To Love Lipizzans

Susan Stickle photo

The stunning Lipizzan! We are celebrating them as our September Breed of the Month on YourDressage!

Dressage riders who choose Lipizzans as their mounts are eligible for special awards through the Adequan®/USDF All-Breeds Awards program, as the United States Lipizzan Federation is a participating organization.

Here, a Region 3 rider shares about discovering the Lipizzan breed in her youth, and her many accomplishments with them as she grew up.

By Kristina Brown

I grew up in the Midwest and started out riding Hunter/Jumpers before really taking an interest in dressage. When I was young, our barn group at the time took a trip out to Temple Farms in Wadsworth, Illinois to audit a Conrad Schumacher clinic. Of course, being young, I had a short attention span, and ended up making friends with the staff at Temple. With my newfound friends, I got a little “behind the scenes” look at their beautiful Lipizzan horses. This brought us to their mare and foal barn, where my mother decided to look at what they had for sale “just for fun”… And with that, we ended up purchasing Belladiva as an extremely green broke young horse. At first, I wanted nothing to do with her; I had a little Welsh Cob pony that I did literally everything with (fox hunting, hunters, jumpers, dressage, you name it). But eventually I outgrew her and transitioned to building my partnership with Bella, my very first Lipizzan.

As we built our partnership, we accumulated a number of accomplishments, but I would have to say our greatest accomplishment was obtaining all six USDF Rider Medals and USDF Freestyle Bars together – all before I turned 21. We are one of only a small number of US riders to accomplish this feat in general, let alone an even smaller group to do so at such a young age and all on one horse.

Because of the journey I took with Bella, her not being the easiest horse to train and ride, as well as the usual struggles along the way to find a training program that worked, I made it my goal to successfully bring along her offspring in her footsteps. Her eldest, Maestoso Belladiva (by Temple Farm’s Maestoso Legeny), affectionately known as Bill, is my true heart horse. I have had him since he was a speck on an ultrasound. I remember when we decided to breed Bella, and how the first try, the embryo was absorbed. When we were successful the second time, I remember wishing for a colt, and lo and behold, there he was!

This horse has been with me though some of my toughest times and has literally traveled across the country with me. Although he isn’t the fanciest horse, he is correct, sensitive, and has a strong presence to him. He’s not your typical classical Lipizzan build, being almost 16.2hh and built like a freight train, but he tries so hard for me. Even my husband sees the connection we have. He’s a bit of a dominant personality type, but as soon as I come around, he straightens right up. I have never had a horse trust me as much as he does. It’s the greatest feeling in the world to have a relationship with your horse like that. And because of what I have built with him, I take that into account with how I train and bring up my other young horses.

After graduating high school, I thought that I wanted to pursue a career in horses. My parents were generous enough to let me give it a go before getting deep into my college academics, and I went to be a working student for several years. Ultimately, I made the decision to go to college and further my education to become self-sufficient. I wanted to be able to afford my horse on my own and not rely on others. The dedication and drive I had to have to get to where I am as a rider has most certainty played a role in my success as a medical professional.

Horses shaped who I am today. They bring so much joy to my life and my family. Being a nurse, and working in the ICU during the pandemic, there was always an outlet with my horses. And now, my husband and I have purchased a small farm in Ocala, FL to continue pursuing our dream of training and developing high quality performance horses.

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