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Spanish Riding School Performance

We are going to Austria next December (12/28 - 1/3)

My husband wants to book the show at the Spanish Riding School. Will we enjoy it? Some reviews have said it's boring if you don't know about dressage?

If your reviews are good; are there good/bad seat choices?

Posted by
4059 posts

I can think of about 20 other things I'd rather spend my money on, but I don't ride horses and don't know a thing about dressage. There are good videos online which show the performance. Maybe watch one of those and see if it is for you.

Posted by
540 posts

We loved the show and we are not "horse" or "dressage" people. We lucked out by buying tickets that morning. We were in the back row (a bench really) on the ground and faced the horses as they come in and it was amazing. The good thing is the bench is a little higher than the seats in front so I, who is only 5'2", could see very well. A woman next to us who was a horse person said those are her favorite seats and she books way ahead. She couldn't believe those seats were available that morning. I don't recall what the cost was, but we really enjoyed the show.

Posted by
671 posts

Attend a morning exercise session; it is cheaper than a performance and you can leave anytime you wish. The session (2 hours long) is unstructured in that they bring out groups of horses (e.g., the youngest stallions), work with them, and then bring out another group that perhaps is older and farther along in their training and work on more complicated movements. My wife is a 'horse person' but I am not. Nevertheless, the horses are magnificent and it is fun seeing the young ones being trained to perform the various classical dressage movements.

Posted by
1921 posts

I had wanted to see an actual performance, but didn't want to spend the money. The Vienna Pass included free admission to the morning exercises, so we did that instead. It was enough - we got to see the facility, and got a peek at the horses in their stalls.

https://www.viennapass.com/

Posted by
115 posts

Definitely check for preview videos online - I paid €70 for a seat that was fine (on the end, row 7, seat 8) and was excited to see these famous horses. As it happens, I was uncomfortable seeing the actual performance with how the trainers induced jumping - I guess I was naively expecting the horses to jump during the show without being struck on the legs. I understand that the training requires this, I just wasn't expecting it during showtime. The resulting jumps were lackluster as there is no guarantee for any wow moments. The display of fancy footwork was fun to watch - it was just the jump inducing methods that made me uncomfortable. I actually left the performance early.

Posted by
506 posts

Just to explain a little more what Points and Miles observed: "As it happens, I was uncomfortable seeing the actual performance with how the trainers induced jumping - I guess I was naively expecting the horses to jump during the show without being struck on the legs."

Rather than being trained to voice commands or hand signals as a dog might be, the horses are trained to respond to a touch or tap. If you watch training videos you'll observe that the tap means something different based on location and length of contact (e.g. above or below the hock, the joint half-way down the hind leg).

Posted by
911 posts

To add to Marty’s post: dressage horses and most others are trained to seat and leg aids. If I want my horse to leg yield, I weight my seat on the side I want him to move away from. Both inside and outside leg aids will get different results depending on placement and pressure. While a giving hand rewards him for doing “good”, the hand, ie rein, controls the shoulder and the bend. I expect my horse to move forward from leg aids, light pressure to ask, more pressure or light spur if no or minimal response, whip tap if all else fails. We incorporate basic dressage during our rides, no jumping and don’t show.

“Fancy footwork” is passage, piaffe, canter pirouettes and half pass—all upper level dressage movements. Since some of the haute ecole movements, which are not dressage movements, are done unmounted, the piaffe whip is the only way to communicate with the horse.

Sorry to bore everyone with a simple dressage lesson. I understand that many people do not ride, so don’t know/understand. Just like I don’t get the allure of chasing a little white ball around the golf course.