Spanish Riding School 2005 American Tour

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Wednesday, October 26, 2005

A Riding School Worth Rescuing More Than Once

Europe has never been a very stable place. Look back over the past 500 years, since the Lipizzan breed was started: Someone always seems to be on the march, dictators have come and gone and neighbors of different religions easily find an excuse to start a civil war.

In troubled times, the problem has always been how to protect the breeding stock of Lipizzans from invaders, whether they came from the east or west or north. The Germans in World War II actually did take over the studs, and moved all the mares to Czechoslovakia, forming sort of a giant family reunion of Lipizzans from various countries.

Napoleon was not so lucky, though he would have loved to call the Lipizzans his own. In 1796, his troops marched through Lipica. As the battle lines approached, 300 horses made a 44-day trek to Stuhlweissenburg in Hungary, and then on to various holding farms. During the journey, 16 mares foaled, but all survived. That fall, they returned home after a peace treaty was signed.

Soon after their return, an earthquake struck Lipica and many of the buildings were ruined.

Napoleon approached again in 1805 and the horses were moved to Diakovar and Karjad, where a fire broke out in the stables, but the horses were all rescued.

Finally, in 1809, the horses ducked Napoleon again. This time, they trotted off to Pecska in eastern Hungary. Something there, perhaps in the pastures or in the climate, did not suit the mares and 110 of them miscarried. This was a terrible blow to the breed. When they got back home,they found that a French-appointed governor ruled Karst and the stud farm was left to decay. After Napoleon was sent to exile, Karst became part of Italy.

Fast forward to World War I. Italy wisely sent some Lipizzans to Austria and some to Bohemia in what would be known as Czechoslovakia. You may remember that World War I began in the Balkan region near Karst. After that war, half of the horses stayed in Austria to begin what would be the breeding program at Piber; the others returned to Lipica.

The Balkan conflicts of the late 1900s and early part of this century affected the remained stud farms in the Balkans. The International League for the Protection of Horses sent a rescue crew to help at one point; even today the studs in the former Yugoslavia struggle to maintain their prideful place as the true home of the breed.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

Why aren't they coming to California??

4:55 PM, November 04, 2005  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Will they be coming to California?
Please let us know in your blog if they will be coming to California, maybe in 2006?

7:16 PM, November 27, 2005  

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