I’ve lived 20 minutes away from Tempel Lipizzan Farm for over 30 years, yet never managed to attend a show. I drove past the rolling pastures, caught sight of the horses munching grass, and told myself that someday soon I would make the time to visit. I even bought tickets a few times, only to have plans fall through.
Then, a few weeks ago, as I poked around Facebook, I found mention of “Behind the Scenes” tours on the farm’s page. These tours were short—only an hour and fifteen minutes or so—and took place on the second Saturday morning of the month. I liked the idea of seeing some of the horses up close, touring a barn, and learning about training regimens, so I bought tickets for the February 10th show.
The first part of the tour took place in the stallion stable. We met Favory Allura, who seemed cautious but interested in the gaggle of humans that had gathered in front of his stall. We learned about naming protocols (discussed is this blog post by Judith Tarr), lineages (Tempel Farms has horses from each of the six classic Lipizzan bloodlines), and some of the history of the breed and the farm itself. We also learned that stallions have stable buddies–Favory Allura’s buddy is his next door neighbor, Favory VIII Ivana.
As a rule, Lipizzans are born dark and lighten as they age. But some, like Maestoso (Legeny) Batrina, remain dark.
After talking a bit more about stallion behavior, breeding, and other topics, we left the stable and followed our guide down the corridor that led into the training ring.
There, three of the young—all in their 20s—trainers demonstrated different levels of dressage gaits and talked about training. The stallions they rode covered a broad age range, from 7 to 14 to 20. The 7 year old was being trained in some basic gaits, while the 14 year old practiced more advanced skills and the 20 year old–pretty sure his name was Pluto Ambrosia III–was, iirc, undergoing rehab from an injury.
I should have taken notes, but I was busy taking photos and petting Bana (Conversano Garcia), the 14 year old. He is one of the star performers, and is a lovely boy who insisted on nibbling on the railing when he wasn’t smelling my gloves.
I was struck by how calm and patient these horses were. I also decided that I need to return this summer to see a performance.