Donation of Conversano Beja – May 19, 1964

On May 19, 1964, the Austrian government donated one of their prized Lipizzaner stallions to the Caisson Platoon. Conversano Beja was donated during an event held at Madison Square Garden, as a thank you to the U.S. Army. Near the end of World War II, General Patton placed the horses and the Spanish Riding School under his protection. The Conversano bloodline can be traced back to 1767. The Pentagram News article, transcribed below, gives details about the donation and ceremony. See photos of the ceremony here:

Old Guard Gets Lipizzaner Stallion
Pentagram News – May 21, 1964

One of the astonishing Lipizzaner horses from Vienna’s Spanish School of Riding is going to the caisson section of the Army’s Old Guard.

“Conversano [B]eja” a white stallion of the globe-traveling troupe, was to be given to the Army Tuesday during a performance of the Austrian horses in New York’s Madison Square Garden.

The Austrian government is present the horse to the U.S. Army in appreciation for the protection afforded the world famous riding school at the close of World War II.

Early in 1945, Col. Aloris Podhajsky, still director of the riding school, moved the horses to the upper Austrian village of St. Martin to protect them from bombing in Vienna.

Shortly afterwards, Gen. George S. Patton, himself, like Col. Podhajsky, a former Olympic horseman, made the horses wards of the U.S. Army until they could be returned to a new Austria.

The stallion probably will arrive at Ft. Myer sometime this week and will be used in full honor funerals in Arlington National Cemetery. It will be stabled at the caisson section.

Capt. Homer G. Gay, 3d Infantry ceremonies officer, said tentative plans call for the animal to be used in funerals as the mount for the chief of the unit’s white-horse section.

As dazzling show horses, the stallions do formation walking, trot sideways and dance and prance to the rhythm of old Viennese melodies. They climax their show with a thrilling horse ballet.

The horses — descendants of Spanish-bred animals trained for 400 years at the Spanish Riding School — arrived in the U.S. March 27 for their first extended American tour. They showed in the Washington area to capacity crowds in April.

Lt. Gen. Robert W. Porter Jr., commanding general of the 1st Army, was scheduled to accept the horse on behalf of the Army Chief of Staff.

The Austrian Secretary of Commerce, Dr. Fritz Boch, and Dr. Wilfried Platzer, the Austrian Ambassador to the United States, were slated to make the presentation at the Lippizzaner’s opening-night performance at the [end of article]