Lipizzan Association of North America

P.O. Box 1133

Anderson, Indiana 46015

The Lipizzan is a revered and ancient horse tracing back to Iberian and Berber horses imported by Archduke Charles who founded a stud in Lipizza (in modern-day Slovenia) in 1580. As a ceremonial horse, the breed has nobility, brilliance, and style. It is a type of baroque mount that exhibits balanced agility, temperament, and good character as some of its distinguishing attributes. It is known for its docility and intelligence and has become world famous because of its connection with the Spanish Riding School in Vienna. The Lipizzan has been bred selectively to easily perform the high school movements of dressage and to be an elegant carriage horse.

Developed exclusively by the Hapsburg monarchy, the Lipizzan is the true horse of royalty. Four hundred years of selective breeding have made it one of Europe’s oldest breeds, with its historical and cultural development enhancing its mystique. Physically capable of withstanding the demands of the skill called the “airs above the ground,” the Lipizzan was bred to perform haute école dressage at the famous Spanish Riding School. Owners and breeders are dedicated to the Lipizzan because they appreciate its rarity, cultural importance, romantic history, intelligence, classic beauty, and harmonious, athletic way of moving.

By the late twentieth and presently in the twenty-first century, the Lipizzan has proved itself to be a successful competitor at all levels of dressage and driving, while continuing to be the ultimate mount for classical horsemanship. It has also been appreciated in other equestrian disciplines, including pleasure riding. Comments often heard from those seeing an American Lipizzan for the first time are, “I thought they were only in Europe,” “I thought they were too rare for regular people to own,” “Can they really be bought here?” and “They must really be expensive!” Surprisingly, Lipizzans can be purchased in the United States and have been successful endurance horses and trail competitors, as well as eventing and dressage horses.


The ideal Lipizzan is the baroque, classical type. Lipizzan Association of North America


The Hapsburg family controlled both Spain and Austria when the art of classical riding was revived in Europe during the Renaissance. There was a need for light, fast horses for use in the military and in the riding school. The Spanish horse, produced during Moorish rule by crossing Berber and Arab stallions with Iberian mares, was considered the most suitable mount because of its exceptional sturdiness, beauty, and intelligence.

In 1562, Maximilian II brought the Spanish horse to Austria and founded the court stud at Kladrub. His brother, Archduke Charles, established a similar private imperial stud farm with Spanish stock in 1580 at Lippiza (now named Lipizza Italian, or Lipica in Slovenian) near the Adriatic Sea. There on the karst plateau near Trieste, Italy, the type of horse bred was called the “Lippizaner.” (Today in Europe the breed is still called Lipizzaner, while in the United States, it is Lipizzan.)

The Kladrub and Lipizza stock were bred to the native karst horses, and succeeding generations were crossed with the old Neapolitan breed and horses of Spanish descent obtained from Spain, Germany, and Denmark. The Kladrub stud produced heavy carriage horses and riding horses, while light carriage horses came from the Lipizza stud, although breeding stock was interchanged between the studs.

Of the sires used during the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries, only six had established sire lines: Conversano, a black Neapolitan, born in 1767; Favory, a dun born in 1779 and transferred from Kladrub; Maestoso, a gray crossbred born in 1819, transferred from Kladrub, having a Neapolitan sire and a Spanish dam; Neapolitano, a bay or brown from another Neapolitan sire, born in 1790; Pluto, a gray of Spanish origin and from the Danish stud, born in 1765; and Siglavy, a gray Arabian, born in 1810.

By the 1800s, there were no longer any original Spanish horses available, so Arabians were used to strengthen the lines. Of the seven Arabian stallions used, only Siglavy founded a separate dynasty. The two other stallion lines that did not find favor at the Lipizza stud were perpetuated at other studs within the boundaries of the Austrian empire. The Tulipan (Croatia) and Incitato (Transylvanian-Hungarian) lines are still found in Yugoslavia, Hungary, and other Eastern European countries, as well as North America. In addition to the sire lines, thirty-five mares established dominant families that are recognized today. Each country established traditions in naming, branding, and otherwise identifying their Lipizzans.

Spanish Riding School

An important establishment linked to the Lipizzan is the Spanish Riding School in Vienna. It was named after the early Spanish horses imported in the sixteenth century and is the oldest surviving institution of its kind in the world. Its primary purpose has remained the same throughout its history: to perpetuate the art of classical horsemanship in its purest form and transmit it from generation to generation. To this end, the school has used the Lipizzan exclusively as a horse capable of performing all the steps and movements of dressage, including the airs above the ground—the levade, the courbette, and the capriole.


