The life of the Lipizzaner stallions of the Spanish Riding School can very well be compared to that of a top athlete. The riders work with the horses gently and individually to build up their muscles and to prepare them for their performances. Between the age of twelve and twenty-five the stallions show performances of the High School of classical horsemanship in Vienna as well as on worldwide tours.
To ensure optimal health conditions for the horses during and after these years, a special "handbook on animal health" has been developed for each of the three locations (the Riding School in Vienna, the Training Centre in Heldenberg and the stud in Piber). With the mobile roofing of the Summer Riding Arena in Vienna another recommendation of these guidelines has been implemented: As of now, it is possible to train the horses in the fresh air as well as warming them up and cooling them down before and after a performance in all weathers.
"Additional to the individual care provided by the riders and grooms, the horses need a steady workflow, get specially developed diet plans, sufficient periods of exercise and rest as well as many other important measures that are conducive to the well-being and health of our Lipizzaner stallions," explains general manager Elisabeth Gürtler. "The welfare of the horses is always our key concern – without the Lipizzaners there would be no Spanish Riding School."
Not only the regulations of the Austrian animal protection act state that the School stallions of the Spanish Riding School have to be warmed up before a performance and cooled down afterwards. With the new roofing, the Spanish Riding School has also implemented a recommendation of the municipal department 60.
"As the veterinary surgeon of the Spanish Riding School I routinely examine and treat the stallions twice a week in Vienna and once a week at the Training Centre Heldenberg. I am very pleased that the riders in Vienna can now do sufficient warm up exercises in all weathers. This is a huge advantage for the health maintenance, but also for the well-being of the animals. Finally, this longstanding wish on behalf of the horses has been fulfilled, much to the joy of everyone involved," says Georg Hladik.
At the end of the year 2010, an individual handbook on animal health has been issued for each of the three locations – Vienna, Piber and Heldenberg. This guide includes all prophylactic measures to ensure the health maintenance of the horses, but also a catalogue for the handling of diseased animals. "This handbook represents the obligatory basis to provide optimal conditions for animal health at all three locations of the Spanish Riding School. This way, we can ensure that any health problems that may arise will be treated timely and correctly," explains Hladik.
An ongoing further development of this guide is planned, which will be especially influenced by scientific projects which are going to be concluded with the University of Veterinary Medicine Vienna. In 2012 the established standards have been additionally examined and developed further in cooperation with experts of the Veterinary Universities of Hannover – including Prof. Dr. Dr. Jörg Hartung – and Avenches. "Two years ago we also made a recommendation concerning the warm up and cool down phases of the horses to make sure that the famous white stallions keep well and fit. I am very pleased that this has been successfully implemented in such a short time," states Prof. Dr. Dr. Hartung.
The roof is powered by two electric motors and can be closed within a few minutes if required, that is, in case of bad weather or if it snows in winter. For the rest of the time the roof will continue to stay open.
The total investment for the mobile roof construction, which would not have been possible without the generous financial support of investor Mandy Gray, amounts to EUR 300,000.