In 1581, twenty-four broodmares and six stallions were bought in Spain.
Once the renovation was completed in 1585, Franc Jurko, the first manager of the stud farm, informed the Archduke that the existence of the stud farm had been secured.
In 1594 the management purchased an adjoining estate found on the right of today’s vehicle entrance from Sežana, where there is now a golf course for 600 florins.
On 7 September 1658 the Archbishop issued instructions to the stable master, which included 23 items comprising work schedule and development plan.
Under the reign of Emperor Joseph (1705–1711) new buildings were erected in Lipica, among which a stable for stallions (Velbanca) and a chapel with a chaplaincy. In the same period, meadows, roads and forests were prepared.
The period under Emperor Charles VI (1711-1740) was very important for the development of Lipica. The manager at that time, Maks pl. Oblak, later to become Baron Wolkensperg, took the lease on the former estate of the Auerspergs in Postojna.
In Vienna the construction of a riding school, the purpose of which would be to supply horses for court ceremonies, started in 1729 and the school soon became famous all over the world. In 1735 54 stallions from Lipica performed at the inauguration of the Vienna court riding hall. The stud farm in Lipica was gradually expanding when three new estates in the vicinity of Postojna were bought: Poček, Bile and Prestranek.
The Lipizzan breed, such as it is known today, was developed in the times under the Empress Maria Theresa (1740-1780). It was Maria Theresa’s husband Francis Stephen, Duke of Lorraine, that took great interest in horse breeding. Of 22 stallions from the 18th century today's descendants belong to four breeding lines: Pluto (Denmark, 1765), Conversano (Italy, 1767), Favory (Austria, 1779) and Neapolitano (Italy, 1790).
In the period between 1797 and 1815 the stud farm was afflicted with a series of hardships and calamities. On 22 March 1797 a herd of over three hundred horses had to flee for the first time to escape Napoleon’s army which was penetrating through the Venetian region towards Carniola and Štajerska. The herd moved to Székesfehérvar in Hungary. After the Campoformi Agreement was signed on 17 October 1797 the herd was returned safely to Lipica.
Soon afterwards, in 1802, the stud farm was damaged by an earthquake in which some buildings were destroyed and several elite stallions died.
Following the 1809 Schönbrun Peace Agreement, the town of Trieste and the region of Carniola were annexed to France, forcing the Emperor to withdraw for the second time the herd of 289 horses from Lipica to Peczko near Mesöhegyesa in Hungary. The horses arrived in Peczko on 27 June 1809 and stayed there until 1815.
In the period under French occupation frequent epidemics decimated the herd.
The original studbooks and complete documentation were lost during Napoleon’s wars.
In 1811 Marshal Marmont leased the Lipica estate. The beautiful landscape around Lipica was almost devastated for the first time in history, due to over-exploitation and excessive felling. After the battle near Leipzig from 16 to 18 October 1813 and the Vienna Conference (November 1814 – 9 June 1815) Lipica again fell under the Austro-Hungarian Monarchy.
The herd returned to Lipica, the destroyed stables and other buildings were reconstructed and the almost devastated landscape restored.
In 1816 a pure-bred Arab stallion, Siglavy, born in 1810, was introduced to the herd. The fifth classical line of Lipizzan stallions originates from his descendants and is still being bred today.
The studbooks of the horses who survived were restored. These books were then kept in duplicate; the stud farm used the first copy as a working record, while the second was kept in the Hofburg Imperial Palace in Vienna. The oldest entries in the studbooks refer to horses born in 1810 and also contain notes on their progenitors. The oldest entry concerns the mare Golomba, born in 1738.
At the order of Emperor Francis II the breeding stock of the stud farm was enriched by new bloodlines of predominantly Arab origin. The Arab mares gave birth to two of the total sixteen classical families of mares: Mercurio (1806), Djebrin (1824). Among many stallions introduced in the 19th century the stallion Maestoso X (Austria, Kladrubec) deserves particular attention, as he was breeding in the Hungarian military stud farm Mesöhegyes. He arrived at Lipica in 1837 to form the sixth parallel classical line of stallions which started with a stallion named Maestoso Buda (Lipica, 1821). Among many new mares of predominantly Oriental origin another two of the sixteen classical families were formed: Gidrane (1841) and Theodorosta (1870).
