Meeting the Challenge of a New Millennium
From the Beginnings of Recorded History, a Love Affair with 'The Horse'
The history of Man's intimate connection with 'The Horse' began with primitive man and exists today with the same passion first expressed by the Lascaux cave paintings of FranceÖ30,000 year-old murals reflecting the immutable connection between human and horse.
Precious Bloodlines, Ageless Art
At its very best, our continuing connection with the horse is expressed through the tenacity and vision of those who remain committed to thoughtful and responsible breeding for the preservation of precious bloodlines. It likewise resides in those whose relentless commitment to sustaining the highest levels of equestrian artistry has become a lifelong mission.
The middle of the 16th Century marked a high point in the Renaissance, and an unparalleled flowering of the Arts. The year 1564 witnessed both the birth of Shakespeare and the death of Michelangelo. In that same period the Lipizzan breed of horses was founded.
The Royal Lipizzan Stallions of Austria are among the oldest breeds of horses in the world. Their story can be traced back to the Romans, whose cavalry horses in Spain were crossed with Arabians. Lipizzans are unquestionably also the rarest of breeds; only a few hundred have ever existed at anyone time.
In the 16th Century, the powerful Austrian Imperial Court, under Archduke Charles, established its own breeding farm at Lipizza (in what is now Yugoslavia). They brought to their breeding program these famous Spanish horses. Named Lipizzans after the town of their origin, they became the greatest warhorses in the world. Bred for the exclusive use of the Hapsburg royal family and the military aristocracy, they became the proud ancestors of the Lipizzans we see today.
Colonel Ottomar Herrmann…Curator of a Living Art
Foremost among the world's leading breeders of Lipizzans is Colonel Ottoman Herrmann, scion of the Herrmann family who, for six generations, have been recognized for their meticulous stewardship of the six major bloodlines which are the foundation of this brilliant breed. Colonel Herrmann, like his forebears, has witnessed History's many challenges to the Lipizzans' survival.
From the demise of the great war horses of the pre-Napoleonic era, brought about by the onset of advanced techniques of warfare, to the threat of virtual extinction near the end of World War II, it is a modem miracle of sorts that this most aristocratic of breeds has, indeed, survived.
Lipizzans have been in the Herrmann family since the reign of Austrian Emperor Ferdinand II who gifted the great white stallions to the Knight Ritter van Schoevel to lead his finest officers into battle. Direct descendants of van Schoevel, Colonel Herrmann's family has trained and ridden Lipizzans for six generations, a period spanning nearly three hundred years.
An American Renaissance of Classical Equitation
Today, Colonel Herrmann has created an American Renaissance of classical equitation and maintains a ranch in Florida to help insure the continuation of this most extraordinary breed.
The stallions presented in the performance you will be privileged to enjoy, are among the last horses in the world capable of executing the extraordinarily difficult Airs Above the Ground, the literal Haute Ecole ('High School') of classical equitation. Excluded from the Olympic Games because of their virtual unattainability by even the most advanced school horses, the celebrated Airs are today performed only by stallions of great strength, courage and intelligence.
Training these majestic animals to such exemplary levels of accomplishment takes years of daily work in- hand and, eventually, under saddle. A stallion capable of executing a flawless Capriole or Courbette may require from seven to ten years of training before he is considered able to safely and correctly present these dramatic leaps and plunges before an audience.
Sustaining a Spectacular Breed, a Priceless Art…
Colonel Herrmann's breeding program exists exclusively for the propagation of the breed and the continuation of Haute Ecole into the Twenty-First Century. No more than two to three foals are bred each year to secure this future. No Lipizzans are ever sold to realize these goals. In addition to the stallions with which he tours, Colonel Herrmann maintains a herd of over forty Lipizzan mares at his Myakka City ranch. Together with his world-renown stallions, they ensure the future of this spectacular breed and this priceless Art.