The Spanish Riding School has a strong military background. Written above an arch at the riding school they have the following words;
" This Imperial Riding School of Vienna was Constructed in the Year 1735 to be Used for the Instruction of Training of the Youth of the Nobility and for the Schooling of Horses in Riding for Art and War"
Both sides of the "art" and "war" definitely came across in the show. They were strongly based on military influences and showed short films about their background. The art side of the riding also came across in all the movements they did and when they worked in pairs or as a group to create synchronised movements.
The Order of Performance
At the start there was a performance by Lee Peason and Carl Hester. These was also amazing as you would expect from some of the top riders from our country.
- Entrance and Introduction of the Riders.
- Steps and Movements of the High School, Part 1.
- Pas de Deux; Two horses and riders rode in symmetry in this section, each riding a mirror image of the other.
- Work in Hand; This showed some of the jumps the perform such as the Levade, Courbete and Kapriole (more information on these below).
- On the Long Rein.
- Steps and Movements of the High School, Part II.
- Schools above the ground; One of the highlights of the performance, horses raise themselves above the ground either with their forelegs or both with their forelegs and hindquarters.
- School Quadrille; During this section there is a minimum of 8 horses.
- Farewell Salute (image below).
The Levade is when the full weight of the horse is held on the hindquarters and holds the position for a couple of seconds. It looks like a controlled rear.
The Courbette is when the horse raises himself and shifts his weight onto his hindquarters then jumps forward.
The Capriole is when the horse jumps with all four legs simultaneously and kicks out his hindlegs at the moment his body is level.
They have 72 stallions at the Spanish Riding School. They are often given sugar lumps as a reward during training! It is said they all have two basic rights. One is to retire back to the stud where they were born and the second is to have a six week summer holiday every year. The horses must have good conformation and be willing to learn. They are selected at the age of 3 years. A groom may look after the same horse for 30 years.
80% of the riders that start training drop out due to the hard and long training schedule. They spend their first year on the lunge with no reins or stirrups before they are allowed to ride on their own. It can take around 12 years before they are a fully qualified rider. This shows the amount of skill these riders have.
If you get the chance I would definitely recommend going to watch these horses. They are beautiful and so well trained.
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