Thursday, April 19, 2007

The Spanish Riding School

The Spanish Riding School (Spanische Hofreitschule) of Vienna, Austria, is a traditional riding school for Lipizzan horses, established during the Austrian Empire in 1572. It was named for the Spanish horses that were, and still are, the mainstay of the riding school. The training methods used by the Riding School, are based on the teachings of the French riding master François Robichon de la Guérinière, and the standards are just as strict today as they were years ago. At the age of 4 years, select young stallions come to the Riding School from the Lipizzaner stud Piber, and train for approximately six years before reaching the level of a so-called school stallion.

The riders, too, are carefully schooled, working first without stirrups and reins on well-trained horses to teach a balanced and independent seat. Visitors will notice that all riders are male, as traditions at the School still prohibit females from becoming students.

Performances at the Spanish Riding School include individual and pas de deux (two horses in step together) displays, as well as a Grand Quadrille consisting of 16 horses working in formation at the walk, trot, and canter, including flying changes, piaffe, and passage work. Because the performances are only on select days, and tickets can be hard to come by, morning workouts are available for viewing on other days. These morning exercise sessions offer the chance to watch daily training, ranging from simple relaxing exercises to exercises aimed at refining a certain lesson.
The Winter Riding School, a gem of baroque architecture, was build in the years 1729 to 1735 under Emperor Karl VI by Joseph Emanuel Fischer von Erlach, and it is considered to be the worlds most beautiful indoor riding hall. The School is located in a number of buildings on the Michaelerplatz and the Josefsplatz in central Vienna.
Sara Anrrich

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