A Visit to the Spanish Riding School
by Heidi Obermeyer
I didn’t have much of a plan for what I actually wanted to do in Vienna once I got there (probably because most of my half hour of planning time was used up trying to make sure I would be highly likely to find my friends once I got there) but Taryn and Ashlyn had brought along a guide book and knew what they wanted to visit- and the first thing on the list was the Spanish Riding School!
The Spanish Riding School is essentially an über elite dressage school that breeds, trains and performs with its own horses (all incredibly beautiful Lipizzaner stallions). I rode all the time as a kid, so this was a perfect Heidi activity!
We did a combo ticket that let us watch morning warm up (where they work the horses for the 90-euro-a-seat shows that are put on each evening) and get a tour of the stables in the afternoon. Sadly, there’s no pictures allowed during morning warm up, but check out this arena! Wowza!
It was built in the early 1700’s, and the ceiling is so heavy and awkward architecturally that those chandeliers are actually attached to the roof beams, not that ceiling. Also interesting is that this arena is not the same size as normal dressage arenas, so all of their performances are created specifically for this size of a space.
You can’t take pictures of the horses while you’re on tour either, but somebody photobombed this horse-free shot of how nice the stables are:
These horses get treated like kings- they have time off, are only in Vienna training for 3 month stints, and have the same rider their entire lives who trains and rides them. Wowza. The tack room isn’t anything to complain about either! Each horse has a “normal” dressage saddle for everyday wear and a white buckskin leather saddle that gets used for their really intense moves where they jump into the air and stuff. It’s pretty freaking cool.
The tour was actually really well done and fun because it was full of horse people. That means we got quality questions like, “Do you massage the horses regularly?” That one led to a 10 minute discussion about how often they need the vet out. Oh horse lovers! How I’ve missed your oddities!
So that’s the Spanish Riding School. Nothing like a really expensive barn to make you question what you are doing with your life and what you can sell to get one like it. And for now, if you’ve got an extra 7 minutes, you can watch this really old youtube video that shows you one of their performances. Did I mention they’re set to music? Classical music? Classical music that is even played during warmups? Now that’s classy.
Happy Monday everyone!