Founded in 1565, the Spanish Riding School of Vienna is the oldest institution of its kind in the world. In 1729, at the request of Charles VI, the construction of the breathtaking Winter Riding School was carried out. Flyinghorse had the unique chance to have a glimpse at the training session held in this one of a kind equestrian temple. Here the traditional lifting of the bicorn hats by the riders in front of the portrait of Charles VI on entering the Winter Riding School goes back to times of kings and queens. A true fairytale.
There are indeed several opportunities to have an encounter with the white Lippizan Stallions of the Spanish Riding School.
The morning exercise with the stallions starts early at seven o’clock. Until ten o’clock the riders work undisturbed and focused on their horses in the definition of the classical training. They teach the students and assistant riders, support one another in preparing the school stallions to become athletes.
The public morning work starts at ten o’clock. From Tuesday to Friday, and on few Saturdays of the month, thousands of people visit the training of the stallions in the Winter Riding School on a daily basis. They watch the world-famous white stallions going through their gymnastics, how lessons are learnt and refined. They experience training and hand work, sometimes lessons about the earth.
But also the young stallions, normally easily recognizable by their grey colors, need to be trained in front of an audience. In the Spanish Riding School it has always been done this way, as pre- scribed by the textbook following the classic principles of riding, individually worked out for each particular horse.
In an exhilarating guided tour through the Spanish Riding School, visitors are taken through the unique baroque Winter Riding School, the Summer Riding School with its world-wide largest oval shaped horse walker and, of course, to the stables of the Lipizzan stallions who, for the last 450 years, were housed in the Stallburg, Vienna’s most important Renaissance building. A one of a kind experience with different stations that constitute the special charm of the historic institution.
The world-famous show performed by the Lipizzan horses – the ballet of the white stallions – takes place in the unique, baroque Winter Riding School in the Hofburg. This show is the culmination of many years of training and intensive work by the riders and their Lipizzan horses. The boisterous young stallions enchant the audience, as well as the already fully trained school stallions, that perform in the school quadrille, in the schools on and above the ground, in the Pas de Deux and on the long rein.
Lipizzan horses are intelligent and lively and particularly suitable for the equestrian art of the high school because of their physiology and their gracefulness. The Lipizzan horses are Europe’s oldest domesticated, pure-bred horses. The performance and safe-guarding of the High School of classic equestrian art are regarded as the core task of the Spanish Riding School, and is included in the international intangible cultural heritage of UNESCO.
Unfortunately we did not have the chance to see neither the show or do the tour, but for sure our next trip to Vienna will see the event on our bullet list.