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Lipizzan / Lippizzaner basic information

Lipizzans are not very tall, the largest stands about 16 hands, but their proud carriage, muscular bodies and elastic, powerful movements make them appear much larger than they really are. Lipizzans are late maturing and long lived, many times to 35 or more years of age. Lipizzans display elegance and nobility as soon as they are born. They are born black or bay and slowly turn "white" by the time they are five to eight years of age. Lipizzans are actually grey; their dark skin hidden under a white coat is not revealed unless they are wet or bear a large scar. They are not fully grown in size until they are seven and do not reach full maturity until almost ten years of age. At one year of age, most Lipizzans look shockingly small compared to a Thoroughbred of the same age.

In addition, by the time they are eight months of age most Lipizzans begin to go through the most awkward, ugly duckling stage from which they do not usually emerge until they are about three years old. During this period of awkwardness a typical Lipizzan is barely recognized as a member of his breed. He looks more like a molting mule. In Austria the young Lipizzans are turned out in the alps where no tourists can view them until they are brought back at the age of three. That is when the elegance a Lipizzan possessed at birth returns and is increasingly manifested, even through old age, until the day he dies.

The Lipizzan has a head-heavy, lethargic stance when found in the paddock. When he is turned out or ridden, there is an unforgettable display of fiery animation, with head held high, neck arched, nostrils flared and an inborn ability to leave the ground with incredible power and grace. Then, when approached by a person with a kind word, there is yet another transformation, almost instantaneously, to a docile, gentle horse. He displays obedience and a desire to understand and please, yet without losing his proud bearing and superior presence.

Lipizzans are of sound, heavy bone and lameness is rare. They are extremely adaptable to frequent or rapid changes in their environment and their feed. It is their easy going nature and adaptability that makes them very easy keepers. These are, no doubt, the same qualities which enabled the breed to survive some thirty years of being protectively marched around Europe to various hiding places.

Lipizzans are a joy to ride with their soft, broad backs and lively gait . Their powerful hindquarters allow them to carry themselves with a natural balance. They have a natural sense of rhythm and maintain a very even tempo in all paces without constant adjustment on the part of the rider. They are extremely quiet and steady under saddle.

The stallions are extremely docile and easily handled. They are, in fact, easier to manage than the mares. Respect, once earned by the handler, will always be there with the Lipizzan stallions. The mares, on the other hand, tend to be a little bossy in a motherly way and must be reminded from time to time that they cannot pull parental rank on the handler.

They rarely shy at anything, and if they do, strangely, it is not for the reasons most horses shy. When a Lipizzan is startled there is no feeling of fear or trembling. His back does not hollow out and leave the rider without a place to sit; rather, a Lipizzan collects himself--his hind legs step under his body, his back elevates, seating his rider even more securely in the saddle. The neck arches, insisting that the rider take up more rein. The horse begins piaffe (a powerful trot in place full of cadence and rhythm) with exhilarating power and boldness. He feels like a coiled spring just waiting for the command to capriole through the air. If instead the rider gives to the horse the smallest amount of rein, the piaffe extends to the passage (a slow motion floating trot). This they do naturally. The Lipizzan makes even a beginning rider believe, just for a moment, that he's an old, respected riding master.

He will respond with willingness and heart when respectfully asked to do so, even by the most inexperienced horseperson ... but woe to the person who believes "a horse is a horse" and attempts to display an egotistical desire to bully or intimidate the Lipizzan. When they are truly afraid or their sense of justice is violated by brutality, they stand their ground, look the opponent in the eye, and "royally" prepare for battle--the very purpose for which they were first bred 400 years ago.

The number of half-Lipizzans now registered has grown to over 150. The half-Lipizzan owners are considering possibilities for forming their own registry. Crossbreeding has become popular, not only in Europe, but in the United States and Mexico. In Mexico and some parts of the US, Lipizzans are crossbred to quarter horses to produce excellent working cow horses. When bred to Thoroughbreds, they produce exceptional event horses. Arabs are frequently bred to Lipizzans to produce slightly heavier boned Arab-looking horse. Lipizzans consistently impart their proponent qualities of intelligence, temperament, and soundness, (and, in almost all cases, color). It remains to be seen if they impart their longevity to other breeds. Lipizzans will not only continue to gain popularity as more people come to know them, but also as a foundation breed to produce a superior all-around American warmblood sporthorse--and possibly an American warmblood pony breed.

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Finnhorse Finnish Fjord horse Florida Cracker Frederiksborg
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Hackney Hackney pony Haflinger Hanoverian Highland Pony
Hokkaido Holsteiner Hucul pony Iberian, encompassing the Andalusian, Alter Real, Lusitano and crosses Icelandic
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Karabair Karabakh Kathiawari Kazakh Pony Kentucky Mountain Saddle Horse
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