Lipizzaner stud farm at Piber receives UNESCO cultural award

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The lipizzaner stud farm at Piber in Austria has received a UNESCO cultural heritage award.
The lipizzaner stud farm at Piber in Austria has received a UNESCO cultural heritage award. © Stud Farm Piber

The stud farm in Austria that is home of the Spanish Riding School’s famous lipizzaner horses has received a UNESCO cultural heritage award.

It follows on the heels of last December’s UNESCO award to the Spanish Riding School in Vienna.

This time, it is the turn of the stud farm in Piber, in the province of Styria in Austria’s south-east that has been recognised for its century-old knowledge of the breeding of the white horses.

The Lipizzaner horse is the oldest cultural horse breed in Europe and they have been bred at Piber for the Spanish Riding School Vienna since 1920.

A lipizzaner performing at Vienna's Spanish Riding School.
A lipizzaner performing at Vienna’s Spanish Riding School. © Spanische Hofreitschule / Rene van Bakel

Minister of Agriculture and Environment Andrä Rupprechter said the Lipizzaner horses were Austria’s “living landmark and their role as noble ambassadors serves as a splendid example of ‘Best of Austria’.“

“The UNESCO award is not only an honour, but means also that it is our duty to preserve this heritage for generations to come,” Rupprechter said.

Elisabeth Gürtler, CEO of the Spanish Riding School and the Stud Farm of Piber, said the award was “marvellous recognition” of the stud team’s expertise that praises the century-old tradition of the Lipizzaner breeding in their every-day achievements and efforts.

The process for selecting the horses to train at the Spanish Riding School require many years or even decades of training and experience, based on breeding principles, horse rearing, the horses’ wellbeing and appropriate horse keeping, the adequate treatment and finally the classical training principles and methods, said Dr. Max Dobretsberger, Head of the Stud Farm of Piber.

For several hundreds of years stud books have been kept, and in the old tradition is still a handwritten art with two copies being made.

The activities of the stud farm, including the yearly mother’s day gala, the ceremonial driving down of young horses from the mountain pastures into the valley at the beginning of autumn, and the autumn parade provide both the stud and the whole region with a feeling of identity and continuity.

Lipizzaner mares and foals at Piber.
Lipizzaner mares and foals at Piber. © Spanische Hofreitschule

The Austrian Commission for UNESCO has been responsible for the compilation of an inventory of Austria’s intangible cultural heritage since 2009, and so far includes 90 traditions.

UNESCO – United Nations Economic, Scientific and Cultural Organisation – is a specialized agency of the United Nations (UN). Its purpose is to contribute to peace and security by promoting international collaboration through educational, scientific, and cultural reforms in order to increase universal respect for justice, the rule of law, and human rights along with fundamental freedom proclaimed in the United Nations Charter.

 

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