By the banks of the Durance river between the Côtes mountain chain and the Luberon, La Roque d'Anthéron resounds with crystalline notes! Known for its international piano festival, this beautiful village of Provence lives henceforth to the rhythm of the Lipizzaners : the oldest horses of pure race in Europe.
The Philip brothers, breeders born in the region and founders of the French Lipizzaner Horse Conservatory in La Roque d'Anthéron, know the history of this imperial horse down to the tips of their hoofs and are proud to promote these powerful stallions, as white as snow, the exclusive mounts of the horsemen at the Spanish Riding School in Vienna.
In the heart of this Luberon countryside, a true Lipizzaners paradise, the Philip family are giving a taste for training to youths, and organize more and more often courses and events with the objective of showing the aptitudes of this exceptional horse.
Don't hesitate to come see them, the doors are always open to all who dream the dreams of conquerors.
First bred in the 16th century by the Austrian royal court, the Lipizzaner was born in Lipizza or Lipica (once the territory of the Austro-Hungarian empire and today in Slovenia), a small village converted into an imperial stud farm for which the objective was to furnish the prestigious Spanish Riding School in Vienna with the most beautiful horses one could imagine.
The Archduke Charles II, a great Equidae lover, decided to import from Andalusia, because of their particular aptitude in the ring, nine stallions and twenty four mares. These horses were then crossbred with the descendants of the old indigenous race. Then, the royal court in Vienna, wishing to ameliorate this new race, continued to purchase other Spanish horses.
Although three of the lines of father stallions were white, it was thanks to the infusions of Arab blood that genetically favoured the white coat, considered that of "imperial horses". This coat became predominant in the beginning of the 19th century and from then on constituted one of the race's characteristics. However, today there does exist in Hungary black and brown horses, but these latter come from a different genetic stock.
The fixation of the type in its essential characteristics and its use as a parade and combat horse were already partly obtained in 1735 at the time of the inauguration of the imperial riding school. The Lipizzaner would replace the Andalusian to remain up until today the main actor in the great carrousels and sumptuous fetes.
Six lines of stallions and 18 families of mares, selected in the 18th century under the reign of the Empress Maria Theresa, constitute the basis for breeding.
The breeders Gérard and Christian Philip, with 7 different stallions and 30 mares, ensure the 6 lineages at the origin of the race. They respect the strict rules of reproduction guaranteeing that each Lipizzaner possesses the same noble characteristics as its ancestors. Moreover, their farm is classed as one of the biggest private stud farms in Europe.
They walk in the footsteps of Roger Bellon who was the first person, in the 1960s, to import and found a Lipizzaner breeding farm in France with stallions from the Piber stud farm in Austria. The horses in La Roque d'Anthéron all also have Piber as their origins, today the only stud farm providing horses for the Spanish Riding School in Vienna. In Piber, the foals are given two names, that of the lineage of their father and that of their mother, with the number of the chronological order of the mother written in Arabic numerals. The male receives a Roman numeral if its father produces several sons with the same brood mare. At one years old, after a first selection, the foals are marked with an "L" on the left lower jaw between the jaw and the cheek, with the letter of the mother's father's lineage under the saddle to the left and with the registered number of the foal under the saddle to the right. And, of course, the "P" of the Piber stud farm under the imperial crown on the left thigh.
With 150 Lipizzaners on their 50-hectare estate, the Philip brothers are the premier breeders of Lipizzaners in France. It must be said that 620 Lipizzaners can be counted on French territory, which of course accounts for the rarity of this noble horse of preserved pure race. That also makes it easier to understand why its price is so high, ranging from 8000 to 12,000 euros for a 3 to 4 year old foal.
Interestingly enough, the foals are born black or bay and get their beautiful, white and silky coat after the age of 6 years.
In La Roque d'Anthéron, fifteen are born each year. The son, Guillaume Philip, has taken up the torch for everything that concerns the education of the horses. He breaks them in and instills in them the basics of their training.
Several of their horses are already living their beautiful destinies, like those who perform for the Chateau de Chambord and others are promised a great future, like those foals recently purchased by Odile Van Doorn, several times champion of France in dressage events. Or else, they cross the borders into Belgium and Switzerland or even go as far as Australia where they are highly prized.
Once destined solely for the riders of the Grand School, the Lipizzaner has modernized. Today it is a good all-rounder, intelligent, with a set character, generous and close to people. These qualities make them remarkable recreational horses, but also remarkable harness horses.
Since a few years, the amelioration of the race may ensure it a great future in dressage events : light augmentation in size (1.63 m to the withers) to regain the standards in force at the end of the 19th century and considerable amelioration in bearing : it is now ample, supple and rounded and that permits the horses to aspire to compete in dressage events.
In the Conservatory's magnificent, 30x15m indoor riding ring in stone and wood next to the stalls, the son Guillaume works the horses in anticipation of the next dressage events. He was selected with several of his horses at the Grande Semaine in Saumur, essential top level dressage rendezvous.
Odile Van Doorn, several times champion of France in dressage, regularly comes to La Roque d'Anthéron to help the Philip brothers perfect their many Lipizzaner horses in the art of dressage. She also offers advanced classes in equestrianism.
Elevage Philip - Conservatoire Français du Cheval Lipizzan - Avenue Durance - 13640 La Roque d'Anthéron
+33 (0)4 42 50 55 33http://www.lipizzan-philip.com