10 Interesting Facts about the Spanish Riding School

Spanish Riding School

The exterior of the Riding School,adjacent to the Hofburg Palace. This is the “Winter” school.

If you are visiting Vienna whether it is on an independent holiday, a guided tour or a river cruise, you might wish to take in a performance of the Spanish Riding School, world famous for its Lipizzaner horses and dressage. You do not have to be a lover of horses to appreciate the skill and training of these beautiful white stallions and their riders. Here are some facts that may enhance your visit:
• The Spanish Riding School is the oldest in the world having been established in 1572.
• The form of dressage it teaches is classic but to the highest level of elegance achievable.


Horses are often ridden double bridle and sometimes without stirrups. This horse and rider are not from this school.

• Its schooling methods were originally meant to strengthen battle horses.

• The current baroque hall or Winter Riding School as it is called was commissioned in 1729.
• The school was not open to public performances until after WWI. Prior to that, performances were private, and by invitation of the royal court only.
• In summer months of July and August, the horses are stabled in Heldenberg-Wetzdorf, and just like in North American schools, there is no “school” – it’s summer holidays.

Lipizan out to pasture.

A Lipizan in the pasture.

• The breed used exclusively by the school is the Lipizan breed which is all white.
• The majority, if not all, of the riders you see may be male as women have not been accepted to study at the school until fairly recently in its history.
• The most widely known movement is the “Airs Above the Ground” but there are other drills as well including “Young Stallions” ( self explanatory), “Work In Hand”, “On the Long Rein” and more, where both riders and horses display their superb training and discipline.

Interior of Winter school.

Interior showing its beautiful baroque styling.

• The performance always concludes with the “School Quadrille”. This is a twenty minute performance of the most difficult maneuvers in the world of dressage.

As you may have noticed, if you are visiting Vienna in July or the early part of August you will not be able to take in a performance as the school is closed. The price of tickets, based on the location of your seat or if you have chosen to stand, range from an average of 30 euros to well over a hundred- twenty eros. It is worth checking with your travel professional as some luxury river cruise lines, such as Scenic® on their Danube Delta Discovery itinerary, have a visit to the school as an included excursion.

Viennese horse and carriage

Not all white horses in Vienna are in the school!



Article written by D. MacIntyre, compassmedia.us. Images courtesy of pixabay.com and bigstock.com