OLD MILL CREEK, Ill. — They’re called Lipizzans. They’re a rare and endangered breed of horses that actually dance. And you can see them perform just one hour north of Chicago.
“The Lipizzan is a strong and spirited horse that was formerly a calvary horse. There are less than 8,000 worldwide” Esther Buonanno, programming director of the Tempel Lipizzans, said.
Buananno has horse breeding in her blood. Her grandparents founded Tempel Farms in Old Mill Creek, Ill., nearly six decades ago.
“In 1958 they imported about 20 Lipizzans to Old Mill Creek, Illinois,” she said.
And since then, Tempel Farms has been breeding and showing the rare Lipizzan as part of their dancing horse show.
Their graceful moves and highly choreographed ballet of the white stallions is a highlight of the show.
“Stallions don’t naturally work together. By nature they’re competitive. So for them to show off in a group, it’s a wonderful demonstration of harmony and a nod to their history,” Buananno said.
Born with brown coats that eventually turn white, every Lipizzan farm has one lucky horse that keeps its dark coat. At Tempel, that’s Maestoso Batrina.
“This is an endangered breed. So its really crucial that our breeding program supports the continuation of this breed,” Emily Riccio, trainer and programming coordinator at Tempel Farms, said.
Riccio is the first female performer in the show’s “Airs Above the Ground” segment. She said everything at Tempel holds true to the history of the Lipizzan including the riders’ costumes.
“The significance of the costumes that we’re wearing go back to U.S. military attire,” she said.
The Dancing Lipizzans will perform for the public at Tempel Sundays and Wednesdays through September. For more information visit their website.