By Kate Bennett
North of SMCC, past Bangor and through the cornfields, is East Ridge Stables. East Ridge Stables is an equestrian center located in Charleston, Maine. From Sept. 1 through Sept. 4, East Ridge Stables hosted four performances put on by Herrmann’s Royal Lipizzan Stallions. According to the Lipizzan Stallions’ website, “These spectacular leaps and plunges were originally meant for use by mounted riders to inspire terror in the hearts of foot soldiers.” These horses were originally trained to be used in war but now their training has developed into a demonstration of their athleticism and artistry.
The Friday performance was at 7 p.m. and the Saturday, Sunday, and Monday performances were all at 3 p.m. Proceeds from the shows went towards the Lawrence Farm Equine Rescue so it can take in horses and other animals who have been abused or neglected. From there, they can rehabilitate the animals and help find them homes.
On Friday, September 1, I attended the Stallions’ show. It was held in a large barn with an indoor riding arena in the center of it. On both sides of the arena were lines of horse stalls. Horses stuck their heads over the stalls and their ears swung forward, intrigued, as people approached them.
The audience lined up chairs and sat outside a silver fenced-in area within the riding arena where the Lipizzan Stallions performed. The show began when a rider carrying an American flag upon a Lipizzan stallion entered the arena and the National Anthem was played.
Various performances consisted of a person on the ground with one of the stallions demonstrating different parts of these horses’ training. These maneuvers included the horses standing on their hind legs while their front legs were in the air and leaping in the air and kicking out their hind legs. A horse also bowed when given the command from the rider on his back. Another horse stood on his hind legs with his front legs off the ground when his rider asked. The final performance consisted of four horse-and-rider pairs that all were in the arena at the same time and worked as a team.
All parts of the show were breathtaking and demonstrated rigorous training and a unique art being kept alive.
Gabby, owner of Herrmann’s Royal Lipizzan Stallions, spoke through a microphone before and throughout the performances. She explained many of the moves demonstrated by the stallions and shared more information about them.
Originally from Austria, the Lipizzan Stallions were bred and trained for war.
Gabby explained how the art of training these horses has been passed down through her family from Colonel Herrmann. Colonel Herrmann had helped to save the Lipizzan Stallions from war during World War II. Gabby, the owner of Herrmann’s Royal Lipizzan Stallions, provides these horses with a lifelong home and a space to retire whenever they are ready. Throughout the performances, Gabby shared incredible information about the Herrmann’s Royal Lipizzan Stallions and their unique breed.
At the conclusion of the show, Gabby encouraged the audience to go over to one of the lines of stalls and meet the horses. It was a wonderful opportunity to meet the horses and the people who are behind these shows, and who put in so much effort making everything come together. It was really neat to see the horses up close to see how kind and approachable they were. When approaching their stalls, the horses’ ears turned forward in curiosity and they came over to the front of the stall to say hello.
Herrmann’s Royal Lipizzan Stallions go on tour every summer. On tour, they travel throughout the nation putting on shows. The Stallions are based out of Florida. When not on tour, they spend their time training for their upcoming tour and offer various services, including horseback-riding lessons (about $100 for an hour-long lesson), where you can learn to ride one of the Lipizzan Stallions. Herrmann’s Royal Lipizzan Stallions will be performing their last show of the 2017 season on Sept. 15, 16, and 17 in Essex, Mass.