Lipica-Slovakia, cradle of equine royalty, was declared a World Heritage Site

In the midst of forests and hills, in the Slovenian town of Lipica, where spectators are fascinated by the dazzling spectacle offered by the Lipizzanian horses, Lipica is the cradle of the most distinguished equine breed in the world.

Lipica, cradle of the most distinguished equine breed in the world, descendants of long lines of crossbreeding between Spanish, Arabian and Berber horses, has a great reason to celebrate. The breeding of these horses, a tradition they have in common with seven other countries in the region, has recently been inscribed on UNESCO’s Intangible Cultural Heritage list.

These noble specimens are distinguished for their skills in dressage, a series of difficult movements that require strength and precision, in which the equine’s feet leave the ground.

Lipizzaners were bred only for the Habsburg court since the 16th century and derive their name from the small village in the Slovenian Alps. Lipica is home to one of the oldest stud farms in the world, inhabited by more than 400 blue-blooded horses.

“This is the home of the Lipizzans,” declared Slovenian Culture Minister Asta Vrecko before the Unesco ceremony.

Austria, Bosnia, Croatia, Hungary, Italy, Romania, Slovakia and Slovenia were the eight countries attending the event and bidding to recognize their shared tradition.

The hands of the clock stopped as the horses and riders from the eight nations showed their dressage and harness show. “They are phenomenal animals, the way they were trained and the skill level of the riders is incredible,” said Laura Highlander, a 42-year-old American farm owner who traveled to see the horses.

Lipizzan horses turn white at around four years of age, as they are dark at birth, at the same time when the change takes place, their rigid training begins and the most promising stallions are carefully selected.

Lipica’s chief horseman, Miro Dragic, told AFP that “Lipizzaners can have a strong temperament. They are usually calm, sometimes shy. They are gentle and it is up to us to recognize the quality of each horse.”

Health permitting, these great specimens remain active well into their twenties. Only the best specimens will be trained in the elite ‘haute ecole’ of dressage to eventually master what some describe as equine ballet: they gallop, prance and pirouette.

To this end, the riders, dressed in distinguished two-cornered hats and red suits, must be able to hold their horses. “With horses it’s like with people, there are many external elements, including the weather, that can affect them,” stable hand Amadej Cej told AFP. each horse is worth up to several hundred thousand euros.


Equine lineage, Lipica, Slovakia, Lipizzan horses, world heritage, Unesco, equine ballet, trot, canter, gallop, caper, riders, haute ecole, Austria, Bosnia, Croatia, Hungary, Italy, Romania, Slovenia.

Published by Emirates Herald, news and information agency.

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