(This excerpt from “Dressage for No Country” by Paul Belasik–available April 15, 2019–has been made available by its publisher, Trafalgar Square Books. The excerpt describes Belasik’s visit to the Spanish Riding School in the 1990’s.)
I would not be late, so I planned to arrive in Vienna early the day before I was to meet with Kottas. The plane connections all went smoothly. Kottas had arranged for a room, as he said, in a pension near the Spanish Riding School, nestled in the heart of the historic city, and after I settled in, I went out to wander. Vienna was beautiful in the fall, already cold enough to warrant a coat. The city looked palatial. I walked over to the school so I would know where to go the next day. It was headed toward evening, and the city glowed in a warm yellow light; the majestic buildings, the shops with perfect pastries, the whole place felt like classical music. It was imposing but somehow not martial. That night I had a hard time sleeping. I thought I was coming down with something: I had cold sweats and chills like a fever. I called my wife, and she calmed me down. By morning I was fine—it was all nerves.
(Poem @ Ronald Duncan Estate. Painting “The Horse Fair” by Rosa Bonheur 1883-1885)
Where in this wide world can
man find nobility without pride,
friendship without envy or beauty
without vanity? Here, where
grace is laced with muscle, and
strength by gentleness confined.
(© 1852 Gleason’s Pictorial Drawing Room Companion. Wood engraving image caption: “Interior View of Disbrow & Cos Riding School, 415 Washington Street, Boston”; Image credit is due Mark Renger at Sewickley Gallery at www.sewickleygallery.com, for the beautiful hand-colored version of this originally black/white publication.)
“Herewith we present a correct representation of the new, large, central and commodious Riding School of D. R. Disbrow & Co, one of the most ably conducted and popular equestrian academies in the United States, and excelled by none, either in reputation, elegant accommodations, or the skill and system by which the art of horsemanship is taught.” View Post
(© Kip Mistral 2017. First published in the United States Lipizzan Federation quarterly NEWS publication for Winter 2018. Feature image is Painting #26: Gallop leading with near fore, from “The Classical Riding Master”. Subsequent illustration credits inline.)
The great horsemen of the European baroque and romantic eras were undeniably aristocrats. After all, making a great horseman and a great horse—in those days—was expected to take a lifetime in the first case, and many years in the second case. Only aristocrats and nobility had the time and the money to acquire fine horses and undertake the deep study that in these times made becoming a graceful, elegant rider an important character-building experience. The German-born Friedrich Wilhelm Baron Reis von Eisenberg (1685-1764)1 was such a lucky one.
In your Horsemanship… Are you an Artist or Artisan? (Thanks to Merriam-Webster Dictionary for the definitions.)
1) Artist: a: one who professes and practices an imaginative art, b: a person skilled in one of the fine arts, c: a skilled performer
2) Artisan: a worker who practices a trade or handicraft
All comments and discussion welcome!