Friday, August 10, 2012

Royal Lipizzaner Stallions Perform at Hamilton House

A Royal Lippizzaner that featured at Hamilton House last weekend

Story and photo by C.Ayn Douglass
Staff Columnist

A piece of Historic New England hosted a piece of historic Austria last weekend when Herrmann's Royal Lipizzaner troop appeared at Hamilton House in South Berwick.
Lipizzaners date back to the 16th century and were originally bred from Andalusian and Arabian bloodlines for the Hapsburg royal family of Austria. During World War 11, General George Patton led a dramatic rescue of the horses ahead of the Russian advance, and that story was documented in Disney's “Miracle of the White Stallions.” In keeping with that military tradition, riders are outfitted in military uniforms.
On August 3, 4, and 6, fourteen stallions and seven riders thrilled horse lovers with dramatic and graceful moves on the grounds of Hamilton House. While appearing like a ballet, the intricate formations were developed as part of battlefield strategy.
Rebecca McCullough is a third generation Herrmann - granddaughter of Ottomar Herrmann who brought the stallions to America in the 1960s. She and her mother, Gabriella Herrmann, are on tour from June through October in the northeast and spend the winters at their farm in Myakka City, Florida, teaching riding and dressage. 
“After Patton saved them, the Herrmann family was given a couple of horses,” she said. “We came to America and settled in Vermont and then in Florida. We keep our riders in military-based clothing partly in honor of Patton and his rescue of the horses and partly to make it pretty.”
McCullough said the horses appearing at Hamilton House range in age between seven and twenty-seven years old.  “We use stallions in our shows because they are flashier, and mares and geldings typically aren't. We have a lot of teenagers (horses) in this show,” she said.
While the horses are all stallions, the seven accompanying riders are all women.  “Our family was mostly girls,” McCullough said. “The boys just don't want to do it. They wanted to go play with trucks and stuff.” Three-year old Sydney McCullough, Rebecca's daughter, is already in training to continue the family legacy and travels with the show.
Peggy Wishart, Historic New England site manager in South Berwick, said the Herrmann's Royal Lipizzaner Stallions have performed at another HNE property in Massachusetts.  “Two years ago they approached us to see if there were other sites where they could perform, and we suggested Hamilton House.  It's a fascinating breed and story,” she said.
The show typically spends one week in each location. Their schedule as well as more information can be found at