This will make you smile: Lipizzan colt in Lake County, just days old, enjoys life, his whiskers
A small, special new horse felt the sunshine for the first time Friday, and he liked it.
The rare Lipizzan colt was born last week at Tempel Farms in Old Mill Creek, near Wadsworth in Lake County. On Friday, his third day, he was led to a pasture by herd and breeding manager Arturo Novoa and spent the next half-hour jumping and running circles around his mother. After seeing mom roll in the soft grass, the foal clumsily duplicated the feat.
Mother and son were joined in the pasture by another colt born four weeks ago.
"He doesn't know what he's doing yet," program director Esther Buonanno said. "He's running around and finding his legs and being adorable."
He also found the long whiskers around his mouth and used his pink tongue to feel them so much that Novoa rounded him up to make sure nothing was wrong. "He just likes his whiskers," Novoa said.
The dark-haired youngster was named Favory Bionda after both his parents in a 450-year-old tradition. He joins an elite breed of horses numbering less than 8,500 in the world, according to the U.S. Lipizzan Federation. Seventy-five are at Tempel Farms.
"It's about preservation of the breed," Buonanno said.
It was her grandparents who brought the first Lipizzans from Europe to their northern Illinois farm in 1958. The farm's mission is to promote the Lipizzans through a careful breeding and training program. The family has 20 public exhibitions planned this year. Eight new horses were born at the farm during each of the last two seasons.
The origins of the breed come from Spanish and Austrian royal families who bred them in the mid-1500s for war purposes and classical riding.
Today, they are trained to show and compete in dressage, an Olympic sport that requires the horse and rider to perform fluid step movements and jumps. That includes the difficult Airs above the Ground, where the horse leaps high and brings itself completely horizontal as it kicks its hind legs.
The breed is known for its small, sturdy stature, powerful legs and intelligence. As they grow, they turn white in six to eight years.
"I think he is very athletic," Buonanno said after watching the leggy colt. "We get accustomed to their personality. I think he will be a good horse for us."
For the next four years, Favory Bionda will have all the play time he wants. Training won't start until after that. For now, he is just finding his legs and enjoying his whiskers.