The Spanish Riding School of Vienna is one of the few remaining riding academies in the world where classical horsemanship is still practised in its purest form.
The Spanish Riding School of Vienna is one of the few remaining riding academies in the world where classical horsemanship is still practised in its purest form. The result of the academy's work is something more akin to art than sport, and on Tuesday (11 OCTOBER) in England equestrians and horse lovers had the chance to see it for themselves.
SYNOPSIS: Twenty of the school's Lipizzaner stallions and their riders had travelled over to England to performs, and they are seen here rehearsing at the Wembley Empire Pool in London, where their shows were held. This movement, the School Quadrille, demands great concentration from both horses and riders, although they make the "ballet" look playfully easy.
The Spanish Riding School of Vienna was established in the 16th century, and derives its name from the fact that only horses of-Spanish origin-the Lipizzaner stallions-have been trained at the school. They are chosen for their strength, intelligence, and their good looks, and early in life go through a three-year training programme at the school's headquarters in Vienna.
To begin with there were blacks, browns, duns, piebalds and skewbalds among the Lipizzaners, but for the sake of uniformity white horses were always crossed with each other, so that today the white horse is associated with the name. The magnificent white stallions have distinguished ancestry. The Iberian horse, which was favoured by the Romans for chariot races and processions was a predecessor, and the finest Arabian horses were later cross-bred to produce the Lipizzaner.
The Spanish Riding School last performed in England eight years ago, and its director, Colonel Karl Albrecht, said he welcomed the chance of returning to a country which had what he called "a great equestrian tradition". And it's probable that any audience would appreciate such skills as this. In a capriole the horse executed steps and movements of the classical "haute ecole". He is controlled merely by the long reins and light switch. A test for an exceptionally well-trained horse, and for his trainer-but one which both accomplish with apparent ease.