Spanish Riding School and world's most famous snow-white stallions
The Spanish Riding School in Vienna is the only institution in the world where the skills of classical horsemanship have been practiced in its original form for more than 450 years. The gorgeous snow-white Lipizzaner stallions perform classical school jumps along the flow of authentic Viennese classical music and do so with utmost precision and elegance.
The stallions are Europe's oldest domesticated breed of horse and are named after an imperial stud, which was located near Trieste (Lipica). Nowadays, they are bred at the Piber Stud Farm in Styria. About 45 Lipizzaner studs are born there each year. Those with most jumping potential are selected for High School training, which starts at the training center in Heldenberg. The best ones continue their training in Vienna and become honorable performers of the Spanish Riding School. They are schooled in the wonderful Winter Riding School of the Hofburg Palace, which was once reserved only for the imperial family. The venue was designed by baroque architect Joseph Emanuel Fischer von Erlach in the 1730's, and it is said to be the most beautiful riding hall in the world. In 2015, the High School of Spanish Riding School was admitted to the UNESCO’s world heritage list of the intangible cultural heritage of humanity.
Training the horses is no piece of cake
Main concern during the first four years of training is the wellbeing of young stallions as well as starting to perfect their natural moves. With the help of specific exercises aimed at strengthening and training the horse's muscles, they evolve their natural moves into flawless figures of the Haute Ecole (High School). Although a horse could be trained to the point of perfection after about six years, riders usually take up to 10-12 years. During many years of training, the horse and its rider form an inseparable bond. It results in the brilliant execution of the moves and jumps that stun the viewers with their precision and elegance.
The stallions' care and nurture is no walk in the park either. Their pure white coats must be kept spotless. Their stables are cleaned on a daily basis to help prevent stains while the horses are lying down. If they do happen get dirty, they are washed by hand the with very mild baby shampoo.
Time to shine!
At the gala performance, the audience is treated with the hardest and most complicated movements such as pirouette, passage, and piaffe. The whole performance is accompanied by traditional Austrian classical music and carefully choreographed to follow its flow. The highlight of the evening, school quadrille, is performed after the "pas de deux" (two horses in mirror image). The quadrille is one of the most difficult and beautiful dances featuring eight Lipizzaner stallions. Precisely choreographed to accompany historic dance music from the time of the Viennese Congress it truly is a treat for the eyes and ears.
Treat yourself with tickets to one of Spanish Riding School performances and be enchanted by its mesmerizing choreography and elegance. Being visually and musically engaging, the shows are suitable for the whole family. Visiting Hofburg and witnessing the snow-white Lipizzaners do what they do best is definitely an experience to cross off your Vienna bucket list.
Make sure not to wait in lines by booking your tickets online!