The famous white Lipizzaner Stallions are linked to the Spanish Riding School in Vienna, Austria, for training and performance in classical dressage. Developed by the royal Habsburg family, the breed is named after a stud farm located in Lipica, Slovenia (“Lipizza” in Italian). Established in 1580 by Archduke Charles II, after a turbulent history and multiple relocations, the stud farm has now returned to Lipica and is currently thriving.
Though the dressage itself taught at the school was rumored to be based on war tactics used by cavalry mounts while in battle, it is in fact based on muscle and strength training. Four-year-old stallions come to the Spanish Riding School to train for an average of six years. Only Lipizzaner stallions are trained today for performance at the Spanish Riding School, though mares can study driving in harness and English riding.
In 2008, the Spanish Riding School welcomed its first two female riders, Hannah Zeitlhofer, an Austrian twenty-one-year-old, and Sojurner Morell, an eighteen-year-old from the UK. The school stated that they had never officially banned women, despite being only employed by men for over four hundred years.
The Lipizzaner Stallions tour all over the world, including performing in the Winter Riding School at the Hofburg Palace, and are the national animals of Slovenia.