Sunday, 7 December 2008

Vienna Hofburg Imperial Palace

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.


RuneE said...

Thank you for showing us the Spanish Riding School - it's famous here in Europe, but so far I have managed not to see it. I hope to remedy that.

Reader Wil said...

Thanks for sharing this fascinating history of the Lippezaner Horses. And the videos are very beautyful, I enjoyed watching them! Thanks!
BTW You should see how the Arabs treat their cart horses! It's horrible.

Arija said...

What lovely memories that invokes, thank you. The first time we saw them was in 1976 in Vienna. Such magnificent steeds and their trainers.

Tess Kincaid said...

Like I told Merisi, my uncle loves these Lippezaner horses. I must refer him to your blog!

Lovely post.

Barbara Martin said...

RuneE, you won't be disappointed. It is truly a magnificent presentation.

Wil, welcome and thank you for stopping by. The history affiliated with the Lippizan horses is interesting.

Not all countries in the world treat horses in a kind manner, nor do they have animal protection legislation set up.

Barbara Martin said...

Arija, I'm pleased to see these horses invoke the same sense of majesty they do to me.

Barbara Martin said...

Willow, then your uncle receives the benefit of an old saying, "the outside of a horse is good for the inside of a man."

Shammickite said...

Gorgeous creatures! And so precise and elegant. My DIL is involved in Dressage and Jumping, it's her passion!
She has been working with a foal that she adopted 6 years ago, a headstrong filly with her own mind, but they are both learning and the horse is turning out to be an intelligent and friendly girl!

RuneE said...

Me again - thank you on behalf of Truls and Hilde

Merisi said...

Thank you, Barbara,
it was so very kind of you to mention my name!

I hope to bring you better pictures soon. Yesterday I only was able to take the pictures through the window, not being part of a guided tour. I do love walking by that courtyard, though. Those horses always lift my heart!

david mcmahon said...

Merisi is a good friend of mine.

The Spanish Riding School recently (about six weeks ago) paraded its first female rider ever.

Barbara Martin said...

Shammickite, welcome and thank you for visiting.

Dressage improves a rider for the other equestrian disciplines. During my first visit to the Riding School I had inquired about discipline of the horses if they became unruly. The response was simple: the absence of reward is enough correction.

Barbara Martin said...

RuneE, you're welcome. It was the least I could do under their trying times.

Barbara Martin said...

Merisi, you are very welcome.

The photos are exceptional through a window! I loved the horses in their rugs, poking their heads out of the dutch doors to have a look at what was going on.

Barbara Martin said...

David, welcome and thank you for stopping by.

The news you bring is a surprise, though most traditional activities which were men oriented before have now accepted women. I will check out the School's website for more information. Thank you for telling me.

Junosmom said...

There is a wonderful movie, Miracle of the White Stallions (I think) that we saw giving the history of how these animals were saved during WWII. They are fascinating.

Rick said...

This was an exciting visit for me Barbara. I had never so much as heard of these horses. Since my brother was violently allergic to horses, my whole family spent very little time around them. I regret that very much now. These wonderful histories of yours always remind me of how of a wider world there is to experience.

Robin said... "their hoofbeats are the echo to a timeless, untamed freedom".

I read Horse books as soon as chapter books were bought for me (age 6!) and I've loved horses ever since, owned three amazing ones.

But this? This legacy and history is noble and seems to be a collaberation between the men and the "beasts". I didn't see "circus" horses...I saw teams, but maybe it's because I wanted to!

David said they had their first female rider (that's got to be a story) and it begs the question: "are they really all "Lippanezer STALLIONS"? Not fixed, and no women (mares)! If so, what amazing dispositions!

Lovely post Barbasra, thanks so much. I've seen them once in person, but never a "behind the scene's" look. Amazing athletes, trainers...and respect.

David Cranmer said...

I always knew I liked Patton for a reason.

Barbara Martin said...

Junosmom, you are correct with the movie name, made by Walt Disney.

Rick, it is very true there is a much wider world than people are aware of.

Barbara Martin said...

Robin, nice to hear from you again.

Your eyes were not deceiving you, horse and rider are teams. The method of riding the Spanish Riding School uses goes back to the early military method. In fact, the school is a military establishment, or it was. Now they train and breed the Lippizan horses, and put on public perfomances. It is a magnificent method of remembering the past.

The first female rider is not a story. I have placed the Spanish Riding School's weblink on the sidebar under my profile, where if you look under riders it is there. She is a student, and it will take 4 to 6 years of training to perfect herself.

All the horses that perform the movements at the Hofburg Palace are stallions. There are no mares. Stallions work well together providing there are no mares to distract them. The stallions that excel in their training and performance go on to be used at stud to pass those traits on.

The Lippizan horses are well-known for their excellent temperaments.

The horses here are trained in a specific manner where there is a mutual trust between partners. This is a method that should be used worldwide, and not just in Vienna at the Spanish Riding School.

Barbara Martin said...

David C., a wee bit of info on General Patton for you.

General Patton had been a cavalry officer, and had participated in the 1912 Stockholm Olympics in the first ever pentathlon competition open only to military officers, where he placed fifth.

The Walt Disney movie “Miracle of the White Stallions” provides an accounting of the rescue of the Lippizan horses General Patton arranged under code name “Operation Cowboy”.

Patton was an okay guy in my books.

Merisi said...

I was going to come back and mention the movie about General Patton's heroic act to rescue the white stallions, before the Soviet Army marched into Vienna. I watched it as a little girl, and had heard the story about the rescue before, from my parents.

David has beaten me to the story about the first female student the Riding School has taken on, after almost half a millennium of mile riders only. It is a wonderful development.

Mihai A. said...

I've been there and it is absolutely lovely. Vienna is a very beautiful city, although I liked more Salzburg :) And Austria is a marvelous country. I will have to revisit it someday ;)

pattinase (abbott) said...

I was there in Spring 2007. What a lovely city.

Tami Weingartner said...

There is also a brand for the Siglavy line.

Reader Wil said...

It's me again! The recipe for Speculaas can be found here: or you can type inat Google: Recipe Speculaas.