When Horses „go a travelling“- the Spanish Riding School on Tour
It was under the directorship of Rudolf Count van der Straten that the Spanish Riding School undertook its first international tour to Berlin in 1925. Since then the riders and their famous white Lipizzaner stallions have regularly gone abroad to present the High School of Classical Horsemanship to horse lovers all over the world.
Every tour requires careful and detailed preparations. In total approx. 5-6 tons of equipment – from the riders’ uniforms to a sewing needle – are stowed away in up to 90 large tour chests. They include the splendid white buckskin saddles and brass-plated bridles for the performances, training saddles, snaffle and double bridles for exercising the horses between the shows, and various spares and repair material should anything be damaged. Additionally each stallion has his own blankets, brushes and grooming kit which all need to be considered, packed and transported.
„We even take along the stallions’ special muesli, so that we don’t risk upsetting their digestion with a sudden change in feed” says Senior Stable Master Johannes Hamminger. Every week the stallions feed on approx. 500 kg of muesli. Hay, oats and straw in the order of 1-2 tons per week and of course apples and carrots are supplied at each venue. All this needs to be arranged well in advance of the horses’ journey.
Even the famous pillars which grace the centre of the baroque Winter Riding School are included in the luggage. Special floor plates which ensure the pillars remain rock solid are taken along together with the red, white, and red Austrian flags.
The stallions travel in groups of six in especially adapted horseboxes which are equipped with video surveillance, pneumatic suspension and special footing ensuring the horses’ joints are not strained. The grooms and the Senior Stable Master travel together with their charges.