A spectacular Lipizzan with crested neck, powerful shoulders, and short legs. Lipizzan Association of North America and Tempel Lipizzans

Breed Expansion

Until 1916, the Lipizzan stud farm remained a private possession of the Hapsburg monarchy, and the expansion of the breed was only affected by military conflicts over the centuries. Whenever warfare threatened the Lipizza stud, the horses were moved away. During these moves, individual horses were occasionally given or sold to other studs. From these horses came other small Lipizzan farms, usually within the boundaries of the Austrian empire.

During World War I, the breeding stock was relocated to Laxenburg near Vienna. The foals were placed in Kladrub, the other imperial stud farm. After World War I, central Europe was reorganized and the large Austrian-Hungarian Empire was divided into several new republics. Every new state inherited the possessions of the former monarchy, thus the breeding stock of the imperial stud farm of Lippiza (1580–1916) was divided over three different countries. The main portion went to Italy, and the village of Lipizza and its surroundings were also awarded stock. The 1913–1915 foals remained at Kladrub, which was then owned by the Czechoslovakian state. In 1919, the republic of Austria became the owner of the rest of the breeding stock and the stallions of the Spanish Riding School. In addition to Italy, Czechoslovakia, and Austria, other new states that continued the breeding of the Lipizzan horse were Hungary, Rumania, and Yugoslavia.

During World War II, the Lipizzan breed was again threatened with extinction when the mares and foals from Austria, Italy, and Yugoslavia were transferred to Hostau in Czechoslovakia by the German High Command. Through the heroic efforts of the Spanish Riding School’s director, Alois Podhajsky, the school and its horses were saved, owing their survival also to the intervention of Gen. George S. Patton of the U.S. Army. The perpetuation of the breed was guaranteed by Patton, who retrieved the mares and returned them to Austrian soil. Today Lipizzans are found beyond the borders of what was once the Austrian-Hungarian Empire.

In the United States

The first Lipizzans brought to the United States were given to opera singer Countess Maria Jeritza, who received several as gifts from the Austrian government in 1937. In 1945, the U.S. Remount Service imported nine Lipizzans, but it was not until the late 1950s that Lipizzans were imported in any great number. Between 1958 and 1969, Tempel and Ester Smith of Illinois imported one stallion and thirteen mares from Austria, seven Lipizzaners from Hungary, and six from Yugoslavia. In 1959, Evelyn Dreitzler from Washington State began negotiations with the Austrian government and, between 1959 and 1973, imported three stallions and ten mares to the United States. Other importations have occurred during the past thirty years, each adding another dimension to the U.S. Lipizzan genetic base.

Today, with only about 1,500 Lipizzans in North America and an additional 2,000 in the rest of the world, the breed is considered rare and the number of foals born each year is correspondingly small. Extreme care has been taken by those involved in the production of Lipizzans to ensure that the purity of the breed is preserved.


In 1992, members of the oldest U.S. Lipizzan registry, the Lipizzan Association of America, joined with the Lipizzan Society of North America to form the Lipizzan Association of North America (LANA). LANA is a North American representative of the Lipizzan International Federation (LIF), a worldwide association of Lipizzan owners and breeders. LANA follows the LIF criteria defining a purebred and registers Lipizzans. Horses eligible for registration must trace without interruption to the recognized male lines and female families of official European stud farms and their approved breeding stock.

Lipizzans born and bred within the North American continent, as well as those that are imported, including those in utero, can be registered. If they have a sire or dam not registered with LANA, a five-generation pedigree of the unregistered sire and dam must be submitted. It is recommended that there be no duplication of ancestors in a pedigree closer than four generations. No Lipizzan can be transferred without first being registered.

DNA technology using microsatellites are used to identify equine parentage and provide information for future genetic traits and disease diagnosis. All LANA registered breeding stock within the continental United States must be DNA typed.

Lineage Requirements

Stallion lines: LANA recognizes as eligible for registration those Lipizzan stallions that are descended from the six stallion lines: Conversano, Favory, Maestoso, Neapolitano, Pluto, and Siglavy. The Incitato and Tulipan lines are also recognized as eligible for registration provided the pedigrees follow the LIF standards; both the sire’s and dam’s lineage must trace to approved breeding stock.


A lovely dappled Lipizzan with convex head and correct, rectangular body. Lipizzan Association of North America and Tempel Lipizzans

Mare lines: Lipizzan mares eligible for registration are descended from the classic mare lines or those mare families approved by the LIF that have been introduced through traditional breeding procedures, according to the plan of the individual studs.

Recognized European breeding experiments: Horses of Arab, Andalusian, and Kladrub breeding are occasionally accepted in the pedigree of Lipizzans by the LIF, and therefore LANA, provided these horses were incorporated in an historically and traditionally recognized and approved breeding program.


