Tempel Lipizzans: a good bet for summer entertainment

Tempel Lipizzans: a good bet for summer entertainment
Photo: Carole Kuhrt-Brewer

Chicago is lucky to have the world’s largest, privately owned herd of Lipizzan. The beautiful, typically white horses, are known for their exquisite performances of equestrian dressage.

 The original horses first arrived in the Chicago area 60 years ago in 1958 when founders Tempel and Esther Smith imported twenty Lipizzans from Piber, Austria to take up residence on what was to become Tempel Farm–thereby establishing the herd now known as the Tempel Lipizzans.

Currently 76 horses are at home at the Old Mill Creek, IL farm just north of Chicago, where they are trained and cared for–bringing classical dressage to U.S. audiences while remaining a driving force behind the reinvestment in the breed–an endangered domestic animal.Tempellippfarm

During the summer months, The Tempel Lipizzan horses put on a series of live, 90-minute programs of synchronized movements, athleticism, and harmony between horse and rider set to classical music on select Sundays, Wednesdays, and Saturdays. 

Each live, outdoor performance follows the horses’ training progression from newest foals, frolicking around the arena, to the precise power of young stallions, to the refined grand finale of “Quadrille: Ballet of the White Stallions,” in which four highly trained adult horses perform difficult, dance-like movements in exquisite unison.

Performance highlights include the gravity-defying, military-style “Airs Above the Ground” leaps of “The Capriole,” “The Courbette,” and “The Levade” in which few breeds outside of the Lipizzan are able to perform. The Lipizzans also demonstrate a “Tribute to the Olympic Sport of Dressage,” a musical freestyle as one would see in modern day dressage competitions performed by the top riders in the sport as well as artistic choreography called the “Pas De Trois,” or ballet for three performed by intermediate-level stallions. In addition, this summer’s performance season features a Grand Prix, Long Rein performance – the only location in the United States where such a high level Long Rein can be observed. 


“It was not until I began to lead the Tempel Lipizzans that I came to understand the importance of our organization in the public sphere and my grandparents’ foresight to import this breed and culture to the U.S.,” said Program Director Esther Buonanno. “Though dressage was created to keep horses performing in the imperial courts after their service was no longer necessary on the battleground, their beauty and service is undeniable to the arts and our history even today. These horses in exhibition keep us connected to something deeper and richer than anything else we encounter in our daily lives.”


Following each performance, guests can enjoy a self-guided tour through the stallion stables to meet the equine stars and ask questions of Tempel Lipizzansriders, trainers and working students.

Guest are invited to stop by after the show to meet trainers and horses like Jerry pictured here. Photo: Carole Kuhrt-Brewer

Guest are invited to stop by after the show to meet trainers and horses like Jerry pictured here. Photo: Carole Kuhrt-Brewer

Tempel Lipizzans will also host a 60th Anniversary Gala Celebration on Saturday, July 21 at 5:30 p.m. at the stallion stables at Tempel Farms. The event will honor the foresight of its founders and ongoing mission to bring awareness to the art of classical riding and the Lipizzan breed in the U.S. Tickets are $150 per person and include a special performance by the Tempel Lipizzans followed by food, refreshments, and live music performed by the String Quartet of the Northbrook Symphony. The event will also include a special viewing of never-before-seen footage of Tempel Lipizzans’ original herd as they traveled from Austria to their new home in the U.S. For more information or to purchase tickets, visit www.tempelfarms.com/gala.

Summer 2018 Performance Schedule:

  • Sundays at 1:00 p.m.: Aug. 5, Aug. 12, Aug. 19, and Sep. 2
  • Wednesdays at 1:00 p.m.: July 18, July 25, Aug. 1, Aug. 15, and Aug. 22
  • Saturdays at 6:00 p.m.: July 14, and Aug. 25

Tempel Farms’ outdoor café opens for lunch at 11:30 a.m. on performance Sundays and Wednesdays, and at 4:30 p.m. on performance Saturdays for dinner and drinks. VIP seating featuring complimentary wine and refreshments is also available.

Tempel Farms is located in northern Lake County, Ill., a 50-minute drive from Chicago or Milwaukee, near Great America. In case of inclement weather, performances are held indoors. Parking is free.


Advance tickets start at $27 with discounts for children under 15, active military personal, and veterans. For more information and to purchase tickets, visit www.tempelfarms.com or call (847) 244-5330.

About Tempel Lipizzans

In 1958, Chicago industrialist Tempel Smith and his wife, Esther, began a year of negotiations with the Austrian government to import 20 Lipizzans to America. Tempel Farms soon became home to the largest privately-owned herd of Lipizzans in the world. Over the past 59 years, there have been more than 900 foals born at Tempel Farms, which remains one of only a few places in the world where rare Lipizzan horses are bred, trained and perform on the same property. In 1997, the owners were awarded the Officers Cross from the Austrian Government for their careful preservation of Austrian culture in the United States.

Tempel Lipizzans have been featured in six presidential inaugurals and the 1976 Bicentennial Celebration in Washington, D.C., ridden by President Ronald Reagan and Morocco’s King Hassan II, and called to a command performance for the Carter family on the White House lawn. It was also Tempel Lipizzans that, in 1985, pulled the casket of The Unknown Soldier of the Vietnam War at Arlington National Cemetery.

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