You don’t have to head to Europe to see Lipizzan horses perform their famous airs above ground in the style of Austria’s famed Spanish Riding School, just head outside of Chicago to Tempel Farms!
Granted, there’s not much of a STEM connection here. Okay, there’s not any, but when I was offered the chance to attend a performance of the Tempel Lipizzans, I jumped like those famous dancing horses. After reading about this famous breed as a child, my inner horse-crazy little girl couldn’t wait to see them in action.
Tempel Farms is a dressage training facility at which experienced trainers adhere to the standards of training established hundreds of years ago in the classical schools of Europe. Think ballet for horses (and their riders). Dressage, an Olympic equestrian event, requires training, dedication, strength and obedience as horses learn key movements and choreographed routines.
Lipizan horses were bred to excel at pulling carriages, performing in classical riding situations and in battle. Like ballerinas, they dazzle with an intoxicating combination of beauty and strength.
Over the course of the performance, the horses demonstrate each of these areas. The show also highlights the growth and development of the horses starting with a group of mares and their foals walking the ring. Like typical toddlers the foals follow their mothers, but are prone to distraction, so as the ladies walk the ring’s perimeter with their trainers, the youngsters frolic and tease one another.
As the program progresses, the audience meets horses in various stages of their training. The most anticipated moment of the performance is the airs above ground or haute école movements performed by the seasoned and incredibly well-trained horses. These movements, originally taught for use in battle, are incredible to observe. You can see parts of it in the video below. Seeing it in person is something else.
Audience members are welcome to stick around after the performance for photo ops with the stars of the show as well as the chance to check out the barns.
As the Lipizzan horses and their riders or trainers pranced around the ring accompanied by classical music, the performance had a precious feel, as though we were breathing rarefied country air. Having returned from a trip out west just weeks prior, I was curious to know how the atmosphere of the Lipizzan performance could be compared to that of a rodeo. Alas, my trip was complete just before the start of the rodeo season.
Know Before You Go
If you have a horse-lover in your family, it’s worth a trip to Tempel Farms in Old Mill Creek. It feels like a trip to the country, but it’s really just minutes from the Gurnee Mills megamall. Tickets range from $17 -32. Click here for everything you need to plan an outing to see the Tempel Lipizzans.
I sat in the handicapped area because I brought my elderly father along. They have a golf cart to assist those who need it to the seating area. The gentleman who helped us out could not have been nicer. There is plenty of room for folks on scooters, but they could use some sturdier seating options for those who can walk but have difficulty settling in and getting up, like my dad.
Food, drinks and souvenirs are available for purchase on site. There are no indoor bathrooms, but the port-o-potties were very clean during our visit. Weather permitting, performances take place outside.
I was provided with complimentary tickets; all opinions are my own.