As Lipica was located relatively far from the then capital of the empire, transport costs were high and the management of the stud farm proposed to move the stud farm somewhere closer to Vienna.
In 1848 Emperor Francis Joseph I decided to keep the stud farm in Lipica. The renovation of the farm was managed by an extremely efficient general, Count Karel Grünne, who lived in Lipica until 1875.
In 1892 Emil Finger was appointed the last Austrian manager of the Lipica Stud Farm. He began extensive land improvement in Lipica and Prestranek and organised the renovation of the stables and riding grounds.
On 18 May 1915, when Italy entered the war, the emperor ordered the immediate evacuation of the Lipica herd. The core herd had to abandon its homeland for the fourth time; the last train left the station on 29 May 1915. The stallions and mares were moved to Laxenburg near Vienna and 137 foals to Kladrub.
At the end of World War II the newly-established Czechoslovakia kept all the horses from Lipica, while an international committee held negotiations on the return of part of the herd – which had been transferred to Laxenburg – back to Lipica which at that time was occupied by Italy. After marathon negotiations Lipica welcomed back 109 horses (2 stallions, 42 mares and 65 foals), representatives of all six classical lines of stallions and thirteen of the then fifteen known classical families of mares (but without any mares from the families of Gidrane, 1841, and Rava, 1755). Italians used the acquired breeding stock to renew the breeding in Lipica. Together with the breeding stock, Italy also received the second copy of the studbooks which had been kept in Hofburg near Vienna from 1816.
Following the capitulation of Italy, the German army occupied the region of Trieste and the Adriatic coast was annexed to the Third Reich. The Karst was the location of a partisan attack on Trieste and on 12 October 1943 the German army withdrew all 179 horses (6 stallions, 54 mares and 119 foals born between 1940 and 1943) together with their studbooks to Hostinec (Hostau) in the Sudetes in Czechoslovakia. The headquarters of the German cavalry added another herd of 108 horses from Piber (2 stallions, 36 mares and 70 foals) and a great number of horses of other breeds from occupied countries.
After the Yalta conference (February 1945) Czechoslovakia was ruled by the Soviet Union. The German garrisons were disbanded and the displaced inhabitants were left to the squalor of post-war devastation, meaning that the breeding stock of the centuries-old Lipizzan stud farm was also at stake.
The head of the US cavalry intelligence, Colonel Reed, proposed to General Patton to carry out a brisk military operation to save the horses. The American supreme military command denied the request for an operation on territory which was controlled by the Red Army. General Patton took the initiative and on 28 April 1945 the Americans conducted a bold military operation and transferred the horses to an area governed by Allied Forces. Captain Stewart, a senator’s son who participated in saving the horses described the operation in a letter dated 12 May 1945. Only a few days after, on 7 May 1945, Colonel Podhajsky, Head of the Spanish Riding School, pleaded with General Patton to protect the stallions which had been transferred from Vienna to St. Martin. (The return of the Lipizzans to the Spanish Riding School was the theme of the Disney film from 1963 “The Miracle of the White Stallions”).
Following the withdrawal of Allied Forces in 1947 Lipica became part of the Federal People’s Republic of Yugoslavia. It only received 11 horses from the herd which was confiscated by the Germans during the war. The studbooks and 80 horses (5 stallions, 42 mares and 33 foals), which were confiscated during the war by Germans, were assigned to Italy on 18 November 1947. The Italians first took the horses to Pinerola in Piemonte and at the beginning of 1948 they moved them to the military stud farm Montelibretti near Rome. The studbooks were used here until 1952. Today they are kept as an important part of the heritage in the Italian state stud farm of Lipizzans in Monterotondo near Rome.
In 1949 the Federal Ministry of Agriculture and Forestry allocated 54 Lipizzan horses to the Lipica Stud Farm.
In 1950 the Lipica Stud Farm passed from federal to republican administration. The stud farm lost its estates in the vicinity of Prestranek and a large number of the best stallions and broodmares.
In 1952 a Department of Haute École and Dressage Riding was established. At its helm was the renowned Russian dressage trainer Akarov.
