The South African Lipizzaners
In 1944 a select few Lipizzaners were rescued from war-torn Europe and brought to South Africa by Count Jankovich-Besan. The stallions at Kyalami are direct descendants of those horses and their predecessors.
In 1951, Major George Iwanowski, a Cavalry Officer, left his native Poland to come to South Africa. He met Count Jankovich-Besan at the Royal Show in Pietermaritzburg, visited his stud and was offered a Lipizzaner to train, and thus ‘Maestoso Erdem’ became the first Lipizzaner to be seen demonstrating High School Dressage movements.
It was then that the idea was born to have a team of Lipizzaner Stallions give performances similar to those of The Spanish Riding School in Vienna. So the training of the stallions began.
In 1960 Major George Iwanowski began developing his equestrian centre in Kyalami : he gradually built up a team of eight stallions, which travelled countrywide giving performances and in 1969 he built the first indoor hall in South Africa especially for their training, still our home today.
In 1971 Colonel Handler, then Chief of the Spanish Riding School, opened our first regular Sunday performance here. Major George Iwanowski was closely associated with the team from then onwards.
He eventually returned home to his native Poland and was awarded full military Honours as ‘Colonel’ on his 100th birthday in 2007. He passed away in 2008 at the age of 101. We owe him a huge debt of gratitude for establishing the Lipizzaners here in South Africa.
The South African Lipizzaners is an NPC dedicated to the advancement of this proud cultural heritage and the preservation of this most ancient breed of horse.
Over the years, the South African Lipizzaners have become an integral part of South Africa's cultural heritage and often appear on film and television, at various public performances, as well as their regular Sunday morning shows.