The Lipizzan is a horse that was created out of over 400 years of select breeding from horses all over the world to reap the benefits of multiple breeds. They are not only a beautiful and noble breed, but also they have distinctive characteristics like courage, ability, strength, intelligence, and temperament. The story of the Lipizzan horse goes back to 1580 when Archduke Charles II established a stud farm in Lipizza (hence, where the horse got its name). He used the best Spanish horses such as Andalusians, Barbs, and Berbers and bred them with the local Karst horse, which is where the Lipizzan horse received its high rising gait.
The Lipizzan went through a number of different breeding, specifically during the 1700s and the 1800s. The horses on the original stud were moved three times during the Napoleonic Wars, but Napoleon gained possession of the horses for a short time, in which time he had bred some with his Arabian horses. As time went by, many other Arabian horses were bred with the Lipizzans. By 1880, there were 341 Lipizzan horses at the Lipizza stud farm; all the sires were used throughout the 18th and 19th centuries. Only six of them made up the original stallions of the breed. They were: "Siglavy", "Neopalotono", "Maestoso", "Favory", "Pluto", and "Conversano". Two other stallions are also accepted as equal parts of the foundation of the breed; they are "Tulipan," the progenitor the Croatian stud farm in Terezovac founded by Count Jankovic; and "Incitato," the progenitor of the Hungarian line.
The Lipizzan, or Lipizzaner horse as it is sometimes called, have a specific place where they are train called the Spanish Riding School. In fact, many training methods specifically developed for the Lipizzan horse were conceived there and are based on classical dressage. The training method and the horses were developed to impart certain behaviors; not only were they bred for military use, but others were developed for exhibitions at European royal households.
The predecessors of many breeds such as the Lipizzan are referred to as Baroque Horses. The horses are brought to the school when they are four years old and it takes a full six years to complete their training and to be a member of the School Quadrille.
The Lipizzan even has a special name for the higher-level dressage movements they perform; they are called "the air above the ground".
World War II was seen as a hard time for these horses; they were stolen by the Nazis and constantly threatened by bombing raids. They eventually escaped to upper Austria. Although they were safe from being bombed, food was in shortage for people and horses and starving refugees would attempt to steal the horses for food.
In 1959, eight Lipizzan horses were imported to New York by a brewery and Lipizzan and Lipizzan Arab crossbreeds were used for the movie 'Ben Hur' as chariot racing horses. They were also featured in the 1963 Walt Disney motion picture 'Miracle of the White Stallions".