The Federal Stud Farm Piber
National Stud Piber
The function of Piber National Stud is to preserve the oldest horse breed of Europe in its original form and, at the same time, to preserve living cultural assets. Another purpose is to breed stallions especially fitted for the classic riding tradition of the "Spanish Royal Riding School" at Vienna. As the only national stud in Austria, Piber has the responsibility for the preservation and the continuation of knowledge about breeding, raising and keeping Lipizzaner horses as baroque show horses as old as four centuries.
The first attempts to breed Lipizzaners in Piber go back to the middle of the 19th century. They were not for the emperor but were used as workhorses. The Emperor's Lipizzaners were bred in Lipica.
During World War I, the horses were evacuated from Lipica. A part of the herd came to Laxemburg, near Vienna, and the young horses were brought to the Imperial Stud of Kladrub. After the war, the herd had to be split up between the victorious powers and so only 97 remained in Austria. But Laxemburg, because of the climate and the partially marshy ground, was absolutely no ideal breeding place. In 1920 the horses were brought to Piber which was considered to be the right place.
The horses had to leave Piber during World War II. They were brought to Hostau in Bohemia because the stud had to breed mountain packhorses and mules for the army. As the war was going to an end, the region around Hostau was already under Russian influence. But thanks to General Patton and the US Army, the Lipizzaners were brought back to Bad Wimsbach (Upper-Austria), and then to Piber. The last horses arrived in Piber in 1952. Since then, the herd has never left the stud.
At the moment there are approx. 250 Lipizzaners at the stud, about 70 of those are brood mares. Between 30 and 40 foals are born each year. At the age of about 6 months the foals are self-sufficient. When the weaning has taken place, the foals are brought in groups to a rearing farm. The young horses will stay there for another six months. Then the group is split again in male and female departments at different rearing farms. The young horses spend the summer on the studs' alpine pastures at an altitude of 1600 m. They go on "summer holidays" during their first 3 years of rearing. The partly steep and stony slopes of the mountains make the young horses more persistent and tough.
The breeding programme of the Federal Stud of Piber is based on the preservation of the 6 classical stallion lines CONVERSANO, FAVORY, MAESTOSO, NEAPOLITANO, PLUTO, SIGLAVY and of the 17 classic mare families.
The training of the horses, both stallions and mares, starts at the age of three and a half years. The young mares which are going to become brood mares are trained in Piber. They have to pass an exam. The examination period lasts over half a year and contains training in carriage and basic riding training. During this time the criteria for passing this test are: character, willingness to learn and work.
Piber also keeps horses for representation purposes, which are on a higher level of training. They perform at parades and other events of the stud.
Extensive restoration and a new infrastructure have turned Piber into an attractive modern stud, event location and tourist attraction. Created in 2006, the "Lipizzaner World Piber" offers visitors a comprehensive and interesting programme which inspires not only horse lovers but families and their offspring.
Today, the stud is not only an important breeding establishment ensuring the preservation of Europe's oldest cultural horse breed and the stars of the Spanish Riding School, but also an attractive tourist attraction.