Last week we visited the winter training grounds of the Hermann Royal Lipizzan Stallions in Myakka City (the next county over from where we are). It was lovely to watch as they practiced performing in front of crowds. Originally bred as warhorses, the stallions are taught to work with people and each other. But they still perform some of the war-like maneuvers that their ancestors used in fighting.
The stallions train in Florida for five months out of the year and then they are on tour the rest of the year all over the United States and Canada. The mares and retired horses live at their Florida headquarters all year long.
Lipizzan horses were originally bred for the exclusive use of the Hapsburgs, the Royal Family of Austria. During World War II, the line was saved from probable extinction when they were smuggled from behind enemy lines. United States' General Patton was instrumental in providing safe haven for the horses. One of those smuggling out the horses was their trainer and breeder Colonel Herrmann. He and his son subsequently brought some of the horses to the United States. The lady in the pictures above is a granddaughter and the owner of the Hermann troop.
The silver-maned beauty was my favorite -- he's actually quite a young horse. Mature Lipizzan's manes look whiter.
Here is a link to the Hermann page for the History of these horses.