On hundreds of white-fenced acres halfway between Chicago and Milwaukee, visitors step inside a sprawling stable, and a Lipizzan stallion pricks his ears and peers from his stall. He’s big and beautiful, but like the well-rounded athlete that he is, he’s also sociable, making funny faces in response to vigorous neck rubs.
Two tours (a small VIP option and the more affordable group alternative) provide an inside look at The Tempel Lipizzans in Old Mill Creek, Illinois. Guests watch as trainers and stallions practice the movements of classical dressage, developed over centuries and continents. The maneuvers are still taught today at the Spanish Riding School in Austria, which has also protected the horses bred specifically to perform them.
Photo courtesy of The Tempel Lipizzans
Steel magnate Tempel Smith and his wife, Esther, developed their Illinois property after attending one of the Spanish Riding School’s performances in the 1950s. Tempel’s 70 Lipizzans are among just 8,500 worldwide.
Behind-the-scenes tours are $25 for adults and $15 for kids. On VIP tours ($250 total), two to six people also meet the mares and their babies.
On select days from June to September, you can attend matinee and evening performances ($17 to $32) in the outdoor arena. Dates are staggered to give the horses physical and mental breaks; see the website for details (tempelfarms.com).