These handsome Lipizzaner Horses in Vienna are descendants of the breed that was initially developed in the 16th century with the support of the Royal Hapsburg family. Lipizzaners were bred for a long life and a muscular build. As a result, they excel in performing jumps and other “in-the-air” feats practiced in classical dressage. Lipizzaner horses can have coats in an array of colors, however, the Royal family bred them to be predominantly grey in color. Because of this, they are often described as white horses, but this is a misnomer. White horses are born with pale skin and a white hair coat. Lipizzaners are born with black skin and a darker coat – usually bay or black. Their coats lighten with age, gradually turning light gray.
Today the Lipizzaner breed is most closely associated with the Spanish Riding School of Vienna. During my recent visit to the Austrian capital, I stopped by their stables. It’s always possible to catch a glimpse of their heads hanging over the stable doors, but I was fortunate to arrive when they were being moved to their performance arena. Beautiful at a distance, they were absolutely stunning as they paraded within arm’s reach of me.