Spanish Riding School

Whilst the famous white Lipizzaner stallions enjoy their summer break, the broodmares and their young foals will come to Vienna bringing with them their light-hearted high spirits. 


Managing Director Elisabeth Gürtler: “This summer programme offers the unique opportunity of gaining an impression of the Federal Stud Piber and our valuable mares and their foals. Of course we sincerely hope that not only the Viennese but also guests from abroad will be inspired by our horses.” 

The Spanish Riding School is one of Vienna’s most popular tourist attractions. But in addition to this the School is a prime example of how a “classic” sight which is the embodiment of tradition can present itself as a contemporary attraction. The School’s branding tries to meet all the requirements of up-to-date marketing: appealing to the audience’s emotions and presenting one of the finest examples of storytelling – as demonstrated with the “green nursery” located in the Vienna Burggarten this year (from July 23rd to 28th and July 30th to August 3rd, in nice weather only). An attraction which makes up for the stallions’ absence and which is moreover free of charge, is a delight for Vienna’s guests and certainly also for the Viennese themselves.

Five presentations well worth seeing

In addition to the foals and their dams there are a further four highlights to be seen: the programme starts off with a Pas de Deux carried out by two historical carriages: the first one – a so-called “Spider Phaeton” – is drawn by a horse in single harness, while the second carriage – a “Vis-à-Vis” – is drawn by a pair. The difficulty lies in the exact execution of the driving figures in perfect harmony. The drivers’ uniforms date back to the 18th century to the times of Prince Eugene of Savoyen.

In the second showcase a delegation of eight 4-year-old performance-tested mares from Piber (all born in 2009) is allowed to romp around in the venerable Winter Riding School. On the base of certain criteria like their bloodline, exterieur and character they were chosen from a herd of 20 same-aged mares to ensure the future Lipizzaner breed in Piber.

When the mares’ performance test – which includes both, horseback or carriage riding – starts, the horses are first slowly getting accustomed to their new surroundings. They are introduced to bridles, long line and harness so that they gain confidence in their new tasks. The physical training on the long line and later in the harness is supposed to directly improve their fitness.

As soon as the “young ladies” have been collected up again, the world’s most beautiful riding hall once again becomes the backdrop for the carriage drivers from Piber. The rare and challenging tandem is presented, where the horses are harnessed behind rather than next to each other. This type of harnessing was and is still used for hunts, as the rear horse bears the brunt of the burden and the front horse which is relatively rested can subsequently be saddled for the hunt. A tandem is far more difficult to handle than a four-in-hand where four horses are harnessed in front of the carriage.

With no predefined choreography but all the more spontaneous and delightful is the following appearance of the foals and their mothers. These youngest Lipizzaners are left to explore their new surroundings together with their more experienced mothers. 

The programmes culmination is the so-called Imperial Quadrille: a historical vis-à-vis carriage dating back to Emperor Franz Josef’s court drawn by a four-in-hand and escorted by two riders wearing traditional uniforms from Piber. A four-in-hand is the seen as the premier class of driving and distinguishes every driver as a skilful master of his trade. 

This special summer programme is presented in both German and English.