Lipizzaner pizzazz

The biggest stars ever from the small country of Slovenia are about to hit the stage in Rochester.

" The World Famous Lipizzaner Stallions," as the show is known, return to Mayo Civic Center for a performance Feb. 18.

The famed white stallions take their name from the village of Lipizza, formerly in the Italian-speaking part of the Austrian Habsburg empire, but now part of independent Slovenia.

In Slovene, the village is known as Lipica. It was in what is now Lipica that Archduke Charles II established in 1580 a stud farm for breeding Lipizzaners, the acrobatic white horses so loved by royalty.

When "The World Famous Lipizzaner Stallions" show was developed 41 years ago, producer Gary Lashinsky brought horses and riders to North America from Europe. Lashinsky continues to buy horses from a stud farm at Piber, Austria, but the family trees of some of those horses reach all the way back to the original Lipizza stud farm.


The horses are famous, of course, for their leaping ability. Performances include intricate dressage and the so-called airs above the ground.

More facts and figures about the Lipizzaners:

The movie

The horses were featured in a 1963 Disney movie, "The Miracle of the White Horses," which told the story of the rescue of the horses from almost sure annihilation near the end of World War II.

The horses were rescued by the U.S. Army's 2nd Calvary under the direct orders of Gen. George Patton.


Horses in "The World Famous Lipizzaner Stallions" show are trained for six to eight years at the company's equestrian center in Orlando, Fla. They are usually paired with a rider who becomes the horse's onstage partner.

When not touring and performing, the horses train for 45 minutes a day.


On stage

Individual horses in the show perform for about 15 to 20 minutes nightly, up to five days a week. Age-wise, the horses perform into their 20s.

The tours

The horses travel like royalty, in climate-controlled vehicles and are housed in pre-inspected stables, often returning to the same places year after year. The tour visits about 140 cities each year — and seems to make Rochester just about every other year.

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