White Lipizzaner stallions will be performing the famous airs above the ground throughout Britain during April and May, but the 14 equine acrobats hail not from the Spanish Riding School in Vienna, but from the USA.
When the “World Famous Lipizzaner Stallions” last appeared in the UK in 2000, many horse lovers bought tickets for their performances, mistakenly believing that the troupe was from the Spanish Riding School itself.
In fact, the horses are purchased from the stud farm in Piber where the Vienna horses are also bred, and the American troupe is presented in much the same way, with similar costumes and performance routines.
Gary Lashinsky, producer of the American show, is not a horse trainer but a theatrical promoter whose other work includes rock concert tours and Broadway productions.
Technical advice has been sought from Col Alois Podhajsky, former chief rider in Vienna, and dressage trainer Wolfgang Delafonte, and Lashinsky maintains that the horses are trained along classical dressage lines.
The Spanish Riding School itself has always been dismissive of its competitors, and director Dr Werner Pohl says: “The American Lipizzaner stallions are really just a show group, whereas the Spanish Riding School has a 400-year tradition of training horses and riders in classical equitation.”
Lashinsky responds: “We have made it clear that although we emulate the Spanish Riding School, we are here to provide entertainment and take this wonderful horse to as many people as possible. We have toured all over the world for 33 years.”
For more details about the World Famous Lipizzaner Stallions forthcoming tour visit www.lipizzaner.com
Read the full story in this week’s Horse & Hound (27 February), or click here to subscribe and enjoy Horse & Hound delivered to your door every week.