At the 17th meeting of the Intergovernmental Committee for the Protection of the Intangible Cultural Heritage of UNESCO, which took place from November 28 to December 3, 2022 in Rabat, Morocco, the element "Lipizzaner Horse Breeding Traditions" was accepted into the list for the protection of the World Intangible Cultural Heritage of UNESCO. It was an international nomination of eight European countries - Bosnia and Herzegovina, Croatia, Hungary, Austria, Romania, Slovakia, Slovenia and Italy - which highlighted the common heritage linking communities and states at the national and international level. The main coordinator of the entire nomination process was the Ministry of Culture of the Republic of Slovenia and the Lipica Stud Farm.
Lipica Stud Farm is one of the oldest stud farms in Europe. Its history is closely connected with the Habsburgs. It was founded in 1580 by Archduke Karol II, the third son of Emperor Ferdinand I. The fact is that Spanish horses were considered ideal at the time, and the area where the stud farm is now located was the most similar to Spain in its terrain and climate. That is why Lipica was chosen as the place for the future stud farm. After the premises were newly built, 24 breeding mares and six breeding stallions were purchased in Spain in 1581. Gradually, it was possible to breed an intelligent, docile, elegant and, last but not least, very beautiful Lipizzaner breed. During the reign of Empress Maria Theresa, Lipizzaner was formed as we know it today. Horse breeding was a priority among her husband's tasks and interests.
In the following centuries, the stud farm went through turbulent periods marked by the Napoleonic wars and also two world wars. These years were characterized by a struggle to save the stud farm, stud books and preserve the Lipizzaner breed. In the 1950s, dressage riding began to develop here, which resulted in the founding of a classical riding school by Emil Šulgan, former director of the Topoľčianky Stud Farm. In addition to dressage, driving also experienced a boom. The renovation of the premises and riding areas enabled Lipica to become the venue for the World Driving Championships in 2011 and 2017. They regularly organize international dressage and driving events.
Today, the Lipica stud farm is one of Slovenia's greatest prides and is a popular tourist destination. Tourists have many other options in the area - play golf, tennis, visit a casino, a gallery, and during that time they can stay in one of the two hotels belonging to the stud farm.
The Lipica Stud Farm organizes Lipizzaner Day every year. This year's event was dedicated to the acceptance of the element "Traditions of breeding Lipizzaner horses" into the world intangible cultural heritage of UNESCO. It was a two-day event held on 20-21 May 2023. It included a rich accompanying program in which every visitor found something for himself. Those interested could watch horse shoeing demonstrations, letting the herd out to pasture, driving demonstrations, classical school training or an exhibition of photos of the participating countries that were used in the nomination file. Even the smallest ones got their way. A bubble show, pony rides and other fun activities added variety to this equestrian festival.
Studs from all nomination countries accepted the invitation to the main program. The National Stud Farm Topoľčianky could not be missed. It introduced itself to the audience with a ceremonial 5-in-hand, which was composed of three black and two white Lipizzaner stallions driven by Miroslav Matúška. Elegance in the saddle was demonstrated by Václav Macek with the stallion Neapolitano XIV-17 and Peter Vančo with his black Conversano XIII-47. In addition to the performance of the other stallions, the audience could watch the performance of the majorettes, the Lipica classical school quadrille with young stallions and demonstrations of movements above the ground. A driving quadrille composed of invited stud farms was also included.
Inscription of the element "Traditions of Lipizzaner breed horse breeding" into the UNESCO World Intangible Cultural Heritage is clearly an important milestone in Lipizzaner breeding throughout Europe. This initiative strengthened the socio-cultural ties between communities from different countries. The common heritage of this element creates the potential to connect people across borders, to work together on the basis of a common system of knowledge and values in different areas that are interconnected in their conservation needs.