The end of an era could be approaching for the Spanish Riding School of Vienna. First Chief Rider Arthur Kottas is considering his future at the 400-year-old centre of classical equitation after a career there spanning four decades. For the past 22years he has held the most senior role among the riders.

A period of change for the home of the famous white Lipizzaner stallions began in 2001 when its owner, the Austrian government, announced that it was to bring in a private management company to look at ways of making the school pay.

A number of modernisation policies were proposed, ranging from increased public access to training sessions to doubling the number of stallions. The proposals did not find universal favour, and Kottas was one of several dissenters who felt that upholding the traditions of the school was paramount.

“I don’t know how much longer I will be in my post,” he commented. “I am due to retire in 3« years anyway, but I may well leave before that.There is no major disagreement and I am still considering the future.

Kottas is in demand worldwide as a teacher of classical riding, and it is in this direction that his future may lie.

“I feel that I would like to devote more time to helping top riders improve their work and also to those who do not compete but who love classical equitation for its own sake,” he said.

Read the full story in this week’s Horse & Hound (23 January), or click here to subscribe and enjoy Horse & Hound delivered to your door every week.