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«AUSTRALIAN LIPIZZANER REGISTRY INC Registry for Australia, New Zealand & Malaysia “Striving for Breeding Excellence” Patron: Hofrat. Univ. Doz. ...»

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Registry for Australia, New Zealand & Malaysia

“Striving for Breeding Excellence” Patron: Hofrat. Univ. Doz. Dr. Jaromir Oulehla. Issue 7, June 2015


40 Years of the Lipizzaner in Australia


ALR NEWSLETTER ISSUE 7 JUNE 2015 Editorial Welcome to the 7th edition of the ALR Inc. newsletter. In this “ There is nothing publication we celebrate the 40th Anniversary of the Lipizzaner breed in Australia.

so good for the inside of a man as The celebration year is being presented in two parts over the the outside of a June and September issues with the first part covering the very horse.” first stud in Australia, Ravenswood Stud, founded in 1975 by Mr Geoff Adcock..

- John Lubbock, "Recreation," The Use Of great excitement in this 40th year, is the recent sale of three of Life, 1894 Purebred Lipizzaner horses to Malaysia by three ALR Inc.


The horses have been purchased by the esteemed Tun Dr.

Mahathir Mohamed, who was for many years Prime Minister of In Issue No. 7 Malaysia. A photographic exposé of the horses exported appears in this issue.

Editorial  Our feature story on the aristocratic families contributing to the Ravenswood Stud  Mare lines is looking at the Counts Eltz with the five mares lines Chris & Ves Piotrowski  they founded. Of particular interest is that the first stallion to come to Australia - 298 Siglavy Flora 1.75, is of the Hamand/ Eltz Family and Vukovar Stud  Flora line founded by the Eltz family in 1861. Lipizzaner Hor

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About 1950, the full length Hollywood film Florian, starring Robert Young, reached Australia. The story was about the scattering of the Lipizzaners at the time of the First World war., and then their return to Vienna when peace was declared. Walt Disney later made the film entitled The Miracle of the White Stallions and starring Robert Taylor, covering the period of the Second World War.

Florian made quite an impression on me at the time, and having bred horses, ponies in particular for many years, I began making a few casual enquiries about the breed, with the question in mind that, as these horses had such exceptional ability, why were they practically unknown outside of Europe? I was told almost all were owned by governments of Austria and two adjoining countries, and that 298 Siglavy Flora 1-75 only a few were bred for replacement. However, the thought remained. If a stallion could be imported, it should in due course, improve the quality of both riding and harness horses here.

In January 1974, with my wife may and our grand-daughters Lynnley (twelve) and Janice (eleven), I visited Vienna and met Colonel Hans Handler, the Director of the Spanish Riding School. He was most helpful, and answered many questions untiringly. I suggested that it may be possible to obtain a stallion, and perhaps a couple of mares in Hungary of Czechoslovakia and asked if could recommend a stud. After several such conversations, the Colonel showed me Siglavy Flora II, the stallion which he had been riding for the previous year or two, and which performed on the short rein between the pillars at the regular performances, held twice weekly during the summer months.

I was most impressed with this horse. He had been selected for stud duty at Piber a few years before, and had stayed for two seasons. Only the very best are used for this purpose. He measured 15.2 hands, a little taller than most, and had excellent temperament and conformation. After one or two sessions with the Minister for Agriculture, Colonel Handler reported that the Austrian Government would agree to sell this stallion (as his bloodline had been firmly established) fo9r export to Australia. I obtained an option to purchase him, then asked Colonel Handler if he would enquire as to the possibility of obtaining two mares from the Piber Stud. He communicated with Dr Lehrner (the stud director), and a visit was arranged for the following day.

Geoff and 298 Siglavy Flora 1-75 (Ben) Janice and I made the journey by train the next morning, and Piber proved to be more beautiful than we expected. We had some difficulty with the language, but were shown over the stud, and I was offered two three year old mares of very good quality. They were both slightly smaller than I would have liked, but as there were no others available, I obtained an option, and returned that night to Vienna, where I rang London, and arranged to meet Robert Hall, of the Fulmer School of Equitation, at his place of business a few miles from Windsor, a couple of days later.

