A vision in white that puts big smiles on little girls’ (and also boys’) faces. And we’re not talking about weddings! Rather, we’re talking about the majestic white horses of Piber stud farm – the stars of the world-famous Spanish Riding School of Vienna.
For more than 100 years, Piber stud farm has been the birthplace and “nursery” of the famous Lipizzan horses. A visit to the stud is always worthwhile, no matter what time of the year. The beautiful horses cantering across the gentle hills and paddocks around the stud farm are a sight to behold.
During regular opening hours, you can visit the stables and premises at all times (respecting the midday box rest). Guided tours of the stud farm give you fascinating insights into the castle, the stables and the life of the marvellous horses.
See from up close how the Lipizzan foals are lovingly raised by their mothers and find out the answers to questions such as:
• Why are the Lipizzan horses for the Spanish Riding School also called “baroque horses”?
• How many lines of stallions and mares are bred at the stud farm?
• What special characteristics do the “stars” of the stud farm display?
Our tip: Don’t miss the “Follow the herd” exhibition at the newly designed museum of Piber stud farm! In addition to classic exhibits, multimedia displays, interactive experiences and augmented 3D models of landscapes and buildings are waiting to be discovered.
Piber stud farm looks back on four hundred years of horse breeding knowledge for the Spanish Riding School in Vienna.
The imperial court stud already bred excellent horses as early as the mid-18th century. This is proven by the original handwritten stud books that the stud farm has been keeping ever since its beginnings. A few decades ago, the horse breeding experts also started to keep electronic records in addition to the handwritten books.
The collaboration between Piber stud farm and the Spanish Riding School in Vienna is based on a special “life cycle”. Only the very best stallions from Piber go on to perform the lections of the High School at the Spanish Riding School. Later, they come back to Piber stud farm for a breeding season. After their career at the Spanish Riding School, the stallions return to Piber for their well-earned retirement.
In addition to breeding excellent stallions for the Spanish Riding School, the main task of Piber stud farm is to preserve the oldest pure-bred horse breed of its kind. The origins of the Lipizzan horses go back to the year 1580.
Piber stud farm is an international competence centre of Lipizzan horse breeding. In 2016, their “Classical horsemanship” was named an Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity by UNESCO.
The much-cherished dams that are responsible for the famous offspring are the heart and soul of Piber stud farm. Every year, around 40 foals are born at Piber – and every single birth is a unique experience!
Did you know? Unlike their parents, the new-born horses are not white but black, mouse grey or brown. Over the years, their coat acquires its typical white colour. It is not until the age of seven to ten years that most horses display the white coat of the “Schimmel”. However, there are also rare brown Lipizzan horses, one of which is traditionally kept at the stables of Vienna’s Spanish Riding School as a lucky charm.
Baroque Piber castle was built as a Benedictine monastery between 1696 and 1716. The three-storey arcade courtyard is a popular location for weddings, concerts and theatre performances. On the first floor of the south wing, you can find elegant state rooms with impressive stucco ceilings and high vaults – a perfect setting for seminars!
During their entire upbringing, the young Lipizzan horses are lovingly cared for by skilled staff members. For the first six months, the foals stay with their mothers. After that, they spend half a year together as a foal herd. Subsequently, they are separated into two herds – one for stallions and one for mares.
The one- to three-year-old horses spend the summer months on the mountain pastures located at 1,500 metres above sea level – the mares go to Brendlalm, the stallions to Stubalm. This Alpine pasturing is an important part of the breeding process. On the steep, stony Alpine slopes, the horses acquire the necessary surefootedness, stamina and confidence.
However, it’s not just the horses who enjoy the picturesque summer meadows. The Alpine pastures are also popular with guests looking for a scenic summer or winter retreat.
In mid-September, the young horses return to Piber stud farm, accompanied by traditional “Almabtrieb” festivities.
When the mares‘ performance tests start at the age of three, their training begins. The stallions are assessed at the same time, with the best of them going on to Heldenberg training centre.
Every year, there is also a choice of pure-bred Lipizzan horses for sale – much to the delight of horse-lovers around the world.
If you’re looking for a nice spot for a break during your visit to Piber stud farm, we recommend the tastefully furnished Café Restaurant Piber. Their beautiful sun terrace is just perfect for enjoying a la carte dishes, desserts and ice-cream specialities – all of them prepared with high-quality, regional ingredients.
Our tip: The spacious premises of Piber stud farm boast numerous lovely picnic spots. Simply order a ready-made picnic hamper with regional treats at least two hours before pick-up!
By the way: After a fascinating visit to the stud farm, it’s a good idea to relax at Therme NOVA spa. In addition to the spa, many other great sights are just around the corner from Piber.
Picnic at Piber
Order a ready-made picnic hamper from Café Restaurant Piber and enjoy the delicacies on the premises of the stud farm or on an Alpine pasture!
Children’s adventure trail
Young horse lovers can look forward to a little reward if they manage to answer all the questions revolving around young stallion Neapolitano Sessana at 13 stops.
Depending on the weather, the young Lipizzan horses spend their “summer holidays” on the mountain pastures of West Styria from June to mid-September. While the young mares go to Brendlalm, the stallions go to Stubalm.
Foal experience days in March and April
Springtime is foal time! From late January to early May, around 40 foals are born every year at Piber stud farm.
Mother’s Day event in May
The little foals‘ first big performance!
Piber castle festival
Enjoy easy, light-hearted summer theatre in the picturesque courtyard of Piber castle.
“Almabtrieb”: traditional driving down of the horses from the mountain
After three months on the mountain meadows, the young horses return to Piber stud farm in mid-September – accompanied by festivities and celebrations.
During the advent season, the castle’s courtyard hosts a small, charming Christmas market full of arts and crafts, culinary delights and music. The traditional Christmas walk on December 24 is a lovely way to pass the time while waiting for the presents.