The Spanish Riding School
One of the must-sees when visiting Vienna is the Spanish Riding School. Located at the Hofburg in the heart of Vienna the Spanish Riding School is the centre of the classical dressage tradition. The Riding School was first named in 1572 during the Habsburg Empire and is with this the oldest in the world. The reason why the Riding School in Vienna is called Spanish Riding School is because of the origins of its horses – the Lippizan horses. This wonderful white horses are born with dark color at Piber Federal Stud in Styria province. Only when they are 4 years old are they brought to Vienna to learn the techniques of the Spanish Riding School. Only stallions are selected to perform at the Spanish Riding School.
All movements learned at the school are based on the horses’ natural movements. The training is comprised of three phases: the “Forward Riding” (the so-called Remotenschule), the Campaign School (so-called Campagnenschule) and the Haute Ecole or High School (so-called Hohe Schule). Just like the horses, riders are carefully selected as well. It takes up to 10 years for a rider to learn the techniques of the Haute Ecole.
Performances of the Vienna Spanish Riding School take place at the Winter Riding School (Winter Reitschule) at Vienna’s Hofburg. It is a major tourist attraction. To obtain one of the highly desired tickets one needs to book well in advance. For those that are not that lucky. The Vienna Spanish Riding School also permits Public Viewing of its training sessions.