I am old enough to have seen when a child, and never forgotten since, a movie called The Miracle of the White Stallions. It is a 1963 Disney Movie. The marvelous color of the uniforms, the astonishing whiteness, size and strength of the horses, the crescendos of music, the threat from the Nazis, all of these made the movie hugely memorable for my very young self way back then. So, when I heard about the Lipizzan Stallions near Sebring Florida, I just had to investigate.
I found out that Herrmann’s Royal Lipizzan Stallions, are descended from a bloodline that’s 450 years old. They may even be descendants of those marvelous stallions I saw in the movie in 1963.
Herrmann’s stallions perform America-wide during the summer months, and in the winter, are housed and trained at a 200 acre ranch near Myakka Florida. That’s not far from our Snowbird home in Sebring, Florida.
This is the over-winter location, and it is the training ranch, so don’t expect the “spit & polish” performance as is the case when the Lipizzaner’s perform on their around-America tour. The demonstrations here are by young horses needing a lot of work, and older, well-trained stallions that guide the young horses in the sometimes intricate steps, along with presentations by other equine performers that are in the troupe.
The show starts with Gabriella Herrmann, daughter of Col. Herrmann explaining a bit about the history of the Lippizan Stallions. I was amazed to learn that in the Second World War Col. Herrmann, along with General Patton, was instrumental in saving these marvelous creatures from the threat of bombing in Austria during that war.
(Please note: Folks, sadly, Gabriella Herrmann unexpectedly passed away in March of 2021. The report of that that is available here. A quotation from their Facebook posting says “Shows will continue as scheduled on Thursday and Friday at 3 PM. Saturdays at 10 AM. Doors open one hour prior to the show. The last show of the season will be May 1st. We ask that you come out and honor Gabby’s memory.”) Our thanks to site visitor “Nina” for taking the time to update us.
Ottomar Herrmann fled Austria, ultimately landed here in Myakka City, Florida and founded this North American home for these gorgeous white beasts. This all took place in the 1960’s, and the stallions and extended family have been here since.
Lipizzan Stallions Winter Training Sessions
Details of getting to the ranch are found at the bottom of this page.
Upon arrival at the grounds, visitors will find a large, no-charge, parking paddock, and a walkway to the entry kiosk. Payment of the “donation” allows entry, and then visitors move on to the spacious stands on both sides of the display area.
We wandered around a bit, then, with no problem, found seating hear the front of the stands, close to where the horses and trainers entered. The fences and the entrance way for the Stallions are more than a bit weathered. The Florida sun can be harsh, weathering wood and paint very quickly.
The arena was neatly raked, and we, along with a few hundred other folks sat back to watch as the trainers put some of their charges through their paces.
This is a training facility, and though during the presentation we saw older, better trained stallions, for the most part these were young ones being trained for their tour debut in the upcoming summer.
Also, we only saw a fraction of the 20+ stallions that perform. Other stallions were too young, had been retired to live the rest of their lives in relative luxury at the ranch, or had already completed their training for this day, and were at rest.
The presentation of the horses and their trainers began with the trooping of the color and the singing of the national anthem.
While Ms Herrmann did introduce the trainers and the horses names each time, I regret that I did not record these to share with you here. All will be ably introduced if you make the time to visit their ranch for a presentation.
And so it went, horse and trainer after horse and trainer, all performing to rousing Viennese type music.
Often trainers walked or jogged with their respective horses. Long reins were used, depending on that specific horse and what they were to do. Some jumped while presenting their attack stance. These horses were originally, after all, bred to be fighters.
We were pleased to see Ms Herrmann “strutting the horses stuff” along with a number of others as part of the show. She is clearly very accomplished horsewoman.
Folks, if you are a lover of horses, or just want to see some splendid stallions in action, make the time to visit Herrmann’s Royal Lipizzan Stallions, near Myakka City, FL. That’s only a short drive from Sebring, and you and your guests will enjoy a few hours of economical entertainment.
For those requiring them, there is an array of portable toilets for public use. These facilities were clean, came with a wash station, were but a short stroll from the stands and were not ever crowded during our visit.
Hermann’s Royal Lipizzan Stallions of Austria
32755 Singletary Road (about 62 miles from Sebring Florida)
Myakka City, FL 34251
Please note the hours as posted in February 2020
December through April
Thursdays & Fridays @ 3:00 pm
Saturdays @ 10:00 am
My journey back down memory lane to the movie I saw way back in the 1960’s prompted me to do a bit more research on the Royal Lipizzan Stallions. Yes, they are still around, with presentations full of pomp and ceremony. You’ll just have to go to Vienna to check them out! Or maybe visit their site? Please see below this photo for more info: