Is your family excited for the start of the Olympics next month? One of the things my family loves about the Olympics is seeing all the sports and athletes that are different and interesting and sometimes new to us. As you get into the Olympic spirit, you can see those high-quality and interesting athletes right in your own back yard!
The Tempel Lipizzans perform the Olympic sport of dressage. What is dressage?
[dressage] is a highly skilled form of riding performed in exhibition and competition, as well as an “art” sometimes pursued solely for the sake of master
… dressage is “the highest expression of horse training” where “horse and rider are expected to perform from memory a series of predetermined movements.”
~ Source Wikipedia
Some call it horse ballet. My family really had no idea what to expect when we went to opening weekend, but were all surprised by the experience.
As a dance mom I personally was in awe at how the trainers could get animals to walk in formation and stay together with such ease. I mean a group of five-year-olds can’t do that after a year of training! It was magical to watch as the rider and horse seem to move as one. My three-year-old sat through the first half of the show in absolute awe.
My oldest and husband are history buffs and were enthralled with the history. The Lipizzan breed was thought to be extinct, but was rescued by American soldiers during World War II. The Tempel Lipizzans began in 1958 when Tempel and Esther Smith imported their first 20 horses from Austria. It is the largest privately owned herd in the world.
The show is full of these facts and more as the horses are paraded through the arena. We were told if we wanted to get close to the horses to sit at the far stand (not the first when you walk in) and it was a great tip as the horses come right in from behind those stands. However if you want to see the footwork that the horses do you up close will want to sit in the first stand, as much of the fancy footwork is done around the gate which is closer to that end.
The performance starts with the introduction of the mares and foals from that year, much to the delight of my girls. They saw the horses lining up on the hill beyond the arena and squealed with joy as the foals made their way into the ring. The girls laughed as the young horses showed off the unpredictable nature of their age, much like toddlers.
The horses are born black or brown and lighten into the distinguished white color as they age, usually by age seven to ten. It’s thought to be good luck to have one dark horse in the stable, and since the Tempel Lipizzans do not breed for color, they do have a brown horse in the stable.
Visiting the stables and talking with the riders and trainers is part of the Tempel show experience. The barn opens up about 10 minutes after the show and you can take pictures with the horses and riders, ask questions and pet the horses. We learned that horses sweat just like us!
Here’s a little two-minute, sneak peek of the show. If you have never been to see the Tempel Lipizzans, I would definitely put it on your summer bucket list, especially for horse loving children over the age of eight:
Performances are on select Wednesday, Saturday, and Sundays
June through September.
Tickets are $17-32