Last Friday night we went and saw the amazing Lipizzaner Stallions and what a treat it was!
Before I start writing about this, I do have to apologize for the quality of the pictures. The lighting, the movement and the HUGE head of the guy sitting in front of me all seemed to conspire to defeat my best efforts at photography. That said, I am writing this blog so I have a diary of our travels and since these are the best of a pretty bad lot, I wanted to include them here. That way, when I'm too old to remember such events, I'll have this blog to look back on!
All right, enough apologies, on with the story.
In case you don't know about the Lipizzaners, they are an amazing breed of horse. They have been trained in Austria for hundreds of years. I first became aware of them from the 1963 Walt Disney film, the Miracle of the White Stallions and was really excited to finally get to see them in person. I wasn't disappointed at all.
My first surprise came when we arrived and saw the horses being groomed outside the arena. Everything I've ever heard led me to think all the riders would be men, but I saw this woman grooming one of the horses, and in fact when we saw the show, half the riders were women.
Here's one more shot of one of the horses outside the arena.
We had great seats, first row of the second tier. The first rider came into the arena carrying an American Flag, and then galloped the stallion around the ring. While this picture is quite blurry, there's something about it that appealed to me. While many of the pictures are blurred, they serve to remind me of the speed and fluid movement of these beautiful animals.
This next shot is of two of the riders, saluting the audience. I love these uniforms and particularly enjoy the fact that they work equally well on men and women alike.
This next shot is just of a horse and rider posing, but I liked the way the shadows played in all four directions.
The Lipizzaners are famous for many things, one of them being their ability to rear up and walk or hop on their hind legs. This movements is called the Levade. While I didn't catch the horse at the full rise, this should give you an idea.
These horses were originally trained for battle and they have the ability to jump up and kick out with both their front and rear legs. It's truly an amazing thing to see. The movement is called the Capriole, and while this picture is blurred, all four feet are off the ground and it was the best shot I got of this incredible maneuver.
This horse is an Andalusian that performs with the Lipizzaners. He comes out and actually dances to swing music, very beautiful. At the end of the number, he takes a graceful bow.
During World War II, the Lipizzaners were in danger of extinction. The school was closed, the mares were moved by the Nazis into Czechoslovakia and the stallions were in danger of being disbanded. Thanks to General George Patton and the US Army, the horses were saved and reunited. This is a story that's included in the show and it's a moving tribute that everyone in the troop seems proud to share.
In the final part of the show, six horses and riders come out and perform in unison (sort of like the Rockettes at Radio City Music Hall!). It's really impressive and I wish my pictures were better, but what can I say?
The evening was so enjoyable, I highly recommend this show. In fact, I just heard that the Spanish troop (we viewed the American arm of the school) will be touring the US in 2008. I have already marked my computer calendar to remind me when the tickets go on sale. It will be in May of 2008, in case you want to mark your calendar as well.