Lipizzaner is the oldest of the European horse breeds and
its documented origins trace back over 400 years.
ancestors of this, the most noble of horses, include the
chariot horses of Hittites who are portrayed in the frieze
on the Parthenon in Athens,the stallions Aquileia and the
Quadriga horses of the Romans.
Eastern horses of Arabia have also played a vital role as
have the Berbers, the Iberian breeds, the Castilians, the
Andalusians, the Villanos, the Neapolitans and of course
the hardy horses of the Karst.
of these ancient breeds have contributed in producing the
Imperial Horse of Kings and Emperors, named by many as the
Horse of the Gods - The Lipizzaner.
prehistoric times, Spain possessed outstanding well gaited
horses with oriental blood running in their veins. These
horses, were the Iberians, the forebears of the Andalusian.
These tough Iberian horses were held in high esteem by the
Greeks and Romans as swift and fleet footed competitors
groomed for victory at their important games and races.
A variation of which has come down through time to us today
and is known now as the Olympic Games.
fine horses were used by the French Court whose stable master
wrote of them in 1664 - 'They are extremely fine horses,
the most suited of all breeds to stand as models to a skilled
painter or serve a king as his favourite steed. Neither
as light as the Berber nor as heavy as the Neapolitan, they
possess the best qualities of both breeds……
The Straights of Gibraltar divide Europe from Africa and
the Berber developed on the African side of the Straights
as the native breed of that continent. Developed from the
Numidian Horse which was descended from the original African
breed brought eastwards in the seventh century and then
refined by the Arabs, the Berber greatly influenced the
development of the Iberian Horse.
Berber in its original form - roman nose, long ears,
short thick neck, coarse mane and tail, thick set croup
and ungainly dock - has died out but through the Andalusian
it has left the Lipizzaner genetically coded with traces
of all of these attributes but more especially with one
of the most pronounced features of the breed, the roman
nose. All Lipizzaners carry this gene and even though in
these modern times a more attractive head is sought, the
legacy of the Iberian still runs in its veins. Through the
centuries, with the exception of the Arab Siglavy Dynasty,
the Lipizzaner still carries a little bit of Africa with
the eighth century, the Moors introduced further Arab blood
into the Iberian horse breed. These Muslim conquerors wished
to improve the endurance qualities of their light oriental
breeds as they demanded mounts able to withstand many attacks
from the heavier horses of the Christian knights. Conversely,
the Christians wanted to improve the more cumbersome aspects
of their mounts and sought to infuse some lighter more agile
GENETTE & THE VILLANOS
while the oriental Genette was regarded as the lighter Spanish
mount, the Northern Villanos with its heavier build was
capable of carrying a knight in battle.The uniting of both
of these old bloodlines produced elegance, strength, endurance
and patience coupled with a naturally high action known
as the Spanish Step.
so began the birth of the Andalusian.Elegant and showy,
with noble head and beautifully curved neck, the Andalusian
became the show horse of its time. With its loose gait,
pliant strong limbs and dancing movements, the Andalusian
possessed a fiery temperament coupled with a docile attitude
and it was obedient and highly trainable.
Lipizzaner has inherited all of those characteristics which
have made it the magnificent creature of elegance and hardiness
it is today.
Andalusian no longer exists in its original form which reached
its zenith in the fifteenth and sixteenth centuries. From
that time on, the breeding of the Andalusian gradually declined.
the Carthusian Monks of the time opposed all forms of cross
breeding and because of their strong and demanding views,
we still today have the pure blooded Andalusian in areas
which used to surround the old monastery in the province
of Cordoba and also in Seville and Cadiz. To this day, these
areas still form the centre of Andalusian breeding.
old breed is known as Cartujanos (Carthusians). Along with
the modern Andalusian they have been accepted as the nearest
relatives of the oldest breed in the stud books - the
Pura raza espanola..
this, the 21st century, the noble attributes
and high actions of these forbears have been imparted to
the Andalusian and its close cousin the Lusitano of Portugal.
All of these attributes are a constant reminder to us that
the three noble breeds as we know them today, the Lipizzaner,
the Andalusian and the Lusitano, are still closely related
and the same blood runs in their veins as did many centuries
Arab Horse has been influential in the development of the
Lipizzaner not only through the Andalusian but also through
the Neapolitan lines.
as you the reader are now doubt aware, a much more direct
cross took place at a later time in history. The Arab was,
and still is, considered to be the natural source of new,
quality bloodlines when a breed is in need of 'vitalising
is written in the Koran:
the Creator wished to create the horse, he said to the Wind,
I shall have thee bear a being who shall carry my worshippers.
This being shall be loved and regarded by all my slaves.
It shall be feared by all who fail to heed my commandments.
And he created the horse and I said to it, I have made thee
without equal. All the treasures of the earth lay between
thine eyes. Thou shall cast mine enemies beneath thy hooves,
but my friends thou shalt bear on thy back. This shall be
the seat from which prayers ascend to me. Over the whole
earth thou shalt be fortunate and preferred before all other
creatures. In thee shall be the love of the Lord of the
Earth. Thou shalt fly without wings and conquer without
these words were recounted by countless generations in the
Bedouin tents, they grew up honouring the steed of Ishmael,
son of Abraham - The Arab Horse.
