MYAKKA CITY -- It was storming outside Wednesday afternoon with gusting wind and rain blowing almost sideways.
Gabriella Herrmann kept her "boys" -- her majestic Royal Lipizzan stallions -- in the stable.
"We don't let them outside in weather like this," she said.
But the weather will be nicer today, mostly sunny with highs in the upper 60s.
The stallions will be outdoors for their winter training show season and the public is invited to watch them prepare for the 2013 touring season at Herrmann's Royal Lipizzan Ranch, 32755 Singletary Road, Myakka City.
Shows are set at 3 p.m. Thursdays and Fridays and 10 a.m. Saturdays through April.
The horses have had a few months off, and they are rearing to go, Hermann said.
The performers range in age from 7 like the youngster Achilles, whose mane is still gray, to veterans like Nicky, a 20-year-old who has gone all white, and who performs "airs above the ground."
The airs-above-the-ground maneuver can be traced back to antiquity when war horses were trained to strike out with all four hooves off the ground at once, inspiring fear in foot soldiers.
Now days, the highly trained horses no longer wage war, but they show their careful breeding and training to the delight of audiences near and far.
Col. Ottomar Herrmann, who died in 2004, rescued Lipizzan stallions from advancing Soviet troops during World War II with the help of Gen. George Patton. He brought the aristocratic horses to a ranch in Myakka City in 1963.
They continue to tour and will be returning to New England in May for a run through September, Gabriella Herrmann said.
For the last 35 years, it's been an all stallion show, but this year Herrmann plans to include two mares in the show.
"They will show that they can per
form like the stallions," she said.
Herrmann is planning a benefit for the historic 1914 Myakka City School House in March.
It's a cause near to Herrmann's heart. She attended school there as a young girl.
Bernice Beasley, who has long volunteered with the Myakka City Historical Society and its efforts to save the wooden school house, said she always looks forward to the benefit.
"I just love them," Beasley said of the Lipizzans. "They are just gorgeous."
Herrmann's Royal Lipizzan Ranch has survived tough economic challenges to keep the show going, and now asks that anyone who comes to winter training show to make a $5 donation when the hat is passed. But she will accept whatever spectators can offer.
Some have even helped out with donations of bales of hay or bags of feed.
"The horses are like my kids. As long as I can maintain them, I am a happy person," she said.
For more information, visit www.hlipizzans.com or http://www.facebook.com/HerrmannsRoyalLipizzanStallions?fref=ts
James A. Jones Jr., East Manatee editor, can be contacted at 941-745-7021 or tweet @jajones1