[“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.
I’ve been following German classical specialist Richard Hinrichs since his beautiful DVD and its companion book “Schooling Horses In-Hand” were published in English in 2001 by Trafalgar Square Books here in the U.S. [The DVD is on the list of Recommended Reading on Longeing for the Fourth Level on the USDF website, to this day.] If you have not heard of Richard Hinrichs, he is literally the product of a lineage of hundreds of years of European classical teaching. But twenty years ago, in all my years of study of horses and riding, I not yet seen anything like these classical training principles.
(© Kip Mistral 2020. Painting by Alexander Pock 1940, Spanish Riding School Levade.)
When as a child I first read Marguerite Henry’s wonderful book about the Spanish Riding School in Vienna, titled “The White Stallion of Lipizza,” equally wonderfully illustrated by her creative partner Wesley Dennis, I was fascinated with the idea of a supremely orderly program of learning and teaching a venerable and highly cultivated horsemanship.
This was no haphazard affair like the way my friends and I learned to ride…we were told to get on, kick to go, pull back on the reins to stop and neck rein. Then off we tore with our kind-hearted and forbearing mounts, all asses and elbows for too long as we learned the hard way.