Staff at the world-famous Spanish Riding School in Vienna where classic dressage is still practised in its purest form, are reported to be threatening to strike over the news that, for the first time since it was founded in 1572, women riders could be accepted.

The prestigious school has recently been taken over by new management, including Gerd Prechtl, a former television presenter who has been given the job of increasing profits for the school.

According to a report in The Daily Telegraph, Mr Prechtl believes the Spanish Riding School, which is based in the historic grounds of the Habsburgs- former winter palace, must “move with the times”.

“What is wrong with having women as an extension to our existing programme? I can’t help it if the male riders are billing it as the end of the world,” he said.

However, he was swift to dismiss any suggestions that the famous Lipizzaners would be exploited.

“Under no circumstances will the riding school be at the mercy of unbridled commercialisation, ” said Mr Prechtl. ” Tradition will be upheld. The main thing is to establish a high value product, not a cheap show.”

For more information about the Spanish Riding School, visit