A horse eligible for registration in LANA must use the traditional procedure of naming the Lipizzan. Those imported from stud farms outside the North American continent keep their original registered name. Foals born on the North American continent are registered using LANA’s naming procedure. To standardize the procedure of naming a horse, every stallion has a double name, the first being the lineage name of sire and the second being that of the dam. For mares, LANA follows the Austrian Piber stud farm naming criteria and requires that all mare names should be complementary to the traditional Lipizzan line names and must end in the vowel “a.”


In the courbette, the Lipizzan horse raises his forehand off the ground, tucks up his forelegs evenly, and then jumps forward on his hind legs. Spanish Riding School

The age of the horse shall be its true age as to the day, month, and year. However, for show purposes all horses born during one calendar year of January 1 to December 31 will be considered the same age.

Partbred Requirements

LANA provides a separate division that registers Lipizzan partbreds. They must have a minimum of half Lipizzan breeding with one purebred Lipizzan parent eligible for registration as a purebred. The Lipizzan portion of the pedigree must trace to the recognized male lines and female families of official European stud farms and their approved breeding stock. Partbreds do not have to be DNA tested, but the purebred parent must have blood type or DNA on record in order for the partbred to be registered.

Type and Conformation

By implementing strict standards, LANA encourages the development of the Lipizzan riding horse that is the epitome of beauty and harmony, possessing intelligence and docile temperament. The Lipizzan is noted for its sturdy body, brilliant action, and proud carriage.


Lipizzans are born dark colored and gradually turn white. Drazen Vukelic/Shutterstock

The head is usually straight or slightly convex. It is remarkable for its large, prominent, and appealing eyes, which are set wide apart. Its small ears are set rather wide apart and carried alertly; a small muzzle balances a prominent jaw.

The body is rectangular and compact, set off by a powerful, crested neck and muscular shoulders. It presents a picture of strength with broad back and loins, well-rounded, muscular hindquarters, and short, strong legs with well defined tendons and joints.

Not an exceedingly tall horse, the Lipizzan averages between 14.2 and 15.2 hands.

Lipizzans are genetically a type of gray. Born dark, black-brown, brown, or mouse-gray, Lipizzans gradually lighten until the white coat for which they are noted is pronounced somewhere between the ages of six and ten. The white hair coat has become dominant in the bred; only now and then is a black or brown adult produced. As late as two hundred years ago, blacks, browns, chestnuts, duns, piebalds, and skewbalds were found in the adult herd. Today non-white Lipizzans are a rarity, with only a black or bay found occasionally.


This Lipizzan shows brilliant form at the piaffe (trotting in place). Sara Stafford


Lipizzan breed evaluations have been held in the United States since 1986, and LANA continues to organize and host evaluations around the country. The first evaluation for foals and geldings is for educational purposes and to certify the breeding abilities of their sires and dams.


In the levade, the horse coils its loins and positions itself close to the ground, holding the pose at 30 to 35 degrees. Spanish Riding School

On European stud farms, horses under the age of three and one-half are evaluated at several points in their development. Likewise in the United States, all evaluations on foals and young horses are marked preliminary. Foals and youngsters two and under should be re-evaluated after age three to obtain their final approval; however, the evaluation process is continuous, even after approval for breeding. It is a constant education and review process, and nearly every horse passes. The purpose of evaluations is to eliminate probable genetic faults, such as really crooked legs.

In-hand evaluations are done when the horse is at liberty to properly judge the trot and canter. This is due to the fact that there are very few professional handlers in the United States, and in most cases, short people do not display a horse any better than a taller handler. (For in-hand classes of other breeds, handlers have been characteristically tall). For the fairest judging, the assistance of several arena helpers is used, and the horses are set free to “strut their stuff” and then be reclaimed by their handlers.

Horses scoring between 60 and 70 may be bred and their foals evaluated. If those horses produce well, they should continue the breeding process. If not, the animals should be used as riding or driving horses.

Horses are judged on:

• Conformation of head, neck, shoulders, withers, front and hind legs, back, loins, frame, and topline

• Breed type (excludes foals and geldings). Breed and type, and masculinity/femininity

• Correctness of gaits walk in-hand, trot in-hand and free, and canter free

• Impulsion and elasticity

• Temperament and obedience

• Overall impression

Evaluations for the Not-So-Classical Lipizzan

First and foremost, the primary purpose of LANA is to register Lipizzan horses, regardless of their body type. Some members prefer the baroque, classical type, while others prefer the more modern, competition type. The view of the judging criteria is that the classical, baroque Lipizzan is the epitome of the breed. Therefore, the further a horse deviates from the classical type, the lower the score will be in the Breed and Type section of the evaluation. Unless a horse is so unlike a Lipizzan that it receives a very low score in the Breed and Type section, it will be approved provided everything else is of good quality.

Credit: Lipizzan Association of North America

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