Legendary White Stallions
Video: The World Famous Lipizzaner Stallions

The maneuvers and jumps associated with high classical dressage were originally designed as equine military training to develop strength, agility, balance, concentration and focus on the rider’s demands. Over time, they have been transformed into a living art form of balletic grace and precision, celebrating the accomplishments of some of the most remarkable horses on the planet. The principles of dressage were created by Greek historian and military leader Xenophon in 400 B.C.E. and are most famously represented today the Spanish Riding School in Vienna. For Xenophon, the rider’s connection with the horse is key: “If the rider is not in harmony with the nature of the animal, then it will perform as a burden with no display of pleasure.” To master this equestrian art form, both rider and horse must work together for years at Vienna’s Spanish Riding School perfecting the movements.

  • Kristy Whalen

    I think that is so cool! My 4h group went to the Fanatsia show I’m Ohio and saw an act just as cool by people dressed in pioneer outfits! I couldn’t believe they could do all that cool stuff! I’m definitely a fan!

  • Karen Pollard

    I have always supported PBS, and bought videos/DVD’s, and books. I wish there was not a “blackout” on us
    as Canadians,because we are outside the region you service. If there was some way of directing my donations
    to PBS, to lift this, so I could view video’s, trailers etc., I would happily subscribe to it. I can view the Boston, and
    Seattle T.V. programming, and would donate to either if I could view with the some choice from your web site.
    Thank you,
    Karen Pollard
    Acton Ontario
    L7J 2L9

  • B. Sternig

    During the time I lived in Vienna, and during ensuing visits back, I’ve always gone often to the Hofburg to be enchanted by the Spanish Riding School’s equine artists. And it IS enchantment! These magnificent stallions with their luxuriously flowing tails and manes, are nothing less than world-class athletes – but so humble that they do each difficult action their riders bid, and do these feats with unbounded joy! I can’t wait to see Nature next Wednesday! It takes your breath away to watch from the galleries as they LEAP into the air and kick their rear legs out, then land their sturdy bodies back on earth unharmed …or keep perfect rhythm with the classical music accompaniment as they perform complex patterns and gaits. Gorgeous and unforgettable. Roll on, “Nature.”

  • Nirgal101

    i bleieve that is great l! My 4h group went to the Fanatsia show I’m in Ohio and saw an act just as amazing by actors dressed in pioneer outfits! I couldn’t believe they could do all that crazy stuff

  • jewely

    their rescue during ww2 was well docummented by Walt Disney who made a movie years ago called, The Miracle of the White Stallions. the U.S. General George Patton, an avid horseman, led the efforts to rescue them. i think the school is approaching its 500th anniversary.

  • jane currelly

    Why is it that when exceptional programs are on us poor Canucks get no signal? I opted out of a dish as it wasn’t consistant. Live on a hill-see NY state (well, nearly) so got antenna-why is it so inconsistant

  • L. Schneider

    Program was not on tonight because of auction. Hope it will be next week. Wanted to see the Lippizaners.

  • Heidi K.

    I fell in love with the Lipizzaner White Stallion when I was 12 when I was able to see them walk from stable to the ring in Vienna, Austria. I was glued to their every move! I have been entranced with dressage ever since. I wish I could watch them perform again. I am a horse lover and rider all my life. There is nothing more magnificent than watching these powerful gorgeous stallions demonstrate their graceful movement. I loved this show. I would love to see more! Is there a way of obtaining a copy of this show? Please let me know. Thank you ever so much.

  • Jim Jones

    What part of this is in any way NATURE? The training and performances of these horses is special, but absolutely no part of this has anything to do with the natural lives of horses. At almost every stage of their life cycle, these performance animals are in the company of humans; and those humans are directing their actions! We need to take a close look at what we are doing to the lives of wild creatures when we turn them into over domesticated show ponies that perform for the applause of a select few HUMANS.

  • Cheryl

    I have been following and photographing the true Lipizzaners shows all my life and any group claiming them with riders in pioneer outfits is a joke. If you really want to understand the beauty and art of these magnificient animals and the movements of dressage go to the World Equestrian Games 2010 held in Lexington, KY. This is the pre event for the Olympics and it was the first time ever held in the US. there may still be video available. Read more about Lipizzaners online, there is a small group out of Florida that performs in the US, and you can share with your kids the Disney movie about them being saving from the Nazi troops in WWII (true story). Better yet,
    get your kids to read “White Stallion of Lipizza” by Marguerite Henry. The book gives entertaining but detailed information on bloodlines, history, training of horses and riders in a story form they will want to read again and again.

