The horses on these pages are descendants of a breed resident in Vienna since Shakespeare was one year old. By that year—1565—the Spanish Court Riding School, so called because lightweight horses imported from Andalusia were used, began its tradition of subtle and superior horsemanship. Now on a tour of eight cities in the United States and Canada, the dazzling Lipizzans are performing their exacting ritual of caprioles and courbettes, levades and pesades, pirouettes and passages before capacity houses. The Lipizzans' name derives from the village of Lipizza near Trieste, where a stud was founded in 1580.
The Lipizzan has been bred to execute at man's command the movements a stallion will do on his own only in a natural state. And only the superathletes of this specialized breed can achieve the leaps shown here. Once utilized by riders in combat, these soaring leaps now are taught to illustrate the skill of both horse and handler. A stallion's formal training does not begin until he is 4 years old, an age when many a racehorse is already retired. Three to five years later the finished horse is shown, and often is able to continue performing up to the age of 30. About the time a Lipizzan's formal training starts, his color begins to fade from its original dark hue and continues to lighten with age. Each horse is given a double name, the first after his sire and the second for his dam. This explains why a fiery Lipizzan stallion often is addressed by grooms as Kitty or Flora.
This monument-style pose called a levade is held for a long moment by Neapolitano Strana.
Eight stallions enact one of the precision movements of the School Quadrille. Colonel Alois Podhajsky, in charge for 25 years, is at far left.
Executing courbette, Lipizzan rears and hops forward on hind legs as in combat.