60th Anniversary Lipizzan Salute to the Veterans of WWII

Photo by Robbin Cresswell

Bana Conversano and Sue Ott of Proud Meadows will dazzle the crowd with 4 other Lipizzans and a very rare Cleveland Bay as they perform in honor of the 60th anniversary of WWII.

The Lipizzan has had a very rich and dramatic past. It was once a horse reserved exclusively for nobility, but on numerous occasions was faced with the ravages of war. During World War I the horses were moved for their protection to the snowy mountainsides, for fear of their safety, but sadly by the end of the war (1919) there were only 208 Lipizzans known to be left. Italy received 109 horses for its stud farm in Lipizza and Piber stud farm in Austria received 98 horses. This was hardly enough horses to ensure a strong future. The Lipizzans were once again evacuated during World War II they narrowly escaped obliteration thanks to the bravery of the American Army.  In 1945, General Patton along with the efforts of the Spanish Riding School’s director, Alois Podhajsky, and the bravery of the United States Army’s 2nd Cavalry executed a daring rescue of the Lipizzans. A band containing 150 mares, foals, and stallions were captured from enemy territory and marched to safety. This dramatic episode is documented in The Walt Disney movie, “THE MIRACLE OF THE WHITE STALLIONS.”  Even though the horses were saved the war did take its toll and the Lipizzan breed numbered less than 200. Today there are Lipizzan stud farms in America, Austria, Slovenia, Slovakia, Hungary, Romania, and Bulgaria, as well as South Africa, Australia, France, and Germany, but the breed is still considered rare with the worldwide population numbering less than 3500. America is home to and estimated 1,500 Lipizzans.

The Lipizzan horse represents over 400 years of select breeding. They not only possess beauty and nobility, but also a

rare combination of courage, strength, ability, temperament, and intelligence.

Lipizzans are late maturing and long lived, many times to 35 or more years of age. They are born black or bay and slowly

Sue Ot on Bana Concersano, AKA "Desche"

turn “white” by the time they are five to eight years of age. Lipizzan horses are not fully-grown in size until they are seven and do not reach full maturity until almost ten years of age. Rarely does a Lipizzan stay black or brown. The Spanish Riding School keeps one of each on the premises at all times for “luck.” The Southwest Lipizzan Association is no exception and will have a rare bay Lipizzan, Maestoso Gaela at the expo. He represents one of and estimated 35 Bay Lipizzan horses in the world. Lipizzans are of sound, heavy bone and lameness is rare. Their powerful hindquarters allow them to carry themselves with a natural balance. Training does not begin with a Lipizzan until the fourth year, but a Lipizzan can and often does continue to perform well beyond 25 years of age. Bana Conversano is 20 years old and is at the peak of his career.  The training emphasizes praise rather than punishment and takes many years — usually with the same trainer.

There are six Stallion lines of the Lipizzan as known today: they are CONVERSANO, FAVORY, MAESTOSO, NEAPOLITANO, PLUTO, and SIGLAVY. There are also 23 mare lines. A Lipizzan stallion has a duel name, the line he originates from and the name of his Dam. Lipizzan mares have one name that is usually a feminine name ending in the vowel “a.” It is strongly suggested fillies are named with the same first letter of their Dam. There are two registries in the United States today that ensure the horses are DNA typed and recorded. The United States Lipizzan Registry and the Lipizzan Association of North America.


Sue Ott of Proud Meadows prepares
Bana Conversano for the May 14-15
Equine Expo of Texasin Fort Worth, Texas

The Equine Expo of Texas will be a good place to introduce yourself to the bred. There will be horses on hand for viewing and lots of information about the breed. Perhaps by the time the official Spanish Riding School visits Houston on December 10th and 11th the public will be ready to give them a warm welcome.

So please come celebrate with the Southwest Lipizzan Association on this anniversary year. It would be a great loss to the world if this cherished breed were forever lost. The Lipizzan horses will be performing an “American Tribute” to the veterans of World War II to publicly thank them for the dramatic rescue of our breed a the Equine Expo of Texas (www.EquineExpoOfTexas.com) on May 14-15 in Fort Worth.

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