Robert Hall had several riding academies in England, Europe, and in the United States, and has owned many Lipizzaners, the most famous of which is Conversano Caprice, which competed in dressage competitions in the Olympic games, and with particular distinction (with Mrs hall in the saddle) at Helsinki.

Robert Hall agreed, if I purchased them to care for the horses for six months in England (to comply with Australian Quarantine Regulations), but was unable, at that time, to accompany me back to Austria to approve of the stallion and two mares, before purchase. He did, however, suggest that I postpone the transaction, take my wife and two girls back to Australia, and return a month or six weeks later, and he would spend a week with me, and inspect a few studs in Hungary and surrounding countries.

At that time I had to return home on business anyway, but on the way I kept an appointment which I made with the director of the stud at Lipizza. I explained the situation to Colonel Handler and Dr. Lehrner, then called at Lipizza for a day or two, but there were no suitable mares available. Through the interpreter, I pointed out that it was necessary for me to go home for a few weeks, and that I expected to be back again in the near future.

The following month after settling my business in Adelaide, I went to London again, and with Robert Hall flew to Vienna and inspected the stallion. Some years previously, Robert had been a pupil at the Spanish Riding School at the same time as Colonel Handler, then under the directorship of Colonel Podhajski.

He was agreeably surprised at the standard of the horses, which he said had improved over the past fifteen years. There were approximately sixty in training at that time, and he expressed the opinion that Siglavy Flora II was “as good as any horse in the school”, and that if I wanted him for breeding only, I would be well advised to complete the deal as soon as possible, as I would never get another as good. Colonel Handler was at home, recovering from an operation. We called to see him, and asked him to inform the Minister for Agriculture that I agreed to buy the stallion, if mares also could be purchased. We learned that the two mares were sold to France, so it was necessary for us to search for others.

Robert Hall had arranged to meet a capable guide in Vienna, a man who was to have taken us to some studs in several countries, but unfortunately he was suffering from the effects of a heart attack, and was unable to come. We therefore hired a car, brought some maps, and went first to Piber, and then to several small establishments in Hungary, before arriving at the Hungarian National Stud near Eger, about 150 Km east of Budapest, towards the Romanian border. The wife of the manager, a Dutch woman, acted as interpreter, and we were shown about 200 Lipizzaner mares, many of them in foal, or with foal at foot.

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On reaching Vienna, we were invited to be guests of the Spanish Riding School at a performance that evening. To anyone planning to go to Europe, let me stress that a visit to a performance, and to the stables, will be a never to be forgotten experience. The superbly trained stallions and splendidly uniformed riders give a faultless display with clockwork precision, and without a spoken word. The only sounds to be heard come from the hoofs on the sand and saw dust floor, an occasional snort from a concentrating horse, and of course the background music, and enthusiastic applause from an appreciative audience.

Robert Hall had to return to London on the following day, by air, and I stayed to inspect some privately owned mares in a suburb of Vienna. They were unsuitable, being unbranded and with incomplete papers. I knew full well that IO would have [plenty of critics waiting for me in Australia, and because of the assumption that it is impossible to purchase Lipizzaner’s, I had to be certain that every animal was genuine, and able to prove it.

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Although I was a little concerned about their size, by this time I had realised that mares were extremely difficult to obtain, and were high in price. I told Dr. Lehrner that I would take them provided that they were completely recovered from the foot abscess. And that he arrange to have them put into foal to stallions of different bloodlines.

