The South African Lipizzaners
by Rowena Marella-
Original Article: http://www.billionaire.com/culture/2935/alabaster-
The suburb of Kyalami, Johannesburg, is home to the Lipizzaners equestrian centre and a magnificent set of white stallions.
The Lipizzaner breed goes back to the late 1500s when superior stock such as Andalusian horses and Neapolitans from Italy were cross-
Meanwhile, Count Jankovic-
The South African Lipizzaner centre was borne out of an opportune meeting between Count Jankovic-
With the help of corporate sponsors, the centre operated successfully for decades, until the financial crash of 2008 almost forced its closure. Left with just two weeks of food for the horses, saving the stud farm, stables and training school was paramount, and had it not been for a team of dedicated riders and horse lovers who bravely took over the reins despite inheriting a huge debt, the centre would not have survived. By sheer determination and hard work, coupled with much-
A visit to the Lipizzaner centre was the highlight of my Johannesburg jaunt, a rare privilege to witness a special bond between riders and their horses as they train and rehearse for the Sunday show. It was sheer joy to watch these stallions exude grace, stamina and good nature as they were put through their paces. “The welfare of the horse is always our first concern. Each horse has an individual training programme,” said Judy Vertue, one of the directors instrumental to resuscitating the centre. Her passion shone through as she explained the rudiments of technique and choreography. “We have the philosophy here that the experienced horses teach the less-
Until recently, the riders of the South African Lipizzaner centre have always been female. In contrast, the Spanish Riding School in Vienna, with which it maintains close ties, is traditionally all-
On a sunny Sunday morning, along with fellow spectators, I marvelled at the magical moment when these almost mythical horses and their riders dressed in bright red coats paraded around the arena. In total synchronicity with classical music, nifty hooves trotted, cantered and performed the pas de deux, piaffe, quadrille, levade, courbette, side saddle, and the most breathtaking airs above the ground jump, the capriole. This movement, whereby the stallion leaps in the air and kicks with its hindquarters, requires enormous power. Not all stallions get to achieve this — only the talented ones — and requires years of patient training. At the end of the show we mingled with the riders and fed carrots to the stallions. This was also an opportunity to find out more about sponsoring one of the horses through the charity Friends of the Lipizzaners. I met the centre’s top stallion, ‘Favory Modena’, who even in retirement still exudes pride and spirit.
The Lipizzaners are part of South Africa’s heritage, and it is the centre’s mission to preserve the bloodline and centuries-