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LIPIZZANER STALLIONS BRING A ROYAL THRILL TO STAPLES CENTER.

Byline: Joyce Chen

Staff Writer

Show ponies, they are not. There's no mistaking the Lipizzaner Stallions for anything but royalty.

In addition to their gracious gait, beautiful manes and majestic presence, Lipizzans are known to perform near-acrobatic feats, dance with their riders and even defy gravity in amazing leaps and exercises.

Today, Staples Center will roll out its red carpet and play host to two performances by the "World Famous" Lipizzaner Stallions for the first time in more than 20 years.

Many people know the Lipizzan breed best from the 1963 Disney film "The Miracle of the White Stallions," about Gen. George S. Patton and how he saved the breed during World War II. Only 3,000 Lipizzans remain worldwide.

The two-hour family shows will feature 12 of these rare "dancing stars" of the equestrian world performing spectacular movements accompanied by informative narration.

"Sometimes I think we give our stallions better treatment than we do our riders," joked producer Gary Lashinsky.

"We start training them when they're 4 years old and work them up to a higher training level by the time they're 10 years old. We create a relationship longevity with the horses."

The show, which celebrates its 38th anniversary this year, emulates the Spanish Riding School of Austria.

Audiences can expect to be wowed by the amazing athletic feats of the Lipizzans, including the Capriole trick, a movement heralded by head rider Victor Pozzo as the most well-known and exciting part of the show.

"In the Capriole movement, the horse raises its front legs and body up off the ground, and kicks its hind legs straight back," he said. "It's simply amazing because the horses are then momentarily suspended in the air."

Lashinsky, who has produced other shows such as the Ringling Bros. Barnum & Bailey Circus and the Harlem Globetrotters, explained that the show appeals to people of all ages because of its high performance standards and its family-friendly content.

"People often ask me why I think it is that so many people come out to see the show," Lashinsky said. " I think the appeal is the tradition -- people like that what they see here is what they would see being demonstrated in Austria. We maintain that tradition because it's so important."

Winston Churchill once said that "the greatest thing for the inside of the man is the outside of the horse." To that extent, Pozzo and Lashinsky agree that even those who don't love horses will quickly change their feelings toward the animals after seeing the show.

"I would love for the audience to walk away from the show appreciating the beauty and elegance of the horses and their incredible athletic abilities," said Pozzo.

"What we do now was entertainment for royalty many, many years ago," he said. "We're bringing a dying art to the masses, and we're trying to get to as many people as we can."

Over the years, the Lipizzaners have performed for more than 23 million people throughout the U.S. and Europe, as well as Australia.

It's about time royalty came to visit L.A. again.

Joyce Chen (818) 713-3665 joyce.chen@dailynews.com

WORLD FAMOUS LIPIZZANER STALLIONS

>When: 2 and 7:30 p.m. today.

>Where: Staples Center, 1111 S. Figueroa St., Los Angeles.

>Admission: $100 for limited Gold Circle seats; $35, $50 and $75 for adult regular seating, with discounts for children 12 and younger, seniors and groups of 15 or more.

>Tickets: Staples Center box office or www.ticketmaster.com.

>Information: (213) 742-7340.

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Photo:

One of the World Famous Lipizzaner Stallions performs the crowd-pleasing Capriole move, in which it is momentarily suspended in the air. The troupe comes to Staples Center for two shows today.
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Title Annotation:LA.COM
Publication:Daily News (Los Angeles, CA)
Date:Jul 12, 2008
Words:619
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