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Big Book of Breeds
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[ INDEX ] Equine Type: Horse Breed: Lipizzan (Lippi)   [ PREV ] [ NEXT ]
The Lipizzan (also known as Lipizzaner) is a rare European baroque horse breed known for being an excellent classical dressage horse. It is named after Lipizza (today the village of Lipica in Slovenia) from which it originated.

Lipizzans are the result of a careful breeding program which started in the 16th century by Charles II, then the Archduke of Austria. In 1580, he imported Spanish horses to his stud court in Lipizza, and over the next few years he carefully crossed them with the local Karst horses, as well as with additional Spanish horses that he imported to the farm.

In the 18th century, the finest Italian, German, and Frederiksborg horses were crossed with the horses of Lipizza, which were still called "Karst" horses. It was only in the 19th century when the breed's name was changed to Lipizzan. During the 1850's, the Emperor of Austria (Franz Joseph I) imported Arabian horses, and crossed them with the Lipizzan horses to refine the Lipizzan breed.

Lipizzans are most famous for their excellent performance in haute e'cole and classical dressage, a profession for which they were specifically bred. Accordingly, the Spanish Riding School, a leading center for classical dressage which was founded in 1572, allows only Lipizzan horses to perform there. In addition, Lipizzans also perform well in dressage driving. Nevertheless, despite seeming like a popular breed, Lipizzans are actually in a threatened status.

Since the 16th century, Lipizzan horses were always bred for having a light grey or white coat color. Light grey is the most prevalent color among Lipizzan horses, though brown, bay and black individuals can sometimes be found and are considered to be a sign of good luck. Chestnut is rare but occurs in this breed. Lipizzans usually stand between 14.2hh and 15.2hh, but individuals as tall as 16.1hh can be found.

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