[“Morning Exercise in the Hofreitschule” by Julius von Blaas, 1890]
In early March of this year 2023, news went around the world that Chief Rider of the Spanish Riding School, Andreas Hausberger, had been relieved of his position after 40 years of service within the school. Persons not familiar with the politics of Vienna and the school itself had a difficult time understanding the issues at hand, let alone why this could have happened to an admired and trusted member of the school, who on top of it all, was the last rider left from the last generation trained under the original classical protocols and methods. Who now would carry the torch for the true, centuries-old traditions?
[Regretfully, photographic copyright for image not available. Please advise.]
In his wisdom, American General George S. Patton, who commanded the Third United States Army in France and Germany after the Allied invasion of Normandy in June 1944, gave permission for the U.S. Army to liberate the 300 head of Lipizzan breeding stock that had been hijacked to Germany by the Nazi Army, to be rescued and driven in herds and also in trucks to Bavaria, to safety.
[copyright Kip Mistral 2023. “Dame de la Brigade des Abeses” by Jean Berain, Illustrator, 1685.]
I spent the pandemic in 18th century France.
For month after month I sift through faded, handwritten registers of births, baptisms, marriages and deaths, and a 2,000 page historical almanac of the time. The purpose is to research the lives of several of the King of France’s royal ecuyers, about whom little is really known. (But that will be changing soon.)
“You should have seen this noble old man with silver hair wearing his classic manège hat, sixty-five years old! This venerable Count of Abzac gave these lessons with a clearness, a precision, an air of court, which filled the spectators with admiration. Mounted on a horse “Isabelle” [in Europe refers to pale palomino of different shades] with white mane and tail, academically seated, he was the type of the rider-gentleman and recalled the engravings of the old squires at the same time as he was the noblest impression of perfection that can be achieved, even at an advanced age in academic riding!”
Comte de Noë, d’Abzac’s former pupil under the Restoration. View Post
[“The Stables Viewed from the Forecourt of the Château de Versailles,” by Jean Baptiste Martin 1688, Grande Ecurie on the left of the two stables]
‘One must agree that if the true principles of the art had not been maintained, with a certain austerity in the royal riding school in Versailles, if they had not been constantly practiced, someday one might be hard pressed to find a way to renew the principles.’ ~ Charles Prosper Claude Chevalier le Vaillant de Saint Denis (1753-1790) Ecuyer du Roi
Wandering through this lovely, pale gold city, up the broad tree-lined Avenue de Paris toward the Château de Versailles, would seduce all but the most hardened traveler to dream of times long past. As the Château’s magnificent edifice comes into view and its buildings seem to go on and on, one can’t help but remember that, designed and created as it was by the finest thinkers and artists of their time to perpetuate knowledge and beauty, the highest cultural values embodied in European civilization at the time were showcased at the Château de Versailles.
In the same way the Manège du Grande Ecurie du Château de Versailles (the Riding School of the Great Stable) came to influence the fine equitation of its age. The stately Grande Ecurie, built with soaring, harmonious proportion and exquisite ornamentation, was constructed in 1683 by Louis XIV to celebrate his passion for elaborate equestrian performances, and to stable the most superb horses in the world.