Muslim invaders entered Europe in July 711. Under the command
of Tariq, 25,000 men and their horses crossed over and took
possession of a Spanish Rock which was later to be named
wish of Mohammed was only brought to a halt in 732 A.D.
during the battles of Tours and Poitiers in the centre of
Arab Horse is unequalled for it beauty and harmonious movements,
being fleet of foot and fiery of temperament, it is elegance
in motion. It is possessed of good health and longevity
combined with excellent fertility. Its endurance capabilities
are without question. In a competition with the English
Thoroughbred it covered just under 90 miles from Cairo to
Suez and then back again in eight hours. The Arab was fresh
after this gruelling test whilst the thoroughbred had collapsed
on the way.
the criteria for the breeding of the Arab Horse is still
purity of bloodlines, speed and endurance. The infusion
of this noble blood into the aristocratic Lipizzaner is
like the meeting of great minds and bodies.. PERFECTION…
of the most important Arabs introduced into the Lipizzaner
bloodlines was named Vezir. He was the property of Napoleon
and was one of his favourite mounts. Between 1807 and 1816,
seven other Arab stallions arrived at Lipizza with Siglavy
being the most outstanding. In 1843, two more Arabians were
introduced and later on several more were purchased. Arab
mares were also purchased in order to introduce fresh blood
into the Lipizzaner lines.
EMPEROR FRANZ JOSEPH
In 1856 Emperor Franz Joseph sent a commission to Arabia
to purchase a herd of sixteen stallions, fifty mares and
fourteen foals. Two stallions and sixteen mares went on
Franz Joseph was crowned King of the Magyars on 8th June
1867. He took the oath on the back of Lipizzaner Stallion
The stud tried breeding pure bred Arabs in addition to Lipizzaners
but the Imperial Court was not satisfied with them and it
was decided that the Arab stallions would only be cross
bred with Lipizzaner mares.
The Neapolitan had an important influence on the development
of the Lipizzaner. This breed was much praised and revered
by the Romans. In later centuries the Medici merchants imported
the best Arabs from Syria to improve the breed. Andalusians
were also used.
Neapolitan horses were considered to be the best in all
of Italy. They possessed docile natures combined with fiery
elegance and were extensively used for carriage and ridden
Neapolitan was at the peak of its success in the 17th
century. The high bend of the knee made it an ideal choice
for haute ecole and its elegance made it the ideal choice
for conveying princes and cardinals in stately coaches.
wars coupled with erroneous breeding ( Nordic strains were
used unsuccessfully) led to a slow but steady decline in
the Italian bloodlines. Now, in the 20/21st century,
the purebred Neapolitan no longer exists.
the breeds we have already mentioned have contributed greatly
towards the development of the Lipizzaner, the core of the
breed still lay with the native Karst Horse. Horses had
been bred on the Karst, an area around Trieste, for centuries
and they were much in demand for their dexterity and endurance
qualities. They were raised under totally natural conditions.
Winter and Summer they lived outside. When there was insufficient
pasture, they were given hay. In exceptionally bad conditions,
they were sheltered under slab stone roofs.
the middle of the nineteenth century, a Karst Horse Fair
was held annually on 24th June - St John The
Baptist Day - at Stivan near Prestranek and peole came from
far and wide to buy and sell.
horses, whose precise origins are not known but who were
believed to have been used by the Romans for their chariot
races in Ancient Rome, originated mostly from Aquileia,
a city on the Northern edge of the Adriatic in a region
known in those times as Thrace. There is believed to have
been a temple in the region dedicated to the Thracian God
Diomedes, patron of horses.
Thracian horses were renowned for their speed and beauty.
Thrace is were the spotted and piebald horses so well depicted
in Hamilton's famous painting, originated from.
Romans used these horses extensively for crossbreeding with
their existing horses and soon there were horses carrying
Karst blood swarming throughout Europe, carrying the conquering
Roman Army to victory after victory.
Romans and the Greeks, who were particularly careful about
maintaining purity of the breed for their sacred games and
of course for war, kept extensive breed records.
brands distinguished between the individual families.
The colour white had always been of special significance
from earliest recorded times. White horses were dedicated
to the Gods and drew the chariots of the kings as symbols
of peace and fairness.
principles of breeding according to the Romans, were careful
choice of female lines, sires possessed of great stamina
and courage, accurately recorded family trees, careful location
of the breeding centres and a continual strengthening of
the breed by selection of the best from the best.
principles are as important today as they were then.
Romans, once they discovered the useful, vitalising qualities
of the Karstland, systematically set about breeding from
the Karst Horse. A breed admired down the ages for its stamina,
strength, courage and toughness.
the middle ages Karst Horses , because of their outstanding
qualities, were expensive. They often fetched three times
the price of other horses. They were used extensively by
merchants and consequently they spread over a large area
routes carried them to places such as Graz, Vienna and Salzburg.
strong, sturdy predominately white horses were in effect
the first Lipizzaners and formed the backbone of a breeding
programme which used horses whose ancestry we have described
above to produce the perfect horse.
breeders at that time agreed that whilst the Arab was a
superb horse in its own right, the best horses for the Viennese
Court were those which still carried a sizeable proportion
the old Lipizzaner bloodlines.