Weekend performances at the world-famous Spanish Riding School in Vienna have been cancelled after nearly half the school’s horses have developed a cough.

Thirty of the 73 horses at the riding school have come down with a severe cough, forcing cancellation of the shows.

Although 10 of the horses are on the road to recovery they still need rest, and 20 are still unwell.

“Due to a number of Lipizzaner stallions having contracted a severe cough the performances scheduled for Sunday 21 March, Saturday, 27 March and Sunday, 28 March have been cancelled, as it would not be possible to show a complete performance,” said a spokesman.

“We apologise for any inconvenience but must emphasise that the health and well-being of our Lipizzaners is our greatest priority.”

The school was founded in 1572.