With a visit to the Spanish Riding School in bustling Vienna under our belts, we made the trip to Slovenia and to the bucolic Lipica Stud, the cradle of the Lipizzaner horse. With a hotel right on the grounds and the stables just a short walk away, Lipica is friendly and welcoming to visitors and eager to share their treasure, the Lipizzan horse. Since 1580 Lipizzans have been bred here uninterrupted with the goal of preserving this special and iconic breed. With approximately 350 horses on the stud a visit here is truly a special experience. Foals are raised in groups and not weaned until they are six months old. Every day they run with their mothers to spend the day playing in the large, fertile pastures with big old Oak and Linden trees. People from not only around the world but also from the local area come to enjoy this scene. On a rainy day the air is fragrant with the scent of lavendar and linden, a truly sensory experience! The mild weather of the Karst region makes for ideal conditions to raise horses. Italy and Croatia are nearby, so day trips to explore the region make for fun adventures.
The foals are weaned at the age of six months and at that time they are divided by sexes and continue to grow and live in herds. the stallions move to a nearby stud and play and spar together until they are four years old. At four years they start their training, and all the horses are trained and evaluated before they are added to the breeding groups. Many stallions and geldings train and compete in dressage and in harness and are worked on a regular basis.
Lipica has performances open to the public on a daily basis, guided tours of the stud in several different languages and their beautiful museum and gift shop are not to be missed. They also host competitions of all sorts and we were treated to some world class driving while we were there. What a thrill to see the best the of the sport from around the world competing on a perfect day!
I took many thousands of images during our week there, please take a look through this gallery to get an idea of the beauty of this place and it's wonderful horses. I hope to return again soon.