The Spanish Riding School – What Plans For The Future?
Dear Friends and Members of CRC,
There is growing concern over the plight of The Spanish Riding School of Vienna from those who are closely linked. I am told things will only change if we appeal to the highest level. By writing to the Austrian Ambassador in your own country, your message should filter through to the President himself, since he is represented by his Ambassador - wherever you live. If enough people write in their own words, we earnestly hope for change and a restoration of The School's ethos and role in the world today.
I urge you now to write diplomatically. I hope my open Draft Letter below may give you some ideas of what the School means to you.
(For further reference it may help for you to read in our Public Library:
Our Proud Horses - Our Heritage - Time to Act
Also : The Abuse of Beauty)
A PLEA TO THE PRESIDENT OF AUSTRIA
For connoisseurs and riders from all over the globe, the Spanish Riding School of Vienna and its dazzling white stallions is a beacon of light in an increasingly cynical world. Wondrously preserved by the Austrian State, this incredible institution has withstood battles, revolutions, invasions and two World Wars. Even Hitler, who hated horses, failed to touch it.
One of the cultural cradles of the Western world it is now at risk from the grasping hand of commercialism.
The School was never about making money like Disneyland or the Monaco Grand Prix. It was about something much deeper... It drew us back to our roots, our very survival. Without the Horse, where would we all be today? 'My kingdom for a horse!'
These words might have been uttered by an English King but it was the great Austro-Hungarian Empire that had the power, the imagination and the culture to build the beautiful Winter Riding School in 1735.
Centuries later, it threw its doors open to an adoring public and the people came - in their tens of thousands.
But this is not any riding school; this is a place of cultural excellence where horse and rider work not for ribbons or Olympic gold but to demonstrate Art and Purity of movement. It is an inspiration to all riders and all who appreciate beautiful things.
The tenets of how to train a horse are laid in stone - handed down from centuries by Master horsemen to their young apprentices who in turn became Masters themselves. Nothing is rushed, nothing is forced. The horses are treated with the utmost love and respect.
That is what is was; that is how it has always been - for the guidance of all who own horses and the excellence of the work itself. Until now.
Despite the best endeavours of all the Riders, things have changed. Money and profit is the new goal; more rush, quicker results; more performances ; less time; away with the old, in with the new... And so on.
The tourists still come but not the cognoscenti. The bigger picture is lost. What drew the discerning spectator to the Spanish School also drew them to the opera house, the art galleries, the museums, the hotels and the shops. It was a magnet.
If you lose the essence of the Spanish Riding School through the present system of modernisation, Vienna will lose its place as a cultural Mecca. Already many are turning away. The horses are tired, the magic has gone, the internet awash with disapproval.
We who support and cherish the School make a Plea to the President of Austria to restore the dancing white stallions into the hands of those who have studied and worked with them under the Masters ... before it is too late. There is not much time.
The World awaits ...
Founder of The Classical Riding Club