In this reportage for SIOL, I documented a rare black Lippizaner horse through the daily routine of his keeper and trainer Urša Vadnjal.

The origins of the breed date back to 1580, which makes mother stud Lipica (used to be part of Austro-Hungarian monarchy, nowadays it is part of Slovenia) one of the oldest studs in the world. At the beginning, the Austro-Hungarian monarchy was breeding horses for military purpose, and they were of different colors. But when the purpose shifted from military to hi-class cultural performances, they started developing only white horses through genetic manipulation with artificial selection. Nowadays every Lippizaner is born black, and turns white with age, due to the “gray gene”, the same gene that is responsible for our gray hair.

Not all actually. Every now and then, because of the combination of recessive genes, a Lippizaner that maintains the native color is born. There is only one example in mother stud Lipica, a rare black Lippizaner stallion Conversano Bonadea 331, named »Blacky« by his trainer Urša.