The Lipizzaner horse’s ancestors can be traced back to 800AD. They were Berber horses brought to Spain by the Moors (Muslims) from North Africa via Gibraltar.
The Hapsburg family controlled both Spain and Austria when the art of classical riding revived in Europe during the Renaissance. There was a need for light, fast horses for use in the military and the riding school. The Spanish horse, produced during Moorish rule by crossing Berber and Arab stallions with Iberian mares, was considered the most suitable mount because of its exceptional sturdiness, beauty, and intelligence
In the eighth century, the Moors introduced further Arab blood into the Iberian horse breed. These Muslim conquerors wished to improve the endurance qualities of their light oriental breeds as they demanded mounts able to withstand many attacks from the heavier horses of the Christian knights.
The breed has been endangered numerous times by warfare sweeping Europe. The rescue of the Lipizzans during World War II by General Patton and American troops was made famous by the movie Miracle of the White Stallions.