For a wonderful Christmas holiday experience, with a difference, visit the South African Lipizzaners for Carols by Candlelight. They will be joined by singers from the Welsh Male Voice Choir, and will include a special tableau. This is an occasion for the whole family to enjoy and, for those who wish, there is a light supper and a cash bar available beforehand.
These white stallions are superb – magnificent might with glorious grace – and the relationship that exists between horse and rider is a joy to watch. Of course, that does not mean that there is not an impish individuality inside some of them, which surfaces from time to time. Although the setting is relaxed and very casual, the performances themselves reflect a dignity that comes through intense preparation, and a sense of self worth and self control in both horse and rider. The programme is varied and well introduced, and allows the rippling strength, fine balance and noble lines of the stallions to be fully displayed. They must have been awe inspiring in battle!
Their ancestors are reported to be the oldest human-bred horses in the world, being traced back to the time of Julius Caesar. The breed itself appears to have started around 1562 as the inspiration of the Archduke Maximilian, who began to breed Spanish horses in Lipica, in what is now Slovenia. He joined them, in his breeding programme, with Italian and Arab-Oriental horses. The white Lipizzaners that we know today, are the result.
In 1944 Count Jankovich-Besan saved and imported a number of Lippizzaners to South Africa, from a Europe ravaged by war. The present stallions are direct descendents of this proud line. They are the only performing Lipizzaners which are recognised by, and affiliated to, The Spanish Riding School in Vienna.
The horses are born dark and, with few exceptions, become lighter with each change of coat, until they reach a silvery-whiteness. Basic training begins at the age of three, and continues throughout the life of the stallion. Some are still performing at the age of 25. When ‘fully-trained’ the horses take their turn, and teach the young riders some of the classical movements!
After the performance the members of the audiences are invited into the stable areas where they can inspect the horses at close quarters, and feed them carrots. It is here that one gets an idea of their true size, power and magnificence. It is one thing to look at the face and pat the neck, it is quite another to look at the other end, and to know that should he choose to do so, a powerful kick from those muscled hindquarters would probably take the door off its hinges and send it flying into the adjoining suburb! It is said that in battle they could take the head off an enemy, and were trained to do so!
There are no reserved seats, so if you are going with a party make sure that you are there fairly early so that you can be near the front of the queue. You’ll want to be seated anyway, to look around and to savour the moments of expectation, as you await the first parade.
There are good directions and maps on the website, which includes more information of interest – including hints on how to support them. I hope that you do go, and have as magical a time as we did. But hurry – there’s not much time left.
Address: 1 Dahlia Road, Kyalami
For further information follow the links alongside.