The South African Lipizzaners

A couple of Sundays ago, on a freezing cold Johannesburg morning, I took my little boy to go see the South African Lipizzaners.

The Lipizzaner breed can boast that their ancestors can be traced back to Carthaginian and Roman horses at the time Julius Caesar was Emperor of Rome. Around 1562, an Archduke Maximilian started to breed the famous white horse in a small village in Slovenia. A few of the horses were rescued from then war-torn Austria in 1944 and were brought to South Africa. A Lipizzaner centre was started in Kyalami and close ties were kept with the Spanish Riding School in Vienna, the only riding academy in the world where the Renaissance tradition of classical horsemanship is preserved and cultivated to this day. Today the South African Lipizzaners, representing all six bloodlines of the breed, are the only other school of performing Lipizzaner stallions in the world to receive the official stamp of approval by the Spanish Riding School in Vienna.

The foals are usually born black and go lighter with each change of coat to become a silvery white between the ages of 6-10 years. Sometimes, a very rare and special stallion will remain dark in colour. They go through six years of training based on classical dressage.


Performances are every Sunday morning at their indoor arena. After the show, people are invited to the stables to meet the riders and, what turned out to be the highlight for my little boy, to feed the horses carrots. We ended up buying lunch and spending our morning sitting in the sun, warming our bodies after having our hearts warmed by the beautiful horses.

You can visit their website here for more information.

Image credits: All photography by me

1 comment:

  1. The focus is the unique, extraordinary training ability of the Lipizzaner horse, its background from Xenophon in the 4th century, four centuries of pedgree, Imperial Horse of the Habsburg Empire and Royal Horse of Europe.

    Lipizzaner horse classical training