Lipizzaners Center South Africa

The beauty and temperament of the Lipizzaners win the hearts of everyone who knows them.  The fact that they have survived to this day, when cavalry is obsolete, is entirely due to the determination of those whom they have served so well, for these people know their worth and are determined that this breed should not disappear. The Lipizzaners’ ability to withstand dangers and survive against countless odds, is part of their magnetism.

The ancestor of the Lipizzaner is the Iberian horse, the oldest horse breed in the world. He has emerged as one of the most beautiful and influential breeds of all time. Connected to warfare throughout the ages because of his amazing agility, strength, stamina, courage and loyalty, he became the most highly esteemed and sought after horse in the developing world.

With the expansion of the great Spanish Hapsburg Empire and the beginning of the 30 years war, Iberian horses were in demand by every European Military Leader. In 1582, the Austrian Archduke Charles 2nd, son of the Holy Roman Emperor, had some of the best horses in Spain sent to his newly established Stud at Lipizza.

Here they became known as Lipizzaners. Many times during their history, the Stud at Lipizza was threatened by destruction during war, and was destroyed and rebuilt 3 times until finally in 1920, they were moved to their current location at Piber. The Spanish Riding School was replaced on the instructions of Emperor Charles VI by the magnificent riding hall that we know today as the Spanish Riding School in Vienna.

The fate of the Lipizzaner horse has often been threatened by war.  In 1797 the herd had to leave Lipizza to escape capture in the Napoleonic�
Jankovich-Besan and his family, who had owned a Lipizzaner stud for generations, were forced to leave their home in Hungary. He was determined not to leave all his Lipizzaners to the advancing Russians.

He harnessed as many as possible to carts and carriages and set out through the snow, later arriving miraculously in Bavaria. Here, in order to escape being eaten, they were painted with oil and paraffin, so they looked dreadful and sick; the disguise worked. After the war, Count Jankovich-Besan took them to England, where they stayed for two years.

Again it was time to look for another home since everything had been lost in Hungary.  Count Jankovich-Besan came to South Africa and found a small farm outside of Mooi River. Late in 1948 he arrived with his family and a few months later his horses arrived by boat, the first flights and wanderings came to an end. Far from their native Hungary, in a lush corner of Natal, a new Lipizzaner stud had been born.

As a result of the second World War, Major George Iwanowski, an ex Polish Cavalry officer left his native Poland to come to South Africa in 1951.  He met Count Jankovich-Besan at the Royal Show in Pietermaritzburg, visited his stud and was offered a Lipizzaner to train, and thus ‘Maestoso Erdem’ became the first Lipizzaner to be seen demonstrating High School Dressage movements.

It was then that the idea was born, why not have a team of Lipizzaner Stallions able to give performances similar to those of The Spanish Riding School in Vienna.  So the training of the stallions began.  In 1960 development of the equestrian centre in Kyalami began, in 1969 the first indoor hall in South Africa was built. In 1971 Colonel Handler, Chief of The Spanish Riding School, opened their first regular Sunday performance.

Thus the Lipizzaner Centre in Kyalami has become the
only other centre in the world besides The Spanish Riding School which breeds, trains and presents the art of High School riding with regular performances on Lipizzaner stallions. At the centre today there are 30 stallions ranging in age from three to twenty three.  All six of the bloodlines are represented.  Favory, Maestoso, Conversano, Siglavy, Pluto and Neopolitano.

Everyone who knows and loves the Lipizzaners can be assured that the new directors of the kyalami centre (Maureen Dalglish, Adriaan van Wyk, Lilian Moller and Judy Vertue) are utterly devoted to ensuring the preservation of these very special and noble horses as a team in South Africa for present and future generations.

How you can help

We hope that there will always be those who realize the value of preserving something of grace and beauty. As an individual or as a company, we hope you will want to be part of preserving the future of these courageous horses in South Africa.

Come and join us every Sunday at the Lipizzaner Centre, Dahlia Road, Kyalami. Buy a ticket at the door or book via Computicket.  The performance starts at 10h30 and lasts approximately one hour. Please check on our website in case the team is travelling.
Donations are always welcome, please use the banking details below and fax your payment confirmation to 011 467-1868 and please include the names of all the people who have contributed.

Friends of the Lipizzaners
Nedbank, Epsom Downs
Code: 152203
Account Number: 1522043489

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