In 1962, Col. Ottomar Herrmann and his family arrived in Myakka City from Austria by way of the Caribbean with a barn full of extremely rare royal Lipizzan stallions and their heads full of tales from World War II.
The stallions were first bred during the 16th century for the exclusive use of the Hapsburg Royal Family in Austria, but during the Russian advance in World War II, the safety of the stallions was compromised. Col. Hermann, Col. Hermann Sr. and Gen. George Patton led a gallant effort to rescue the stallions from behind enemy lines, a story recounted in the Disney movie, Miracle of the White Stallions.
Today Col. Herrmann’s daughter, Gabriella Herrmann, continues the family legacy in Myakka City by leading the 200-acre ranch operation of Herrmann’s Royal Lipizzan Stallions.
Every Thursday and Friday at 3 p.m. and Saturday at 10 a.m. from the week before Christmas until the end of April, you can head out to the ranch and watch the stallions train for their summer and fall performances across the continental U.S. The stallions take part in classic dressage, including pas de trois, where three horses perform a precise drill and “airs above the ground,” a complicated series of higher-level jumps for which they are best known.
Lipizzan stallions are renowned for their muscular bodies and graceful moves. The stallions have a unique coat that starts out as black or dark brown at birth, and gradually lightens until it becomes white.
“There’s a lot of history and a lot of educational purposes during our training,” Gabriella Herrmann says. “We tell the audience how they are raised, their longevity and what they were trained for back then, such as war maneuvers and battle maneuvers.” Each training session is about 75 minutes long, and you can visit the stables after the show and meet some of the stallions, including newborns and retirees.
Herrmann says there are about 3,000 Lipizzan stallions in the world right now, and 25 of them were born, bred and raised at the Herrmann ranch in Myakka City.
For more information on Herrmann’s Royal Lipizzan Stallions, visit hlipizzans.com.