The South African Lipizzaners

Equine lovers looking for a treat whilst visiting South Africa might well enjoy the performance of the South African Lipizzaners. The only Lipizzaner centre in the world that is recognised by and affiliated with the Spanish Riding School in Vienna, it is one of the few places where you will be privileged to enjoy these delightful white dancers being put through their paces in an educative and enjoyable way.

The story of the South African Lipizzaners starts in 1944 when a select few of these stunning creatures were rescued from then war-torn Austria and brought back to South Africa. The man responsible for this was Count Jankovich-Besan. He kept his beloved stallions at Kyalami and begun the centre. The horses used at the Lipizzaner centre here today are descendents from his original horses.

The Lipizzaner centre in Kyalami may be run a little differently from the one in Vienna, but the age-old principles of high-school riding, training and breeding are maintained. In fact, the South African Lipizzaners maintain close association with their Viennese counterparts and riders may even be privileged enough to receive training and instruction from prominent members of the Spanish Riding School from time to time.

Any horse lover will already know that the Lipizzaner is an animal which was bred for its noble physique, ability to learn, liveliness, graceful movements, toughness, stamina and courage. That all the horses used in performances are stallions is a testament not only to the horse’s good nature, but also to the tried and tested techniques which have been so carefully preserved by the Spanish Riding School of Vienna.

While the vast majority of Lipizzaners are born black and gradually turn silvery-white, there are those special few who stay black or brown. The South African Lipizzaner Centre currently has two bay stallions which will hopefully ensure that their breeding stock is never limited to only white offspring. In addition there is also a young black colt who shows signs of maintaining his black coloring into adulthood.

The South African Lipizzaners have become a very important part of the country’s cultural heritage and should not be missed. Performances are held every Sunday at 10:30 at the Lipizzaner Centre’s indoor hall in Kyalami. It lasts approximately an hour and refreshments and memorabilia are available. Visit the official South African Lipizzaner website for more information.