Did you know we have a touch of Austria right nearby? If you travel to Myakka City, you can escape into the world of the famous Lipizzaner Stallions. Only a short 45-minute drivefrom Tanglewood, you can step into the world of these beautiful and talented horses.
Just like the Friesian is known for being the black beauty of the equine breeds, the Lipizzaner is known for its glistening pale coat and incredible grace at performing amazing high school dressage. If you grew up a horse lover, chances are you may even know a bit about their history from Disney’s classic Miracle Of The White Stallions. As many may know, the Lipizzan is gray, not white. What many don’t know is that they are born dark and gradually lighten with age, not achieving the “white” coat for which they are known until around 6-10 years of age. Just 200 years ago, according to the Lipizzan Association of North America, you could find black, brown, chestnut, dun, piebald and skewbald Lipizzans. Today, they still get a black or a brown every once in a while. There are eight foundation stallions that the various registries recognize. They do not all recognize all eight. Six of them are from the original Lipizza stud farm lines. Those six stallions were not all gray.
The Lipizzaner breed dates back to the 16th century, where they were first bred as the personal mounts of the Hapsburg monarchy, part of the Holy Roman Empire. While the breed is closely associated with Vienna, Austria (which was the capital of the Hapsburg monarch for most of its existence), the horse is actually named for one of the earliest stud farms that was located in the village Lipizza (Lipica), in what is now Slovenia. The famous “Airs Above the Ground” was actually used in battle against the enemy. Amazing. Lipizzaner have very specific registration guidelines when it comes to their names. Male horses (stallions or geldings) must have the name of the foundation stallion as the first word in their name. For the second, the name of the dam. For mares, names should end in “a.” And what happens with duplicates? Roman Numerals are assigned to distinguish between horses. Half-Lippizzan mares are not allowed to use traditional Lipizzan names or roman numerals. According to the Lipizzan International Federation, there are only 10,000 Lipizzaner on four continents (Europe, America, Africa and Australia).
Though these are not the famous Spanish Riding School horses, Herrmann’s Lipizzans in Myakka City, Florida are the same breed of horses developed by the Hapsburgs of Austria for the famous Spanish Riding School in Vienna – a beautiful mix of Andalusian and Arabian horses. Many of the ancestors of the current horses were rescued by General George S. Patton in the 1940s and made their way to America in the 1960s. It was Colonel Herrmann that developed this ranch in Myakka City Florida to see that the horses were cared for and trained in the European style. Performances, which are actually training sessions, take place three days per week (weather permitting because they are outdoors). The bleacher seats are uncomfortable – but the performance is only 90 minutes long. Look for a seat in the shady section covered by trees. The venue is not elegant like the performances in Vienna, nor as perfectly choreographed, costumed, and performed, but still worth a visit. This ranch also rescues horses and carefully breeds Lipizzan horses for the future. Admission is $10 per adult payable by cash or check. Children are free. They are now open through April and have plenty of room for social distancing. If you prefer to bring your own chairs, you are welcome to do so.
Thursday and Friday, shows begin at 3:00pm; gate opens at 2:00pm. Saturday shows are at 10:00am; gate opens at 9:00am. You can visit the stables before and after the performance but they discourage feeding the horses.
Location and information:
Colonel Herrmann’s Royal Lipizzaner Stallions, 32755 Singletary Rd, Myakka City, FL 34251. Phone: 941-322-1501
Photo and information credits: herrmannfarm.com, tripadvisor.com,mustdo.com,sarasotamagazine.com, englewoodbeachresorts.com,pinterest, heraldtribune.com, whitesandbeachresort.com, ocala.com, visitflorida.com, cowgirlmagazine.com,patch.com, ihearthorses.com