California Riding Magazine • May, 2013

Look at a Lipizzaner!
Rare breed is more attainable than many think and capable of making dreams come true.

by Susanne Desai • photos by Lynne Grazer

Dreams can come true if you wish to ride one of the oldest and rarest breeds of classical horses. My dream started on the Dream Horse website where I found a beautiful and very affordable stallion for sale and, sight-unseen, brought him home to my farm in San Diego County's Elfin Forest. The moment he walked off the trailer I knew he was unusual and very special. There are only an estimated five thousand Lipizzaners worldwide
and there are only two that I know of in San Diego County.

Lipizzaners have been bred in Europe for over 400 years and the Spanish Riding School in Vienna keeps stallions and mares from each line. There are six lines of stallions and many mare families. In the old traditions horses are born with the name of their parents. My Pluto Fantasia is a direct descendent of a Pluto born in 1765 from the Royal Danish Stud. On his father's side, he carries the mare line Famosa. If you have a chance to travel to Austria, you can watch all the stallions perform what they have learned to perform for centuries at the Spanish Riding School. If you want to stay in California, the director of the Spanish Riding School Andreas Hausberger will be teaching a clinic July 9-13. It will take place in the beautiful coastal town of Carmel at Across the Diagonal Farm, home to dressage judge (USEF "S") Jennifer Roth. For more information visit

If you are looking for a dressage horse that can perform all the classical dressage moves and also has the strength to excel in the "airs above ground" movements, yet is affordable and trainable, this is the breed for you. Lipizzaners are also used for trail and cross-country in other parts of the U.S.

When Pluto Fantasia arrived he was a stallion. I planned to geld him and my plans quickened as my two old broodmares quickly came into cycle and I got to see just how long he could hold a levade planning his escape. He did escape and he was gelded but, at age 5, he was a perfect gelding. It is my experience that when scared or angry, Lipizzaners react by jumping in the air or holding moves. Bucking and rearing are not in their repertoire.

Lipizzaners are long-living, easy keeping horses that are durable and easily build a relationship with their owners. With love and consistent, gymnastic classical dressage work they can exceed expectations. Doing Pat Parelli natural horsemanship work, they are often categorized as left-brain introverts.

There is one dominant color, grey that turns to white after age 7, but other colors are well known. Many people love bay and black Lipizzaners. Piebald is a color that may make a comeback. Although compact in nature, the Lipizzaner has a huge forward movement and has the build to take up your leg. There are only a few breeders that try to replicate what has been done so well for many years but you can find breeders in California. Look at to find the Lipizzaner of North America website listing breeders and links to all things Lipizzaner. You may also want to go for a training session with or without your horse at the new Heldenberg Training Center in Austria, which is unlocking for the first time ever many years of secret knowledge passed down from generations of Classical Dressage Masters. For more information go to

For your next horse consider the dream of riding a rare Lipizzaner!