My previous post was a book review on The Memorist by MJ Rose, with a Vienna connection.
"Merisi's Vienna for Beginners" honoured me with a dedicated post on the courtyard of the royal stables at the Hofburg Palace where the Spanish Riding School is located (a click on the title of this post will take you there).
I first visited Vienna in 1970 and was fortunate enough to be able to tour the facilities at the Spanish Riding School before the stallions were taken to their summer residence.
The Spanish Riding School in Vienna was founded in 1572, where classical dressage is practiced in its purest form. The original horses were of Spanish origin. The Winter Riding School in the Vienna Hofburg (Imperial Palace) is the location where the riders of the Spanish Riding School train the horses and where they perform. A portrait of Emperor Charles VI hangs above the royal box, which the riders salute when entering the arena.
The video below is an appealing advertisement for Vienna.
The “haute ecole” movements and those leading up to these exercises are those used in training and strengthening the military horse for battle. War horses through the ages were taught to attack. The work-in-hand with the short reins and long reins is for obedience and producing suppleness.
There are five strains in the bloodlines of the Lippizan horses, if my memory serves me correctly after forty years: Pluto, Conversano, Maestoso, Neapolitano and Favory. The Favory line is slightly smaller and more refined than the previous four due to its Arabian influence. The Lippizans are known as the White Lippizans, although they are foaled black or dark brown and through the years turn to a dapple gray and then to white. Due to tradition of the Spanish Riding School there is always one bay stallion trained to be presented with the other stallions (in the following video).
My intention for this post was to provide a brief overview. There is a fascinating history surrounding these wonderful horses, not the least of which is General George Patton in May 1945 assisting Colonel Podhasky in removing the stallions from Vienna and mares and foals to other locations to save them from the advancing Russian army.
The above is an excerpt from a 1945 film with General Patton being given a riding demonstration by the officers of the Spanish Riding School.