  • Cheryl

    To Jim Jones

    Do you raise horses or ever watch horses in the wild. Of course they do these movements on their own. Especially when attacked or fighting other stallions. Why do you think only stallions are used for this? Ever hear of couch potatoes and unhealthy eating with no exercise. What would you have horses and other animals do/ Pig out in fields and just get fat and brake their legs because they won’t hold those fat bodies. Animals get bored just like people. They like to be active, run, play, and be social. That is their NATURE. Horses are social with a variety of species; cats, goats, dogs, and even humans just to name a few. At a horse rescue farm where I often help out a horse that has lost his pasture buddy will go into mourning until we can get a new friendship to develop and that may take several introductions before it does, if ever. And I’ve got news for you, animals that perform do like the applause as well as the treats. Our horses loved the attention on special days when we invited HUMANS who may enjoys watching them play with their toys and may donate enough money so we can keep FEEDING them.

  • Dr. Judith Barracks

    I so enjoyed your very short film on the Lipizzaner white Stallions. would appreciate more films, information, stories about them and thier history. where in Florida do they exist and perform? thank you.

  • Lisa

    I have loved watching these beautiful stallions since I was 3-4 years old. I was fortunate to grow up riding and with a teacher that followed the training of the school and had us ride on the lounge line for a lounge time and practice quadrille exercises. It fostered my love for stallions and I have owned many. Lost my favorite Irish Draught stallion a few years ago and now his oldest ungelded son is 2 and I can’t wait to start his training. This video could have done more to talk about the extensive training that they have (for my interest) but I hope that this at least inspires another younger girl or two to follow the horses and pursue the art form!

  • KJW

    For the WWII rescue by General Patton and allies, check out The White Stallions by Disney – great movie. Here is an article on that rescue.


    There are many sources of information at your local library, in the reference and non-fiction sections about the Lipizzaner if you are willing to do the research. From what I can see, there is a group in Florida who appear to have been part of the original group from WWII who rescued the breed. Don’t quote me on that. Can’t wait to capture the PVR as I was out when the episode first aired.

  • rm danielson

    In this really great story of these truly beautiful and beautifully trained equines, the writers and producers made one major misstatement. They stated that the training of these horse has never been written down, that it is passed on verbally. That is incorrect. For those of you who speak/read German the book is titled ‘Die Klassische Reitkunst-Eine Reitlehre von den Anfangen bis zur Vollendung ‘, published in 1965 by Nymphenburger Verlagshandlund GmbH Munich. The English translation was published in 1967 by Doubleday and Company. The author is Colonel Alois Podhajsky, former Director of The Spanish Riding School in Vienna. And yes, the same Colonel Podhajsky who was aided by General Patton in saving the Lippizzaners from being eaten by the Hungarian soldiers in WWII.

    I purchased my copy of the Colonel’s book from the University of Minnesota school bookstore in 1978. In the book Col. Podhajsky assumes a basic level of knowledge of training of horse and rider by the reader. It is still a great read for novices, experienced riders and afficionados of horses in general and the Lippizanner specifically. The photographs alone are worth the price of the book.

    Nature–double check your research!

  • Pat

    Must someone always complain in every situation? On May 1, 2013 at 9:19 pm there is a post from Jim Jones. First, I would like to say that you clearly know nothing what-so-ever about horses because if you did you would definitely never have whined about this program. Secondly, if PBS chooses to air this under the umbrella of their “Nature” programing then so be it. I bet you are a real pleasure to be around. I would like to say “Thank You PBS” for airing this amazing glimpse into the Lippizzaner Stallions. They are breath taking!

  • Pat

    Loved the progam. Is there a way to purchase the DVD? Thank you!

  • Stephanie

    Bravo Cheryl and Pat. Very well said! There is always one in the bunch… There is such a problem now a days with people who have NO knowledge of the way of the Equine, but put their 2 cents where it is not needed. Research your subjects fully gaining an understanding before you waste time on useless dribble. Base your opinions on FACTS, not misguided emotions. Got no facts…keep it to yourself!!!!!
    Great show. Beautiful, well cared for and LOVED horses. Thank you PBS AGAIN! I will be purchasing this DVD for sure. Wonderfully done!!!!

Produced by THIRTEEN    ©2014 THIRTEEN Productions LLC. All rights reserved.

PBS is a 501(c)(3) not-for-profit organization.