Performances of Vienna’s famous Lipizzan horses for most of its 440 year history were limited to guests of the Imperial Court.
Today, we felt a little noble as we entered the so-called Winter Riding School, adjacent to the Hofburg Palace here in Vienna. Hofburg was the winter home of the Hapsburgs, as opposed to the summer one we visited later today. Today it is the home and office of Austria’s President.
The riding school, with its nearby horse stalls on a major street, puts on daily shows with the stallions.
Lipizzan horses turn the beautiful white color they are known for at age 6 or so. In an initial performance, riders are shown with younger horses that had various other color tones, and these are horses in early training. The performance moves along with more mature horses that show near perfect movements.
It is known as the Spanish Riding School because this breed can be traced to Spain.
The beautiful horses, in very simple, but refined moves, do such things as step to classical music and in synch with each other. In the 1500’s, good horsemanship was key to military advantage, so horses were trained as well as men.
Today, we saw two female riders, but until 2008, nearly 435 years after its founding, there had not been a woman rider in the school.
An appreciative sell-out audience today applauded many of the moves and even gave a rousing cheer to the “pooper scooper” who cleaned up between segments.