1st December 2022 will be written in golden letters in the history of the National Stud. It was on this day that the historically rare Lipizzaner breed was entered into the UNESCO list of Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity. Slovakia, together with 7 other countries, succeeded with the joint nomination "Traditions associated with the breeding of Lipizzaner horses".
The process of registration of the LIPICAN horse breed in UNESCO
Lipizzaner is one of the oldest cultural horse breeds in the world. It was bred at the Lipica stud in today's Slovenia as a strong and elegant horse suitable for noble families in the period when the Habsburg dynasty ruled all of Central Europe. Since the foundation of the Lipizzaner stud farm in 1580, Lipizzaner breeding has spread to many European countries. It has been connecting interested people despite changing political systems for over 450 years. The most intensive breeding took place in the 18th century, which is also the period from which the oldest written mentions of Lipizzaners in central and northern Slovakia come from. The independent history of Lipizzaner breeding in Slovakia began after the establishment of the Czechoslovak Republic with the establishment of the National Stud in Topoľčianky in 1921. The stud farm followed the cultural heritage of the former Austro-Hungarian monarchy in breeding procedures, in the way of care and training of horses.
The wide range of cultural and social practices, knowledge and skills, oral traditions, ceremonial events and equestrian sports associated with the breeding of Lipizzaner horses inspired representatives from Bosnia and Herzegovina, Croatia, Hungary, Austria, Romania, Slovakia, Slovenia and Italy to nominate the element "Breeding LIPICAN horse breed" for inclusion in the UNESCO List of Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity. However, this was preceded by the condition of registration at the national level, which was decided by the expert committee. Slovakia fulfilled this condition as the fourth country behind Austria, Slovenia and Croatia. On November 6, 2017 in Bratislava, during a ceremonial event, from the hands of the Minister of Culture, Mr. Marek Maďarič, the director of the National stud farm "Topoľčianky" š.p., Michal Horný, received the certificate of registration of the "Lipizzaner horse breeding in Topoľčianky" in the Representative List of Intangible Cultural Heritage Slovak Republic. The certificate presentation ceremony took place in the theatre of SĽUK and was organized by the Centre for Traditional Folk Culture.
The international nomination of eight European countries emphasizes the common heritage connecting communities and states at the national and international level. Representatives of national stud farms, private breeders and other experts in the field of culture, as well as local communities from all participating countries, met during the preparation of the nomination. The preparation of the nomination was coordinated by the Ministry of Culture of the Republic of Slovenia. It was a complex process, when all countries had to focus on the common basis of Lipizzaner breeding, but at the same time to mention local specificities in a balanced way. Representatives of individual stud farms and private breeders agreed on the common name of the element "Traditions of horse breeding of the LIPICAN breed". In addition to administrative files, forms, petitions and informed consents, the agenda also contained numerous photographs and video documentation. During this process lasting almost ten years, many international meetings of representatives of individual countries of participating stud farms were held, where the activity of preparing the nomination and the selection of compatible information were coordinated so that the specifics of Lipizzaner breeding from each country were represented. In March 2020, the nomination was completed and sent to the UNESCO committee for consideration.
The 17th meeting of the Intergovernmental Committee for the Protection of the Intangible Cultural Heritage of UNESCO was held from November 28 to December 3, 2022 in Rabat, Morocco, to decide on the acceptance of 46 files. The element "Traditions of breeding the Lipizzaner horse", which represents the common cultural heritage of the submitting states, was accepted into the list for the protection of the World Intangible Cultural Heritage of UNESCO without comments. This initiative strengthened the socio-cultural ties between communities from different countries. The common heritage of this element creates the potential to connect people across borders, to work together on the basis of a common system of knowledge and values in different areas that are interconnected in their conservation needs.
As a recognized breeding organization, the National Stud Topoľčianky currently has 202 Lipizzaner horses in its stables, of which 44 are elite breeding mares. The good news is that the number of Lipizzaners bred in Slovakia has increased over the past 10 years. While 643 Lipizzaners and 127 breeders and owners of these horses were registered a decade ago, as of 31.12.2021, 831 Lipizzaners and 219 breeders were registered. It remains to be believed that thanks to the inclusion in the world's intangible cultural heritage, the Lipizzaner breed will not disappear and the way it is bred will remain unchanged for future generations.