanced to get along with this lively horse.

If you decide on a young horse, you know that you have to invest a lot of time in training this sensitive horse. In addition, the young horses do not give any inkling of the beauty they will show in later years.

If you value certain characteristics, you should find someone who knows the breed who can advise you on the purchase. Ordinary horse lovers cannot predict the development of these particular horses.

You can only ride Lippizaner when you are four or five years old. If you are ready to get involved intensively with your Lippizaner, you will find a friend for life. Lippizans are affectionate and like being close to people.

They prefer to be tied to just one person. This also requires you to invest a lot of time.

A Lippizaner is not happy if you visit him only once a week. It is best to keep yourself busy with your horse every day.