Historic Highlights of the Tempel Lipizzans

A timeline takes a look back on 50 years of the Tempel Lipizzans' growth from a seed planted by a man with a vision of flying horses.
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A timeline takes a look back on 50 years of the Tempel Lipizzans' growth from a seed planted by a man with a vision of flying horses.

August 1958: Chicago industrialist Tempel Smith imports the first 20 Lipizzan horses. They arrive in New York harbor from Piber, Austria.

January 4, 1959: The first foal is born at Tempel Farms in Old Mill Creek, Ill.

1962: Hungarian Lipizzans are imported to join the Tempel herd.

1963: Dr. Mikulas Ferjencik, a former general in the Czechoslovakian army in charge of the entire country's army stud, joins the Tempel Lipizzans as the veterinarian in charge of the breeding program.

1963: Three stallions and three mares are imported from the Yugoslavian State Stud in Lipica.

1965: Alf Athenstaedt, star pupil of Germany's famed trainer Willi Schultheis, joins the Tempel staff. He becomes director of training and trains horses and riders for many years thereafter, riding and showing Lipizzans under saddle and in hand during the farm's special events and in summer performances.

1960s through 1970s: Hans Irbinger visits the Tempel Lipizzans annually to help guide the training program. Willi Schultheis is also a regular visitor.

1976: The Tempel Lipizzans participate in the Bicentennial Celebration of the United States.

1978: The Lipizzan Quadrille performs at the Three-Day Event World Championships in Lexington, Ky.

1979: A special exhibition by the Lipizzans in honor of First Lady Rosalynn Carter and the Girl Scouts of America is held on the White House lawn.

1980: Karl Mikolka, Oberbereiter at the Spanish Riding School in Vienna, Austria, and former coach of the Brazilian Olympic team from 1968 to 1972, joins the Tempel Farms staff as director of training. (At the Spanish Riding School, Mikolka had been under the tutelage of Alfred Cerha, who had also trained Col. Alois Podhajsky.)

1980: Founder Tempel Smith passes away.

January 1981: American rider George Williams joins the Tempel Lipizzan staff to study under Karl Mikolka. He would become director of the training and breeding programs and a familiar figure at top dressage competitions, riding both the Lipizzans and clients' horses.

1981: The Tempel Lipizzans take part in Ronald Reagan's presidential inaugural ceremonies.

1982: Tempel Farms is opened to the public for the first time for biweekly summer performances.

1984: Tempel Lipizzans are donated to the 3rd U.S. Infantry Regiment's Caisson Platoon. One of their tasks is to take the remains of an unidentified American soldier from the Vietnam War to rest at the Tomb of the Unknowns at Arlington Cemetery.

1988: The Tempel Lipizzan Corporation is formed, an important step in moving forward. George Williams becomes the director. Linda Smith Buonanno, Tempel Smith's daughter, becomes the president.

1990 and 1991: Conversano II Belvedera, ridden by Jennifer Leffingwell, Tempel Smith's granddaughter, helps the Region 2 team win the North American Young Riders' Championships two years in a row.

October 1997: Linda Smith Buonanno and Martha Smith Simpson, Tempel Smith's daughters, receive the Officer's Cross, Grand Decoration of Honor for Service to the Republic of Austria, for their "careful management of a cultural institution with such close ties to Austria."

1997: Larry Leffingwell, Tempel Smith's grandson, takes over the position of general manager of Tempel Farms from Howard Simpson, the husband of Smith's daughter Martha.

1997: Karl Mikolka retires from Tempel.

2000: George Williams resigns to focus on riding in national and international competitions.

2002: Alf Athenstaedt retires.

2002: Jochen Hippenstiel, who studied under Harry Boldt and Willi Schultheis and was twice second in the National Grand Prix Championships in Germany, is named director of training for the Tempel Lipizzans.

2003: Larry Leffingwell becomes manager for the Tempel Lipizzans.

2004: Jochen Hippenstiel competes Favory VIII Bellanna in open competitions against Warmbloods with great success, giving a new boost to the existing competition program.

2005: Pluto Distinta arrives from Piber, Austria, as new bloodlines begin to be introduced to the Tempel herd.

2006: Maestoso Betosta, a yearling given to the Tempel Lipizzans as a gift, arrives from Austria.

2006: Maestoso Legeny is purchased from a private breeder to join the breeding program.

2007: The Tempel Lipizzans celebrate 25 years of public performances.

2008: The Tempel Lipizzans celebrate their 50th anniversary.

To find out more about Tempel Farms, visit www.tempelfarms.com.