MYAKKA CITY -- For half a century, Lipizzan stallions have been born, bred and trained in Myakka City.
The tradition began in 1964, when Col. Ottomar Herrmann moved his family and the exquisite white horses to East Manatee.
The Herrmanns brought fresh memories of World War II in their native Austria with them, including the famous escape, under the protection of horse-lover U.S. Army Gen. George Patton, from the advancing Soviet army.
Patton died of injuries suffered in an auto crash in Germany on Dec. 21, 1945, seven months after the defeat of the Nazis. Col. Herrmann died in 2004.
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Neither have been forgotten.
A large photograph of Patton hangs in the stable of Herrmann's Royal Lipizzan Stallions, 32755 Singletary Road. And there is a loving tribute to Col. Herrmann on the ranch's webpage.
Gabriella Herrmann carries on the operation of the ranch, and the touring tradition. Each year, she takes the show on the road to allow the public to see the horses make their spectacular leaps and plunges.
Another tradition continues as well: opening the ranch to the public to see the winter training sessions, which begin Thursday, Dec. 18, and continue through April 2015.
The sessions last about one hour and 10 minutes and start at 3 p.m. on Thursdays and Fridays, and at 10 a.m. Saturdays.
Col. Herrmann brought his family to Myakka City because there was plenty of land, and the location was close to Sarasota, a traditional home for circus and other show people, Gabby Herrmann said.
"Back then, Singletary Road was a bumpity-bump-bump washboard road," Herrmann said.
The Lipizzans and their riders returned to Myakka City from their most recent tour in September.
"The horses have been hanging out, just being horses. Like people, they need a vacation," she said.
With winter training about to start, the public will be able to get a closeup look at the stallions, walk through the grounds of the ranch, and through the stable. There is no charge, but donations are welcome.
Lillian D'Agostino, a resident of Long Island who winters at Sanibel Island, was at the ranch recently, taking riding lessons.
"I want to be taught as if I were a rider in the show," D'Agostino said.
"I love these beautiful horses. They are the best -- the top of the line," she said. "It becomes a friendship with the horses and with Gabby."
For more information about Herrmann's Royal Lipizzan Stallions, visit www.hlipizzans.com.
James A. Jones Jr., East Manatee reporter, can be contacted at 941-745-7053 or on Twitter @jajones1.