Ya'll come on down !

Saturday, May 16, 2009

The world famous Royal Lipizzaner Stallions

The name Lipizzaner, taken from one of the earliest stud farms established, near the Kras village of Lipica (spelled "Lipizza" in Italian), in modern-day Slovenia. Closely associated with the Spanish Riding School of Vienna, Austria. The Lipizzaners are world renowned for their regal grace while performing the haute ecole or "high school" movements of classical dressage, including acrobatic jumps and other highly controled movements known as the "airs above the ground."

Lipizzaners average 15-16 hands in height (60-64 in., or 152-164cm) and weigh about 1,000-1,300lbs. (450-585kg.). Having a long back and a short, thick neck. This light breed of horse is born black or dark brown gradually turning gray or white by the time they reach the age of 5-8 years old. This sturdy, compact breed of horse was developed from Spanish, Italian, Danish and Arab stock and are most notably bred and trained at the Spanish Riding School in Vienna. The foundation of this breed, having six strains, dates back to 1580.

Enduring many wartime re locations over the centuries, preventing the extinction of the breed. Beginning with the First War of Coalition in 1797 and again in 1805 when Napoleon invaded Austria. Again being moved three more times during the unsettled period of Austria following the Peace of Sschonbrunn in 1809. Finally returning to Lipica in 1815 where they remained until the 20th century during WWI in 1915. Then again in WWII during the high command of Nazi Germany in 1942 where they were moved to St. Martins Austria. Perhaps the most notable rescue in 1945 due to the fear of slaughter for horse meat if captured by the Soviet Army. The call went out to the near by United States Third Army commanded by a horseman and former Olympic competitor, General George S Patton and also the United States Second Calvary, commanded by Colonel Charles Reed. Following an exhibition of the noble stallions by the head of the Spanish Riding School, Colonel Alois Podhajsky requested the horses be taken under General Patton's' protection. This endeavor later made famous by the Disney movie Miracle of the White Stallions.

Originally intended to be used in warfare these awe-inspiring movements have been preserved throughout the centuries as classical equestrian art. I have had the unique pleasure of seeing these magnificent animals perform their exhilarating maneuvers and I must say it is truly a jaw dropping experience. It was absolutely an edge of your seat performance. I would implore everyone to go and see them the next time they are in your area. I have only found one link so far that tours but I will continue my search and keep you posted of any other links I find and gladly post them here for your convenience.

Saturday, May 9, 2009

Day 2 : wild thang

The second day was much like the first day, in that, it was a gorgeous day. Sunny and warm, birds singing, a nice breeze blowing. I went to the barn to begin the second day with my lil mare. My reception was not as welcoming as I had hoped. She seemingly had ill feelings about the goings on the day before. She pinned her ears back as I walked into the stall to snap the lead on her halter. Yep, she was still pissed about her new situation. She never did "hook up" with me the day before, so she was still in the mind set that she was tolerating me being in her world. Well, I got news for her. The times they are a changin'. So she better just get over it. We are gonna be friends whether she realises it now or not. Cause I tend to grow on ya over time, like moss on a shady rock. I knew, the moment I scratched her under her chin for the first time the day before, that she would eventually come around to the notion that I wasn't so bad after all. This day went much like the previous day, in that, we just repeated everything we had done already. That's the key ya see. Repetition. Practice makes perfect and so on and so on. And too, with horses everything you do on one side you have to repeat on the other side. They are what ya call two sided animals. If they get used to you petting them on the right side of their neck, you have to get them used to petting the left side also. It doesn't just follow through to the other side automatically. A good part of the day was dedicated to what is called "sacking out". Which involves waving around a feed sack or anything else that might frighten them. And yielding to pressure, which means to move away from different types of pressure. By either physical pressure on their body in certain areas or regions, or moving them with body language. She did really well after she got over the initial ill mood she had when I first got there. Everything went smoothly and calmly. Almost too easily it seemed. I don't want to push her too quickly nor make any mistakes because I want her to learn well. I'm just incredibly excited to finally be able to, and have something to, ride again. I lost both of by boys a few years ago all in the same summer. My 30 year old Appaloosa gelding to old age, and my almost 6 year old Mustang stud to colic. Damn, that sucked. What a blow. I miss them terribly but now, there is new hope and dreams. This lil mare is out of my Mustang stud and my sisters Quarter Horse mare (Which also died a year or so ago of old age). So, it stands without saying that the past few years for me have not been the greatest for horses. This is why I am so excited to have this new beginning a new start with a horse to ride. Not being able to like like I used to has been really hard for me, it's like a part of me had died with my boys.

wild thang day

Wednesday April 29th was the beginnin of a what I hope to be a wonderful new friendship. This was the day that I finally got my hands on my lil mustang mare, 7 years after she was born on our farm. Oh, make no mistakes about it, she was not a happy camper. But, later in the day, she began to come around to the idea of us being friends. Well, sort of. Ya gotta understand that in those 7 years, she had gotten pretty used to doin things her way. So, in the beginning, she put up a good fight. she refused to hook up with me at all. She merely tolerated me being in the round pen with her and pretended to comply with my ques to change directions and whoa on cammand. Even after a few hours, she still refused to turn and face me when given the command to whoa. For those who dont know, whoa means to stop and just stand there. It took the longest time to be able to walk up to her and touch her without her moving away from me. And still another hour or two before I got a halter on her. But, she still refused to turn and face me. Eventually, when I would stop her and approach, she would pin her ears back and throw her head towards me, which is a sign of aggresion, I decided Right then that a change of tactics were in order. That's when my buddy got the lasso and roped her. Naturally she was pretty pissed off about it and threw a hissy fit, pulling and tugging, trying to get away. It didnt take long before she realised she wasn't getting free and began to settle back down. He started her moving around the round pen again and gave her the command to whoa and she ignored him, then another command to whoa. This time, when she ignored the command, he gave a sharp yank on the rope and spun her around to face him as she came to a stop a few feet in front of him. After repeating this tactic, only a few times, she started to come around to the concept of what she was supposed to do. This was a huge turning point in the rest of the day. From that point on, her resistance dropped dramatically and things began falling into place quite quickly. After a short time I could touch her any where even in her flanks and around her belly, which are very sensitive places on a horse, due to their prey animal instincts. I even picked up her front feet with no trouble, I even led my dad around on her back for a few minutes with total compliance. Before putting her back in her stall, to a nice reward of sweet feed and hay for the night, I led her to get a cool, refreshing, drink of water and just hung out with her for a while as she grazed leisurely on the fresh green grass in the barn lot. It was a perfect ending to a long day.