In 2013, the Spanish Riding School in Vienna was opening his doors to professional trainers. The idea was to invite foreign riders to share their century old knowledge of classical dressage. I applied and was lucky enough to get selected to join the group.
The disillusionment of riding in the big majestic arena came rather quickly as I found out we would be training at the equestrian center Heldenberg, about 50 km outside of Vienna. Nevertheless I was over the moon excited to start the training. Given the distance from Belgium to Austria, I was not able to bring my own horse.
Heldenberg is a brand new and modern training center with all facilities, in the middle of nowhere, where every horse feels like a king. The perfect place to improve your training in a professional environment. Every horse has its own paddock to enjoy the sunshine. My stallion would be in seventh heaven if he was here.
The 81 boxes are spacious with a lot of light. Both indoor and outdoor arenas were in perfect condition to train all year long. Before we started our training, we could see a glimpse of the performance of the official riders. The horsemanship of the riders and the way they handle the young stallions with ease was outstanding. Unfortunately, it was not allowed to take pictures during the training sessions.
Work in hand by Andreas Hausberger
My goal during the training sessions was to get more knowledge about work in hand and some usefull tips and tricks for the more challenging exercises. Our group of trainers came from all over the world, which led to very inspiring discussions. The course, as wel theoretical as practical, was very interesting and chief rider Andreas Hausberger was answering all our questions. Yes, even the ones about the rollkür hype and the difference between the classical and modern way of dressage training.
Since their return from Upper Austria in 1955, the Lipizzaner stallions of the Spanish Riding School have regularly spent their well-earned summer break away from Vienna.
The young up-and-coming stars of the Spanish Riding School spend their first training years in Heldenberg, gradually becoming accustomed to their training schedule and new surroundings.
The fully trained School stallions that delight their audiences in Vienna during the season not only enjoy a respite in Heldenberg during the hot months of July and August but are also allowed to relax for an additional 6-8 weeks every year and enjoy the fresh country air, freedom of movement and quiet, natural surroundings.
The horses who are stabled in the center of Vienna are treated as kings as well. And what a privilege the Lipizzaner stallions have in Vienna: world’s largest oval horse walker. With its 132 m, the walker can fit 20 horses in it.
On the last day, we went to the Hofreitschule for a guided tour, we’ve had a chat with the riders and had a sneak peak of the gorgeous tackroom and indoor arena. There no doubt, I needed to enter the holy sand in the indoor arena. Afterwards, we’ve received the coveted certificate.