Experience the ballet of White Stallions with SA Lipizzaners. Our work is dedicated to the preservation of the magnificent Lipizzaner horse in South Africa.
Who We Are
The South African Lipizzaner Centre (NPO) is a renowned equestrian establishment located just outside of Paarl in the Western Cape. Our work is dedicated to the preservation of the magnificent Lipizzaner horse in South Africa, and our training follows the strict principles and traditions of classical dressage and the haute ècole. Classical training is a historical, systematic approach passed down through generations of equestrian masters, with the goal of achieving absolute harmony with the horse. Our public performances exemplify the harmonious connection between a horse and their rider through carefully choreographed routines set to music; an unparalleled cultural experience. We are a Non-Profit Organisation; our tireless efforts are what keeps the now 70-year legacy of the Lipizzaner horse in South Africa alive.
The Lipizzaner Horse
The Lipizzaner is one of the oldest domesticated breeds of horse still existing in the world today. They were purpose-bred for battle, making them the iconic war-horse of the Middle Ages. The Lipizzaner breed was established in 1562 when the Hapsburgs began breeding Spanish horses in Lipica, a village in what is now Slovenia. It was the need for military horses of unusual strength, loyalty and courage that inspired them to import Spanish, Italian and Arab-Oriental horses for their breeding programme. Out of this grew the famous white horse – the Lipizzan (or Lipizzaner) – as we know it today.
Lipizzaners are almost always exclusively grey as adults despite being born black or dark brown. On the stud farm, the dark foals stand in stark contrast to the silvery-white sheen of their mothers. As a Lipizzaner ages they gradually lighten until, usually by around 8 to 9 years of age, they adopt their characteristic white coat. Interestingly, some Lipizzaners will remain a dark brown colour their entire life. The very rare colour is a throwback to their ancestry and considered an omen of good fortune. We are very lucky to have three at the South African Lipizzaner Centre.
There are six classical stallion bloodlines (Conversano, Maestoso, Pluto, Siglavy, Neapolitano and Favory) and more than 22 mare families in the Lipizzaner breeding registry. It is imperative that one puts the best combinations of mares and stallions together to uphold the breed characteristics. At the South African Lipizzaner Centre we have representatives from all 6 classical stallion lines. At our stud farm we have mares from the Erczel, Czirka and Allegra bloodlines, the former two bloodlines being absent from breeding populations outside of South Africa.
Classical Dressage & Haute école
The modern competitive discipline of dressage has its origins in the art of high school riding and classical dressage which in turn began as a method of improving maneuverability during mounted battle. For many centuries, wars were fought and won from the back of the horse. Having a highly schooled, talented and strong mount capable of moving swiftly and obediently sideways as well as forwards at speed certainly offered a unique advantage over an enemy. Furthermore, horses were trained in other movements, for example the Capriole, Courbette, Pesade and Levade, designed for the sole purpose of transforming the horse into a weapon of war. Though these movements are no longer used in open warfare, they are still trained at the South African Lipizzaner Centre for their pure aesthetic value and are a main feature of our performances. Watching them perform these movements is to experience history in motion.
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