I Am un Cheval Andalusia!

The Lipizzaner stallions dance their way to the St. Charles Family Arena

Feb 23, 2005 at 4:00 am
People know more about cars than horses these days -- if you need proof, just ask someone to tell you everything he or she knows about "mustangs." To that end, we'll seek to describe the Lipizzaner stallions in automotive terms: These are not the Cadillacs of horses. Instead, they are the finely crafted, exotic Italian or German performance vehicles you'll rarely see, let alone own. And the stallions have quite a storied past.

The Lipizzaner breed first appeared during the Renaissance, and these Spanish-bred horses eventually moved to a town called Lipizza (which was once in Austria), hence the breed's name. The Lipizzans were trained to make the greatest battle beast mankind had ever seen -- they became a genius horse that was faster, stronger and better-looking than any in history (or so Lipizzaner enthusiasts maintain -- but hey, we aren't arguing). And as a result of this breeding, these stallions are, by all accounts, the finest horses to demonstrate the art of dressage, the "ballet" that occurs when horse and rider are so finely in tune that the commands for, say, a capriole -- a leap through the air with a devastating rear kick -- are nearly invisible. (That's like KITT turbo-boosting over a police car without Michael Knight uttering a word.)

Today's Lipizzans carry six bloodlines, dating back to 1765 and originating with these stallions: Pluto (the Dane), Conversano (the Neapolitan), Maestoso, Favory, Neapolitano and Siglavy (the Arab). But even though present-day Lipizzans come from a lineage of battle horses, that doesn't mean that seeing these beautiful white stallions leap through the air and balance on their hind legs isn't a stunning sight or one inappropriate for little girls. But you, our dear, informed audience member, can now sit cheerfully through the horses' presentation imagining the Hapsburg nobility crushing a peasant uprising from such a mount.