"The Ballet of the White Stallions" Top 5 Page for this destination Lipizzaner Centre Tip by Moirads

Lipizzaner Centre, Johannesburg: 2 reviews and 3 photos


Pre-pubescent and teenage girls often go through a ?horse mad? phase. I skipped that and went straight to the ?boy mad? phase! So it was with some reluctance that I have had my arm twisted a few times to visit the Lippizaner Centre in Kyalami, especially as the Lippizaners have, over the years, appeared at Musical Fireworks and the annual pantomime where I have also seen them.

There are only two places in the world where these Spanish-line breed of horses are trained in the traditional methods of ?airs above ground?, a form of classical military dressage, that is in Vienna, Austria and Kyalami, Johannesburg, South Africa, although these are the national animal of Slovenia where the original stud farm was situated. Fans not only know the names of the horses, but also their entire pedigree which all goes back to six stallions, and which riders rode them, when and where.

I acknowledge that the show is quite pretty ? all to recorded music - and the riding is good. The period costuming and girls riding side saddle is interesting. I have, however, very limited interest in this aspect of South Africa's rich heritage.

The Hapsburg family owned many of them contributing much to the development of the breed in the 16th century although the breed dates back to the seventh century when ?Barb? horses were brought to Spain by the Moors and crossed with native Spanish stock. In 1562 Maximillian II brought the Spanish Andalusian horse to Austria and founded a stud farm at Kladrub whil his brother established a similar one at Lipizza in Slovenia. They were cavalry horses and some of the spectacular leaps and manoeuvers were once used by the riders to protect and defend themselves on the battlefield, but these are obviously now just equestrian art or equine ballet.

These war horses have suffered terribly in war time since the beginning. When Napoleon invaded Austria they were evacuated for their protection. In 1915 they were again evacuated. In WWII they were sent by the Nazis to Czechoslovakia and at the end of the war were rescued from the advancing Russian Army by George Patton of the American army who it was feared would slaughter them for meat. This rescue was made famous by the Disney movie ?Miracle of the White Stallions?. During this process there were inheritance issues and one of the heirs brought some of these horses to South Africa.

There are only approximately 3000 of these horses registered worldwide. In 1983 a viral epidemic hit the Viennese school with 40 horses succumbing to the virus.

Most of the foals are born dark and gradually lighten as they age. White horses, in equestrian language, are always called ?greys?. There are some, usually bay or black, who don't grey and retain their colour.

There are Lippizaner shows every Sunday morning at 10:30 at the Lippizaner stud in Kyalami as well as various other special events throughout the year. Tickets are R110 as at November 2011.

The centre is in Dahlia Road, Kyalami, 1684
011 702 2103

Address: Dahlia Road, Kyalami, 1684
Directions: Full directions and GPS co-ordinates are on the website.
Phone: 011 702 2103
Website: http://www.lipizzaners.co.za

Review Helpfulness: 2.5 out of 5 stars

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  • Written Nov 5, 2011
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