Travel to Vienna, Austria, and tour the prestigious Spanish Riding School with AQHA’s international intern.
Students from the University of Findlay and Lauren Wells enjoyed their tour of the Spanish Riding School. From left: Christina Brantner, Spencer Zimmerman, Kimmy Deane, Rachel Leone Beerbower, Tia Beasley and Lauren Wells.
By Lauren Wells, AQHA international intern, Summer 2014
It’s hard to believe that the first AQHA international horsemanship camp for 2014 is almost complete! Over the past few days, the students from the University of Findlay and I have certainly stayed busy traveling, sightseeing and, of course, conducting the horsemanship camp.
After flying into Frankfurt, Germany, the students and I rode a seven-hour train to Vienna, Austria. I was completely blown away by the gorgeous scenery as I gazed out my window and saw the rolling green hills and rivers of rural Austria.
On Thursday, we started the day at the prestigious Spanish Riding School in downtown Vienna and attended the school’s morning exercise. We watched in awe as the Lipizzaner stallions were taken through the paces performing a variety of dressage movements, including the passage, pirouette, half pass and piaffe.
After lunch at a local cafe, we returned to the Spanish Riding School in the afternoon to attend the guided tour. We had the opportunity to walk through the stallion barn, tack room and onto the arena floor. The tack room wall was covered in custom-made saddles that conformed to fit each stallion’s back perfectly. Dressage bridles, adorned with gold plates handcrafted by an Austrian saddlery, hung neatly in glass cases.
Walking into the arena, I was amazed by the intricate architecture and artwork of the 440-year-old riding academy. Authentic oil paintings decorated the walls and chandeliers hung from the ceiling. Just outside the arena stood the largest hot walker in the world, which can hold up to 19 horses. After each stallion has completed their morning exercise, they are walked out for 45 minutes using this hot walker.
University of Findlay student Rachel Beerbower teaches a camp participant the correct way to enter the box in trail.
Following our visit to the Spanish Riding School, we traveled to the Schonbrunn Palace and took the Vienna metro to meet up with our camp host, Gabriele Dautzenberg. From our hotel, she brought us to the Long View Ranch in Wilhemsburg, Austria, the location of the first camp.
Although we learned and experienced a lot in the past few days about the Austrian culture and horse industry, perhaps the most enjoyable component of our experience thus far has been the welcoming atmosphere and hospitable attitude provided by our host, Gabriele, and the camp participants. The riders’ willingness to learn and further develop their horsemanship skills has been outstanding. Just in a couple of days, we have seen large improvements in the performances of each horse and rider.
Ultimately, it has been witnessing the progress of the riders and the common interest and passion for the horse that we share with the participants that has made camp Austria rewarding and meaningful. It is evident that through the American Quarter Horse, people can gather together from around the world and from all walks of life. Through horses, we are able to form this global network of equine enthusiasts while cultivating and expanding relationships amongst members of our AQHA affiliates.
Stayed tuned for my next blog featuring the background and story behind the Long View Ranch, plus more photos from the very first AQHA international horsemanship camp of the summer.
See you soon!
The indoor arena, where the Spanish Riding School morning exercises take place
Handcrafted steel door handle at the Vienna Riding School
Custom-made saddles cover the Spanish Riding School tack room wall.
Taking a peek at one of Spanish Riding School’s Lipizzaner stallions
Sightseeing in downtown Vienna