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Tuesday, December 7, 2021

Performing horses move to Cape Town to attract tourists



For the first time since arriving in South Africa in 1960 the famous South African Lipizzaners get to call Cape Town their home. The Lipizzaner is one of the oldest domesticated breeds of horse still existing in the world today.

The SA Lipizzaners who has been a part of the Kyalami community for over 70 years settled in at their beautiful new home, the Mistico Equestrian Centre in Paarl on 20 January. The group has achieved much success over the years, touring the country before establishing regular Sunday performances in Kyalami from 1971. The non-profit company has been in Kyalami since 1960, when former Polish cavalry officer Major George Iwanowski came to South Africa and ended up training Lipizzaners which were rescued from war-torn Europe and brought to the country by Count Jankovich-Besan some years before. The current Lipizzaners are descendants of those horses.

In 1960 Major George Iwanowski began developing his equestrian centre in Kyalami and gradually built up a team which travelled countrywide giving performances. In 1969 he built the first indoor hall in South Africa especially for their training, followed by the first regular Sunday performance in 1971.

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. SA Lipizzaners volunteer, Gina Boxley said the move to Cape Town was purely a financial decision. She added that due to the lockdown the group could not perform for most of 2020, and the shows they did run were at half capacity. This, along with a lack of corporate sponsorship had made it hard to support the group’s 35 stallions and 28 mares. The company had to let go of some of its grooms and riders.

“What I will miss most will be visiting the horses in the afternoons when it was just them and me, and hearing them whinny in excitement as I brought them carrots, who did not accompany the group to Cape Town. We hope the move to the Mother City would attract tourists once travel restrictions are eased,” added Boxley,

“We believe that this will provide us with a large and diverse new set of audiences for the Lipizzaners, particularly given the tourists that visit the Cape area during summer. Mistico is the largest livery and show holding venue in the country offering two 950 pax indoor arenas (and a third, even larger, under construction indoor), a 300-guest wedding and conference venue and a weekend restaurant. It is perfectly situated, close to the winelands, to attract both locals and visitors from all over the world! We believe the move to Mistico will ensure the long term sustainability of these very special horses.”

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