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Dancing With Horses

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I went to see the Herrmanns’ Royal Lipizzan Stallions at a fundraiser for a local horse retirement farm. It started out as a cloudy, humid afternoon that threatened to rain, but the sky eventually cleared and then it got quite warm. The stallions were amazing! This was an all female team of handlers and riders and I was very impressed with their handling of the horses and the way they were treated. The horses behaved so impeccably that you could almost forget they were stallions.

Lipizzans don’t mature until they are 7 or 8 and consequently are not worked before then. They are a long-lived breed that often lives well up into their mid 30’s or early 40’s and their oldest stallion lived to be 45! The stallions in this performance had a wide range of ages, the youngest being one of the most gorgeous, but he also was the most spirited. This was his debut show and while he looked to be a bit of handful on the long lines, he did very well under saddle. (He’s in the photo above.)

The women in the show were very personable and affectionate with their mounts, often talking to them and encouraging them through the performance. It was easy to see how each stallion had their own distinct personality. Some were steady-as-she-goes while others were a bit feisty. One was even a bit bratty and the ring mistress didn’t try to hide that fact, but pointed out that he too was young and gaining experience. You could tell the stallions were a part of their extended family and each rider knew their strengths and weaknesses.

I was very surprised to find these were not particularly big stallions. I would guess they ranged in size from about 14.3 – 15.2 on the average. For some reason I had the impression they would be bigger. And some where big bodied while others were more refined. Manes, tails and their presence or absence of freckles were all different too. I have to say that being around that many gray horses had me a bit on the brink of tears at times. It really made me miss Tia.

I highly recommend you see a Lipizzan show if you ever have the chance. The Herrmaans show schedule is on their website.


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Waiting for the show to begin


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The Levade


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Warming up

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The  Courbette. (You can’t see his hind legs because there’s a big giant head in the way, but all four feet are off the ground.) A war movement, this was performed mounted also.


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The Capriole


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Another pretty face!


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Tandem work



3 responses

  1. Excellent photography!

    August 4, 2013 at 3:39 PM

    • Thank you! It was such an honor to be there with camera in hand!

      August 4, 2013 at 6:32 PM

  2. Previous Horse used to croupade when he was mad, i.e. go up on 2 legs & hop forward. Mostly when I was on the ground. He got over rearing under saddle. Amazing movement.

    August 12, 2013 at 6:45 PM

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