Tuesday, July 30, 2013

The Mane Attraction: White Lipizzaner Stallions Show Off Their Moves at Tempel Farms

Attraction / Performance Recap

Tempel Lipizzans
at Tempel Farms
Wadsworth, IL
Thru Sept. 22 (for 2013 season)

Dating back over 440 years, the Spanish Riding School is a prime tourist attraction in Vienna, Austria. Part of the Hofburg Palace complex, it presents showcase performances of white Lipizzaner stallions performing various exercises and maneuvers.

Though I have been to Vienna, I did not catch a Lipizzan show due to our schedules being incompatible.

However the only other place in the world that I'm aware of having Lipizzan horses on display happens to be just 45 minutes from my home, in Wadsworth, Illinois, close to the Wisconsin border.

On Saturday, I visited Tempel Farms and enjoyed a matinee performance, preceded by a hot dog at their outdoor cafe and followed by a walk through the stables.

I won't say that the 90-minute performance, divided into 7 program segments, was the most exciting thing I've ever witnessed, but it was enjoyable enough to merit my going, and unlike I was told in Vienna, photography was fully allowed.

Per the printed program:
The Tempel Lipizzans began in 1958 when the late Tempel and Esther Smith imported their first 20 Lipizzans from the Austrian state stud farm in Piber and started what became the largest privately owned herd of Lipizzans in the world.
The performance features stallions of varying ages, who are born black or brown and whiten with age, reaching their characteristic whiteness between 7 and 10 years.

Accompanied by pre-recorded, mostly classical music from the likes of Mozart, Johann Strauss, Tschaikovsky, Haydn and Richard Rogers, the performance program consisted of:

-  Mares and Foals
- Carriage Tradition
- Young Stallions
- Pas De Deux: An Education in Classical Dressage
- All Steps and Movements of the Classical School
- Work in Hand/Airs Above the Ground

- Quadrille

I think the one I liked best was "Airs Above the Ground," which included the horses standing on their hind legs (known as a Levade movement), and also jumping (Courbette and Capriole, the latter involving kicking out the hind legs).

All attendees are invited into the stables after the performance. This was a real treat, not only given the rarity of me being in a stable environment--rimshot, please--but in addition to seeing and sometimes petting the horses, it allowed for conversation with some of the riders and trainers.

All in all, it made for a rather fun couple of hours, and though Vienna is wonderful, it's nice to know such beautiful white horses can be seen in action a lot closer to home.

Here's a gallery of some of my best photos, followed by a brief video of one of the exercises.

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