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Spanish Riding School


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The Hofburg district located in the center of Vienna was once a fort of the town, but in the rows of the centuries it grew permanently, resulting in a large palace. Beside the museums, the church and chapels the building complex of the once imperial palace in the district comprises such sights like for example the Austrian National Library and the Stallburg, which means Stable and the Winter Equestrian School in which the legendary Lippizan horses show their extraordinary knowledge. .

In front of the Winter Equestrian School one finds the once Stallburg Palace which was built originally for Maximilian royal prince and was re-built to stable of the Hofburg later. The stables around the three-levels high, with a renaissance colonnade ornamented court can be visited as a part of Lipizzaner Museum. (Further curiosities are in the museum for example the pieces of the imperial art collections, the exhibition showing the history of the Lipizzan horses and the paintings depicting the Spanish Riding School. .

The building of Winter Equestrian School in its present form has been built by emperor Leopold I who was told to be a famous rider. Due to its extra size, the manége of the school looks like not just a building but a huge space limited by closed forms. The solemn hall with 46 columns on its two sides is ornamented by stucco ornaments, boarded ceiling and chandeliers. The boksz of the main seat was reserved for the imperial court. The audience took seat on the galleries. .

The oldest equestrian institute of the world has been existing since the 16th century. The sort of horses trained on the hard carst ground and extreme weather of Opinica plateau was used even by the Romans, later it became the "star" of knights' tournaments. The breading of the species is attached to the name of Charles Hapsburg, who founded a breading plant in Lipizza, which belonged to the empire, for the Spanish Riding School grounded in Vienna in 1572. The native animals were imported from Spain (this is why it's named Spanish Riding School), and were crossed then with eight famous blood lines. After the fall of the Monarchy the horses were taken to Laxemburg in the proximity of Vienna, later to Piber in Steiermark, where surviving the horrors of Napoleon wars they serve the fame of this marvellous school. .

These horses are born with grayish brown color, they become snow white only after their age of four years. They are taken into the capital in snow white color, where a training of 4 years follows. They learn basic knowledge (trot, pace, pirouette) and having these learned the next lesson is the fantastic balancing on their two hind legs. Besides the forms of moving, the horses are taught for a long time to sculpture-like stopping and motionlessness. .

Lippizan stallions breaded specially show the paces complying with the elements of ballet and the strict rules of the "high school". The stunts go back to the renaissance ages when well trained horses and riding techniques were required to the manoeuvres of riding warfare. On the equestrian ceremony several famous figures are shown, some of the most famous ones:
  • "Courbette" - bowing
  • "Levade" - the horse rears up on his hind legs while his ham-bones almost touch the ground
  • "Croupade" - the horse jumps up to the air, pulling his fore and hind legs under his belly.
  • "Capriole" - The horse jumps up to the air, at the same time kicks backwards with hs hind legs.
  • "Piaffe" - stamping, the horse moves his legs without advancing, often between two columns. .

    Sound of trombones can be heard, the riders march in, their clothing looks like the original ancient ones: black hats with two corners, ornamented by sewn golden bullions, in coffee-colored, slimmed, two-row, with brass buttons adjusted jackets, in light colored leather gloves, in white deer leather riding trousers, in boots exceeding the height of the knee. The historical uniform of the riders are complemented with smart saddles covered with embroidered blankets, and brides, the saddles being different than those in our days.


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