Passionate About Riding

Posted on November 27th, 2009 in Travel by

Passionate About Rid

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The Spanish Riding School or the Spanische Hofreitschule, which literally means – Imperial Court Spanish Riding School of Vienna, Austria, is a traditional riding school for Lipizzan horses. It was established during the Austro-Hungarian Empire in 1572. It was named for the Spanish horses that were, and still are, the mainstay of the riding school. Today the horses are bred in a court stud in Lipica, near Trieste in nowadays Slovenia, and at the Piber Stud in western Styria, Austria.

The methods used by the Riding School, like those of the Cadre Noir, are based on the teachings of the French riding master François Robichon de la Guérinière. The standards are just as strict at the School as they were years ago. The young stallions are taught the basics first, then, as they strengthen, begin collected movements. They are then assessed to determine if they are suitable for the demanding ‘airs above the ground.’ The riders, too, are carefully schooled, working first without stirrups and reins on well-trained horses to teach a balanced and independent seat. Performances at the Spanish Riding School include individual and pas de deux – two horses at once 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. All riders wear the traditional brown frock coat uniform with bicorne hats, and all horses wear red and gold saddle cloths.

It is regarded as the top of the classical art of riding, with skills and traditions dating back to Ancient Greece. The Spanish Riding School in Vienna is the only institution in the world where the classic equestrian skills (haute école) has been preserved and is still practiced in its original form. Many years of training fuse horse and rider into an inseparable unit. The audience is treated to an unforgettable experience by the precision of movement of the Lipizzan horses in perfect harmony with the music.

In the course of gala performances, visitors experience unique presentations of the Lipizzans in the most beautiful riding hall in the world, which was impressively outfitted by baroque architect Joseph Emanuel Fischer von Erlach between 1729 and 1735. It was originally built to provide aristocratic youths with the opportunity to take riding instruction. Morning training with music gives a good impression into the training program of the White Stallions; the guided tours include visits to the stables.

A new program provides one with exclusive background information about the traditional training and education of the world famous white horses of the Spanish Riding School. For the first time in the history of the High School of Riding, one of the chief riders will explain personally how the horses are classically trained. One after the other one will encounter the steps horse and riders have to take in the course of their education, and how this life-long bond is formed and cultivated.

The visitors are enthralled by the world of the noble stallions and their riders. Man and horse have to brave years of intensive training to master the High School in absolute harmony and perfection. It is a pleasure to share in the stages that make an élève into a rider and a young horse into a school stallion of the Spanish Riding School.

Passionate About Riding / Anil Gupta

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