I’M VERY honoured to be one of few media to be invited by The Spanish Riding School in Vienna when they were in London last weekend. The SRS makes an amazing job in preserving the art of riding and is the only institution in the world which has practiced for nearly 450 years – and continues to cultivate classical equitation in the tradition of the haute école, the higher movements in dressage.
The objective of classical equitation is to study the way the horse naturally moves and to cultivate the highest levels of haute école elegance the horse is capable of, through systematic training. The result creates an unparalleled harmony between rider and horse – and they definitely showed it to us at the Wembley Arena.
The Equestrian got access to the highly protected barn area after the show, to meet the Spanish Riding School’s master rider Herwig – a rider with not only 38 years of experience at SRS, but also with one amazing charisma and seven dancing stallions:
Herwig, thank you for an amazing show! How did you find it to ride here in London? How is it to be out on tour compared to being home in Vienna:
– At home everything is well known. My horses knows every angle, every centimeter of the arena. When on tour, there’re not so much difference for us riders but the horse experiences the noise different on every new arena. And for the first show on a new location you never know what to expect – how your horse will react to it.
Here in London, or when out on tour we also ride a different routine compared to the one at home. And when we travel we need to work harder to keep our horse in balance. There’s a balance to find between keeping my horse in shape – and keeping his mind enthusiastic. We are in London 3 days, last week in Birmingham, next week in Amsterdam, and if I don’t keep my horses in balance – if my levade horse for instance don’t want to do levade I can’t do more then standing there with a silly smile.
Because as a rider I fine tune and direct my horse, but I can’t lift him up in the levade. He has to be happy and exited to do it himself.
Oubviously you’re doing an amazing job. How come you chose to be a SRS rider, rather then a dressage competitor?
– When I was very young I just liked to ride outside, do some cross country and jumping. I, as many kids, liked the fast pace. But when I was 13 years old I saw the SRS and their higher movements. Then I was sure THAT’s what I wanted to do. At 14 I wrote my letter to SRS – and got in. I was lucky enough to have parents that supported my choice (after a minor chock). It definitely helps through all the years of training to have support from someone. I started at the riding school in Vienna when I was 15 years old and have been there since. That’s 38 years now, and I still love my job!
Which is absolutely amazing, so finally: what’s the magic about horses to You?
– Their honesty. A horse is a very, very honest animal. A horse is a reflection of you – what you train is what you get. So training a horse is like a having a mirror in front of your face saying what ever the result is – you made it happen. There’s no fake.
Photo by Luca Mazzarini.