Lipica: Stud Farm and Majestic White Horses

Lipica: Where the White Horses Are

Lipica Stud Farm

White horses - Lipizzaners

The Lipian (Lipicaner) is a Slovenian autochthonous breed of horse, bred in Lipica. The stud farm was founded in 1580 in the Slovenian Karst, then part of the Habsburg Monarchy, making Lipica the oldest stable still in operation. The stable is closely associated with the Spanish Riding School in Vienna, Austria, where haute école and various other riding techniques are practiced. Horses at the Spanish Riding School are trained using traditional methods that go back centuries. The Lipizzaner is one of the symbols of Slovenia; it is depicted on the Slovenian 20-cent euro coin.

The Lipizzaner has a lively temperament, is easy to train, and is suitable for performing elements of classical dressage, as well as for all types of equestrian activities under saddle and in harness.

Lipica stablings

Lipica stablings

Lipizzaner color

Lipizzaner foals are dark in color and primarily gray to almost completely white as they age. Even 200 years ago they could also be black, brown, with white spots, after which they began to select animals that were born dark (most often black) and turned gray with age. This graying or depigmentation is so severe that horses turn white between the ages of five and seven.

Lipicanec/Lipizzaner horses

Lipicanec/Lipizzaner horses

History of Lipica

The stud farm was founded by the Austrian Archduke Karel, then regent of Styria, Carinthia, Carniola, Istria and Trieste. At the stud farm, he wanted to breed enough elegant, driving and riding horses for the stables of Graz, where he had his residence. In 1578, he chose the abandoned mansion of the Trieste bishop in Lipica as the construction site. He signed an agreement to transfer the property on May 19, 1580, and in 1594 the stud farm bought the nearby property of Yuri Bozhich. The names Lipica and Lipica are related to the history of the linden tree, a tree that is often found in the Karst. In the middle of the 14th century, on the outskirts of the current stud farm near the village of Lokiev, there was a popular wine cellar, in front of which a small linden tree grew, so it was called “Pr' lipci”. They say that this small linden tree gave its name to the settlement of that time.

In Lipica, stables and residential buildings were built, meadows and pastures were created. For this purpose, soil was brought from many valleys of Kras, which is why Lipica is still called “a green oasis on a rocky beauty.” Then they started afforestation. All this was approximately arranged in five years, since already in 1585 the first manager of the stud farm, the Slovenian Franz Jurko, informed the Archduke that the continued and uninterrupted existence of the stud farm was guaranteed. The first Spanish horses (24 purebred mares and 6 purebred stallions) were purchased back in 1581. They also bought German horses, the most famous stallion Lipp, as well as Danish ones, mainly from the Royal Frederiksborg Stud. In 1816, the Arabian stallion Siglawi joined the herd.

Carriage rides in Lipica

Carriage rides in Lipica

The entire herd from Lipica temporarily moved to Hungarian Székesfehérvár (22 March 1797 - 17 October 1797) and Pecska near Mezőhegyes (27 July 1809 - 1815) during the Napoleonic Wars. During the First World War, the herd was transported to Laxenburg near Vienna, and the foals to Kladruby, Czech Republic, the evacuation of the herd was completed on May 29, 1915. After the war, all the foals remained in the Czech Republic, and the rest of the herd (109 horses) was returned to the then Italian Lipica.

The most terrible blow for Lipica was the Second World War. After Italy's surrender, it was occupied by the Germans and on October 12, 1943, all 179 horses were transported to Gostinec in the Czech Republic. There were also horses from the Austrian Piber stud, from the former Yugoslav court Lipizzaner stud Demir Kapija, from the former Yugoslav Arabian stud Dusanovo near Skopje and the Polish Janow stud. At the end of the war, American General Patton launched a rescue operation to ensure the safety of the herd (the events were followed by the 1963 Disney film The Miracle of the White Stallions).

The Americans transferred some of the horses and the entire archive to Italy; many horses went to the stable of Piber, who resumed and expanded breeding. Lipica, which belonged to Yugoslavia, received only 11 horses only in 1947, but after more than thirty years of work they were lucky enough to completely restore the stud farm. Today, his stables again include representatives of six original lines of stallions (at least 4 in each line) and sixteen classic lines of mares (at least 3 in each line).

Today, Lipizzaner breeders breed horses in stud farms in Slovenia, Austria, Italy, Romania, Croatia, the Czech Republic, Slovakia, Hungary and other countries of the world.

Lipica stud farm Visit

Nowadays there are tours of the stables every day. The schedule depends on the time of year: from November to March once a day at 13.00, and during peak season there are 3-4 excursions every day in different languages (English, German, Italian, Slovenian). You can also attend interesting performances and training sessions. More detailed and accurate information on the official website here