Tempel Lipizzan presents Skilled horse performance and artistic expression
BY WENDY ALTSCHULER For Sun-Times Media
One of the oldest European breeds of domesticated horses is the Lipizzan — a rare, regal and striking horse with a white coat. Tempel Lipizzan, located in Old Mill Creek, has worked toward protecting Lipizzan’s for more than 50 years. Lipizzan’s are bred, cared for and trained on site. Performances are held in the tradition of the Spanish Riding School in Vienna, which showcases the Lipizzan’s superior training, set to classical music.
Much of the success and staying power of Tempel Lipizzan is credited to the proficient training staff. Former Olympic coach and German native, Conrad Schumacher, operates as the master coach. Schumacher acts as advisor for training and choreography for the Tempel Lipizzan’s summer performances.
“Conrad Schumacher oversees our top level dressage trainers,” said Esther V. Buonanno, program director at Tempel Lipizzan Corporation. “He advises on choreography and helps us to educate about the history of classical dressage riding. He is the Bela Karolyi of the Olympic dressage world — one of the world’s foremost dressage trainers, having trained many students to international Olympic and world championship levels.”
According to Buonanno, Schumacher has been an influential force in the successful teams from Germany, Holland, Great Britain and the United States. With his many years of experience — first as a rider then as a coach, trainer and judge — and his excellent command of the English language, Schumacher is able to communicate with clarity and candor the correct path for more than 4,000 horse-and-rider combinations.
“Dressage, which is now an Olympic sport, began as cavalry riding, and then with the establishment of the Lipizzan breed, classical dressage became an artistic expression of what could be considered one of the most noble partnerships between animal and man: on the battlefield,” Buonanno said. “This discipline of riding became performance art in the royal courts of Europe.”
Tempel and Esther Smith originally imported 20 Lipizzans from an authentic Austrian stud farm in 1958, which was the beginning of what is now the chief privately owned and managed herd of Lipizzans in the world. Establishing an American center of classical horsemanship that closely mirrored the tradition of the Spanish Riding School in Vienna has always been the ambition of late Tempel and Esther Smith. Their descendants finally realized it in 1982.
“Tempel and Esther Smith brought not just the breed, now considered an endangered domestic breed, but the whole cultural tradition to the United States,” Buonanno said. “At that time, equestrian sport was limited to barrel racing and horse racing. Tempel Farms is known to have been important in establishing the sport in the United States.”
Visitors can attend Saturday, Sunday and Wednesday matinee or evening performances to see precision and agile trained moves such as Levade, Courbette, Capriole and The Quadrille. After the performance of complex choreography, attendees can take a self-guided tour through the stallion stable and see the foals in the pasture.
For more information, visit www.tempelfarms.com.