In 1953 the Lipica Stud Farm lost its status as a state institution and fell under the jurisdiction of local and people’s councils. These councils were not interested in preserving the stud farm and were planning to shut it down. Later the then president Josip Broz–Tito used his personal influence to keep it running.
In spite of difficulties, the first appearance on the international stage followed in 1956. Alfonz Pečovnik with his mare Thais IX performed successfully in the international tournament in Vienna and one year later in Aachen
In 1959 Lipica was taken over by the company Jadran Sežana which covered the losses of the stud farm in the following decade. In the sixties, Lipica opened up to the public and thus the foundations for its tourist development were set. As the costs increased, the company Jadran Sežana severed the stud farm and transformed it into the Horse-breeding Institute of Lipica. The number of horses decreased and the activities focused mainly on the development of tourism.
In 1963 the stud farm owned only 59 horses. In the following years breeding recovered and the stud farm started opening up to tourism.
To accommodate the increasing number of visitors each year, Hotel Maestoso was built in 1971 and a dressage riding programme for visitors was launched. In the following year the Ministry of Agriculture cancelled the grant to the stud farm and in the same year the grant from the then republican budget was also cut.
A decade of self-management, planned budget and intensive construction followed. In this period a large and a small riding hall were constructed, three outdoor riding grounds, a stable featuring a riding hall, a stable for private horses, hay barns, a hippodrome and blocks of flats for the employees. The historical appearance of Lipica changed substantially due to these new constructions which are, however, now considered questionable from the point of view of urban design and architecture.
In 1974 the first international tournament in dressage riding was organised. Towards the end of the seventies, the life of Josip Broz–Tito was nearing the end. This was the man who tried to preserve the unity of the Yugoslav state, which was a patchwork of several nations and cultures, through his strong personality and persuasion. The internal political crisis at that time deepened as a reflection of the anticipated death of the president. Disintegration of Yugoslavia was drawing closer. Lipica was in dire straits because of the cancelled governmental support. Under the patronage of Tito, the communist government decided to build another hotel in Lipica to celebrate the 400th anniversary of the stud farm. In 1980 the construction of Hotel Klub was completed and Lipica celebrated its anniversary. The representatives of all Lipizzan stud farms and breeders attended the central event celebrating 400 years of the stud farm. The horses from the Spanish Riding School from Vienna performed. In the same year a CHIO (Concours Hippique International Officiel) tournament was organised; Lipica also became home to the renowned Slovenian avant-garde artist Avgust Černigoj. In 1984 the Lipica team successfully performed at the dressage competition at the Olympic Games in Los Angeles.
In 1985 the FEI (Federation Equestre Internationale) dressage tournament for the World Cup took place in Lipica for the first time. The artist August Černigoj died in the same year.
In 1986 the Lipizzan International Federation (LIF) was founded in Lipica. The gallery of August Černigoj was opened and features 1,400 works of art.
In the mid-eighties the stud farm was again in a difficult financial situation and its management decided to develop some completely new activities in the middle of this precious and delicate cultural environment.
The war in 1991 slashed the number of visitors. The herd decreased drastically. Losses piled up.
In 1993 the Lipica Stud Farm organised the European Championship in dressage riding. Then, Lipica's financial situation worsened and the real estate, equipment and herd of horses were ceded to the Municipality of Sežana. The latter undertook to meet the obligations of running the estate, the herd of horses and the Gallery of August Černigoj, but was unable to provide sufficient financial resources.
A government committee was established to draw up a bill on the Lipica Stud Farm. When the Lipica Stud Farm Act was adopted in 1996 the Lipica Stud Farm became a public institution owned by the Republic of Slovenia. In the same year the Lipizzan International Federation celebrated its tenth anniversary in Lipica.
Since the establishment of the public institution, the stud farm had made significant progress. The architectural core of Lipica, which was under monumental protection, was renovated and the herd was enlarged.
In 2002 the Lipica Stud Farm was recognised as a breeding organisation holding the original studbooks of the Lipizzan breed.
At the beginning of 2003 the Government of the Republic of Slovenia adopted the Lipica Stud Farm Protection and Development Programme for 2002-2005.
In May 2005 the stud farm celebrated its 425th anniversary.