The striking white Lipizzaner stallions of the famed Spanish Riding School in Vienna have been thrilling audiences for centuries. During the winter public performance season, the horses execute breathtaking displays of carefully choreographed and synchronized movements known as high classical dressage. This film looks at how horses bred for war developed into living works of art.
Viewable online until 01/11/2017:
Legendary White Stallions is a Nature documentary produced by the Public Broadcasting Service. First aired in 2013, the show was recently broadcast again on PBS networks and is viewable online until January 11th, 2017.
The documentary takes an in-depth look at the history, the breeding, the training, and the sheer art of the famed Lipizzaners. The breed’s roots are traced back to the Berbers in Northern Africa. They were horses suited for both the desert and the icy mountain landscape, for both war and companionship. They were horses with the hearts of lions and with the beauty and grace of a ballerina.
The breeding program harbors records dating back centuries, and the program is rigorous, ceremonial, and has long been perfected. The stallions’ bloodlines all trace back to a mere six studs, and the mares are all carefully assessed—only those who are as affectionate as they are talented in dressage will be bred. All foals are born black or brown, and over the course of six years their coat transforms into the classic, haunting white for which the breed is known. Acclimation to and bonding with humans is begun from birth, for the true beauty of the Lipizzaners lies in their close relationship with their trainer—the human is the artist, the horse the medium, and together they are the art.
The Spanish Riding School in Vienna is remarkable in its dedication to the breed and to the art. Compassion, the showcasing of talent, and the breathtaking harmony of horse and man are at the forefront of their program. Legendary White Stallions is a brilliant glimpse into the inner workings of the school and the magnificence of a breed that is truly the makings of legends.