For the first time in its 440-year history, the Spanish Riding School of Vienna is opening its doors to the wider equestrian public, offering lessons, theory and seminars.
The sessions, due to start next spring, will take place at the Lipizzaner Training Centre in Heldenberg. This is where the famous white stallions spend their holidays and the young horses are trained.
Chief rider Andreas Hausberger — who is also director of the training centre — told H&H: “We want to maintain the tradition of the Spanish Riding School and share our centuries-old knowledge. The capacity is there and we have enough  riders to do the training.”
But only advanced riders with their own horses — and deep pockets —need apply.
“They need to be riding at a high standard,” said Mr Hausberger. “But it is not important that they be competition riders.
“Anyone can apply, but they must submit a video clip of them training and we will decide who to take on.”
Individual lessons cost €250 (£202) and group sessions — for a maximum of three people — are €450 (£363). There is plenty of space, with 40 boxes free for the 10 months of the year that the stallions are based in Vienna.
But demand is expected to be huge.
“It will be really, really big,” said Mr Hausberger. “We already have bookings and I am receiving calls from all over the world.”
British Olympian Richard Davison, one of the few foreign riders to have trained with the Spanish Riding School, said: “It’s a great idea for as many people as possible to benefit from their teaching.
“I am not surprised that they will not be using the Lipizzaners [for teaching riders], because maintaining the standard of highly trained horses while students are learning on them is a challenge,” he added.
In 2007, the school was reported to be running an annual loss of £2.31million.
Businesswoman Elizabeth Gurtler, who took over that year, has attempted to redress the deficit by cutting wages and doubling the number of performances given.
Find out more at www.srs.at.
This news story was first published in the current issue of H&H (18 October 2012)