Adventure is in the eye of the beholder. Maybe you need an adrenaline rush that scares the crap out of you. (Running with the Bulls) Maybe you desire a physical challenge like Hiking the Zugspitze. Or, possibly an adventure to you is simply doing something you love in a new and exciting place.
I love golfing, but golfing at St. Andrew's course in Scotland was out of this world. It was an adventure I dreamed about, amazed over, and now one that I get to brag about!
There are many great adventures out there to fit your favorite activities, and there are lots of new ones waiting for you to try. The great part of travel is that there are endless possibilities, and sometimes adventure finds you.
Horseback riding is something I have never done. My good friend Gail, however, is adamant about getting me on the back of one of these fine creatures. It is for her love of horses that I'm driven to write about this adventure
Lipica, Slovenia. Ever heard of it? Neither had I until I stumbled upon it driving back from an exotic Croatian adventure. (that's a tale for another time) But, I'm sure glad I discovered this gem because it gave me an appreciation for an activity I never thought I'd like.
This small city in what is now the country of Slovenia has a long, hard history. Through an unsettling history of war, dictatorships, and even earthquakes this little place hides a diamond underneath it all. That diamond in the rough is a rare breed of horses named Lipizzaner.
Now, I'll be honest, I am at a kindergarten level when it comes to knowing anything about horses. However, this place and these animals felt special to me. I was excited to be in foreign territory as far as adventure goes because it meant I was about to get a world's view education.
Going back in history this Lipica Stud Farm was started by an Arch Duke named Charles from the Habsburgs Monarchy. Charles brought Spanish horses to this abandoned summer home in the 16th century and set it up as a breeding farm for horses of royalty. Setting the bar as high as possible he desired to produce only the finest horses.
Unfortunately, the farm and horses were uprooted many times. For their own protection during war times the herd was moved to safer residence. This of course disturbs the process of pure-bred breeding and the process of building up a bigger herd. There were several years when times were tough and numbers dropped to 25 or fewer horses.
The Lipizzaners are a resilient breed; however, and thanks to the love of several good horse breeders the blood line is still alive. Today the Lipica Stud Farm is over 400 years old, and is considered the oldest European Stud Farm continuously breeding one of the oldest horse breeds. That is quite a feet considering their rough history.
Due to the destructive war times and an earthquake there is little left of the original place, but the layout plan is said to be similar to that of what Charles had wanted. Somehow a few buildings did survive history and give us a sneak peak back in time. One of these is called Velbanca and has a date posted of 1703. It is said to be the oldest building on the property and was built as a stable for the stallions.
The other impressive part about this farm is the record keeping. The breed of horses is very important especially if they are being raised for royalty. Therefore, bloodlines were written down to keep track of which horses were from which line. The studbook, as they call it, has kept history on track, and the oldest recorded entry was a mare called Golomba who was born in 1738.
This little gem of a place was inspiring. Driving up the road and entering this paradise you see white fences that stretch for miles. Horses are running in the beautiful pastures and huge trees provide a shaded canopy as you enter the main grounds.
One way in which they were able to keep the farm alive was by incorporating tourism. They welcome visitors into the information building where you can set up a tour of the whole farm, buy tickets for viewing a classic riding demonstration, and a slew of other activities.
The horses are beautiful creatures. Like I said, my knowledge is minimal, but I was in awe with this fine breed. I learned that when they are born they come out dark in color, possibly brown, black or grey. Then as they age their color fades to a beautiful white. They kept the colts sectioned together where you could see this change on their coats taking place.
Watching the trainers work with these horses was also a fun treat. They bowed, trotted, backed up, and danced. They were brilliant and agile. I wanted to ride and try out this new adventure for myself.
Unfortunately this was not possible for me on this trip. Due to my lack of horse riding experience and the allotted time frame riding one of these royal horses was not an option. The experience alone did open my eyes to a whole new adventure I had never thought about. For the moment, that was good enough for me.
Today this farm is a great place for horse lovers to go on an adventure. They provide week long riding programs with lessons, stable duties, and accommodations. They also have short trail riding trips for experienced riders and carriage rides for less knowledgeable horse people like myself. Needless to say, they have a little bit of everything for any ability. You may not be a horse lover when you enter, but I bet you will be one when you leave. It's an experience of a lifetime, of history, and of royalty. Get on your horse and do it; you won't regret this adventure.