Dr. Lehrner told me that it was the practice to wait until they were four years old before mating, and under no circumstances would he depart from it. I offered to make the purchase, and leave the mares there at my expense, to be exported when a positive pregnancy test was obtained, after which they had turned four years. The answer to that was “When they are sold, they must go”. I suggested that a neighbouring farmer be approached to agist them for six months, but was 536 Steaka IX born 1970. One of told that it would be impossible.

the original mares imported into Next day I called the Australian Embassy in Vienna, and asked him to communi- Australia.

cate with the British Embassy in Prague to enquire about the possibility of the mares being available at the old stud at Kladrub. The reply indicated that it would be worth the trip. Although I had a visa, it is not easy to go to and from Czechoslovakia or Hungary. However, I struggled through a mass of red tape, called at the Embassy, and was assisted by a member of staff who made a few phone calls for me. These took a couple of hours to come through, from a distance of 50 – 100 kms. The result was that there was only a few Lipizzaners there, anyway, and they were not for sale, but if I would go to Topolcianky Stud (in Nitra district over 100 Kms from Bratislava) they would certainly have plenty.

I went back to Vienna and phoned the government office in Bratislava which dealt with imports and exports and made an appointment with an officer to be taken to Topocianky the next day, then caught the bus, stayed that night in Bratislava. Early the following morning, I met two officials and we drove to the old National Stud, where I was warmly welcomed in spite of the language barrier.

There were many Lipizzaners there, but no good brood mares for sale. There were one or two good fillies, but they were too young.

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A little disappointed by this time, and wondering if I would ever succeed in finding suitable mares, I returned to Vienna for a day or so, then boarded the train for Ostende and London. I usually had a complete compartment to myself, train travel suited me. It gave me time to think and relax. On this trip, I gave a good deal of thought to the whole matter, and although I had agreed to purchase the Vienna stallion on the understanding that suitable mares could be found, I felt a certain obligation to the Spanish Riding School and to Colonel Handler in particular. Besides, I wanted that stallion.

–  –  –

From London, I booked a seven day (all inclusive) air excursion trip to Palma (Mallorca), and within twenty four hours I was in Senor Salas’ office, and a little later at the stud. Senorita Salas spoke perfect English, and was pleased to show me the stables. She offered me a good quality three year old stallion in training, and three attractive mares (one with a colt at foot). I told her that I would take them if I found it impossible to find Lipizzaners, then flew to Barcelona, caught the train, and made enquiries in France, Germany, Switzerland and Italy before going onto Yugoslavia (Lipizza).

The Director (Mr Franetic) does not speak in English. The interpreter (Mr Smuc) heard the story of my search, and was most anxious to help. I was shown six young mares, all good, but unfortunately four were half sisters. I needed all of different blood. I agreed to purchase two, provided that they could find two more.

–  –  –

My persistence was rewarded. The tourist stables were robbed of two of their best mares, and now I had four. With a little pressure and persuasion, the authorities agreed to have them put into foal to at least three different stallions and to provide pregnancy tests before transportation.

The next stop was Vienna, to arrange for Siglavy Flora II to be collected by the van which would be bringing the mares to England, and then back to London to hand over the whole problem to the international transport company, and to see Robert Hall about the stabling. I then returned to Adelaide to await news of progress.

Until that time, I intended to bring the horses from England by sea, but later due to the delay in the pregnancy tests on one mare and road transport problems, they did not arrive in England until the third week of September, which meant that two of the mares would have foaled on the ship without a vet.

A booking was made with the transport plane, leaving on or about the 1 st of April

1975. At the end of October 1974, I went to England (accompanied by my son, 1 Favory Gaeta I iid as a young colt.

Chris) by horse transport plane, and visited the stallion at Fulmer School of Equitation, and the mares at Robert Hall’s property near Leeds. They appeared to have settled in, but I had some doubt about one mare being in foal. Robert Hall advised me that the stallion and one mare were very sick soon after they arrived.

The stallion had a temperature of 41 degrees C for three days. There had been a mysterious disease in Austria a few weeks previously and many horses (including two at the Spanish Riding School had died. I checked up on my insurance, and found that the animals were covered, subject to a veterinary certificate which I had overlooked.

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