In Szilvásvárad you will discover the noble Lippizzaner breed of horses, whose long and illustrious history mirrors the aristocratic roots put down by the Habsburgs throughout Central Europe.
A relative latecomer to Hungary, today the Lipizzaner has become one of the iconic breeds of the horse loving Magyar people. The breed originally was started by Archduke Karl in 1580 during his time as Habsburg governor of what is today Slovenia.
In Lippica – presently found on the border between Slovenia and Italy –he established a stud far. Berber, Arabic and Spanish stocks were blended with a hearty equine breed from the Karst plateau around Lippica.
It would be another two and a quarter centuries before the breed came to Hungary. They first arrived as exiles in southeastern Hungary, when the Habsburgs moved the Lipizzaners from their home to avoid the Napoleonic Army cutting a wide swath through the area. Eventually they would be transported to several other destinations in Europe belatedly arriving in Szilvásvárad by the mid- 20th century.
The climate and feeding ground of the Bukk Hills was similar to what they had grown used to on the Karst Plateau.
Don’t let the beautiful white coat of a mature Lipizzaner fool you, they are something of chameleons. Throughout their youth they sport a dark coat, only around the age of five does it almost magically transform into creamy white. Even this is deceiving though, get up close to a Lipizzaner and you will notice that white coat actually turns grey when they sweat.
Watching a striding Lipizzaner in action is a must see experience. Marvel as these stout striders showcase their balanced gait and calm temperament. This is where you can see the breed at its most noble. One of the best places to view beautiful Lipizzaners is in Szilvasvarad at the Horsebreeding Exhbition.
An entire stable awaits your curiosity.
If what you really yearn for is a ride head to the Lipizzaner stud farm which costs just 2,500 forints an hour. Here you can feel like royalty without royal prices. Saddle up!
written by CHRIS WILKINSON
edited by CHRIS KOVACS
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