Spanische Hofreitschule( Spanish Riding School )
The Spanish Riding School (German: Spanische Hofreitschule) is an Austrian institution dedicated to the preservation of classical dressage and the training of Lipizzaner horses, based in Vienna, Austria, whose performances in the Hofburg are also a tourist attraction. The leading horses and riders of the school also periodically tour and perform worldwide. It is one of the "Big Four", the most prestigious classical riding academies in the world, alongside the Cadre Noir, the Portuguese School of Equestrian Art, and the Royal Andalusian School.
The riding school was first named during the Habsburg Monarchy in 1572, long before the French manege of Antoine de Pluvinel, and is the oldest of its kind in the world. Records show that a wooden riding arena was first commissioned in 1565, but it wasn't until 1729 that Emperor Charles VI commissioned the architect Joseph Emanuel Fischer von Erlach to build the white riding hall used today. Prior to that time, the school operated from a wooden arena at the Josefsplatz. For a time, the riding hall was used for various ceremonies, but it is now open to the public, who may witness the training and performances by the stallions.
The Spanish Riding School was named for the Spanish horses that formed one of the bases of the Lipizzan breed, which is used exclusively at the school. Today the horses delivered to the Spanish Riding School are bred at the Piber Federal Stud located near the village of Piber in western Styria, Austria. One of the original studs used to develop the breed was Lipizza, now called Lipica, near Trieste in modern Slovenia, which gave its name to the breed.
The Spanish Riding School has antecedents in military traditions dating as far back as Xenophon in Ancient Greece, and particularly from the military horsemanship of the post-medieval ages when knights attempted to retain their battlefield preeminence by shedding heavy armor and learning to maneuver quickly and with great complexity on a firearms-dominated battlefield.
Traditionally, Lipizzaners at the school have been trained and ridden wholly by men, although the Spanish Riding School states that there has never been an official ban on women. In October 2008, two women, Sojourner Morrell, 18-year-old from the United Kingdom and Hannah Zeitlhofer, 21-year-old from Austria, passed the entrance exam and were accepted to train as riders at the school – the first women to do so in 436 years.
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