Spanish Riding School

This man was an treat watch working horses, in hand. What a waste to the SRS.

He was excellent at teaching horses to piaffe, and their riders to ride them.



I saw that this morning…there may be more to the story people are saying. One to watch.


I was sad to see this. I’ve met Herr Hausberger and he is talented and really loves the horses.

IMHO, the SRS is heading away from the classical and towards a business model that might not be in the best interest of the horses.



Yes I saw that on FB yesterday. Several other riders were fired or quit. I can’t remember which. I am thinking the SRS may need to hire Pat Parelli and let the riders carry carrot sticks instead of birch switches the direction it is headed with the new director. Sad to see such a classical institution with a long legacy ruined by people that are not horsemen.


I have always thought that Parelli was a poseur. A one trick pony. And all the intelligent educated riders, both European and American such as the O’Connors demeaned themselves by association.

WWl, andWW2, could not destroy it. but ignorance from within the country is,sadly, posing a serious threat.


Yep. I have friends who are in the Lippazan world and their opinion is this is been going on for decades, and the direction under Hudler is just an acceleration of an already existing trend. Horses being forced too young or too unsound, reducing the quality of care, all under the direction of a man who has no real horse experience, and was the executive of a mineral water company.

The SRS has lost six chief riders in the past 25 years in the pursuit of privatization and running the organization like a corporation.


I am fairly certain that SusanO was being facetious. :wink:


Gonna have to Google…

This is so depressing

wow that is such a shame.

I never thought I’d see the day when I became concerned that the SRS was heading for demise, but here we are.


Tarlo, thanks for the tag. Not much I can say at the moment. This is upsetting on a number of levels. :frowning:


Really sad to hear about all this dram and it seems the horses are the ones who are suffering the most.


FB post of Thomas Ritter yesterday reads–

Most of you will have heard of the latest upheaval at the Spanish Riding School in Vienna. Chief Rider Andreas Hausberger who served for 40 years at the School was suspended from his job for criticising the leadership of the current director Alfred Hudler.
This is the latest event in a long series of conflicts between the chief riders of the school and the business leadership stretching back more than 15 years and at least three different directors. The core issue seems to be that the last three directors came from a corporate business background, not a dressage background, and tried to run the Spanish Riding School like a hotel (Elisabeth GĂĽrtler) or a brewery (Alfred Hudler) with the bottom line as the top priority.
The inevitable consequence of a profit oriented leadership style is that corners are cut in the training, horses have to be pushed up the levels faster than they can handle, and they have to perform more often than is healthy in order to maximise profits. The well-being of the horses is compromised, lamenesses become a regular occurrence, and the quality of the training deteriorates.
Whenever chief riders stood up to the leadership and pointed out the harmful consequences of their management, they were fired, rather than trying to find solutions to the problems they brought to the attention of the director.
In a corporate environment, having a young dynamic team may be an advantage, but in a classical riding school decades’ worth of practical training experience with hundreds of horses can’t be replaced by anything, not even youthful enthusiasm. And while it may be relatively easy to replace a chef at a restaurant or a brew master in a brewery, replacing a chief rider of the Spanish Riding School takes 30 or 40 years because they have to be made from scratch - under the supervision of the previous generation of chief riders. Once this chain of transmission is interrupted, it cannot be repaired.
If you count Arthur Kottas as the first chief rider to leave the school after the privatisation, the school has lost a total of six (!) chief riders (Klaus Krzisch, Johann Riegler, Wolfgang Eder, Herwig Radnetter, and now Andreas Hausberger) in 25 years. Each one of them has 40+ years of practical experience in riding and training horses. That adds up to more than 240 years of combined experience. This is a loss that is impossible to replace.

The Spanish Riding School has existed for well over 400 years and used to uphold the highest standards of classical European equestrian art. The secret to its success was the unbroken succession of teachers who trained horses to the highest levels and then used these horses as four-legged teachers to pass their knowledge on to the next generation of two-legged students. This resulted in the accumulation of a vast body of practical knowledge. The instruction always took place in person, one teacher, one horse, one student at a time. Very little was written down, which makes the tradition vulnerable to disruption if only one generation doesn’t take care to preserve and transmit this knowledge to the next generation. All this incredible training knowledge can disappear very quickly if the chain of transmission from teacher to horse to student is interrupted. Thanks to the corporate leadership of the last 15-20 years, we may have reached this point today.

If the highest priority of a cultural institution like the Spanish Riding School is the well-being of the horses and the quality of the training, then ticket sales and merchandise will not be able to generate enough income to cover the expenses. Trying to increase sales by holding more performances and training horses faster destroys the health of the horses and the integrity of the training, as three consecutive corporate directors have amply demonstrated. So the gap in the budget needs to be filled in other ways. Either the Austrian state has to step in and subsidise its cultural heritage, or private sponsors can help to finance the school, similarly to the way opera houses in the United States are supported by countless small and large sponsors.

In the meantime, there is a petition you can sign that demands a change in the way the Spanish Riding School is managed.

Or you can write a letter to the director of the school, Dr. Alfred Hudler:


What a goddamn shame.

As an institution this is frankly not surprising. The SRS has become, in the view of many if not most Austrians, as something for tourists. While we may appreciate it as a heritage institution, the people who actually subsidize it are increasingly distanced from it. The show culture Gurtler brought has only accelerated this (she was not well regarded by the Viennese for other reasons).

The SRS is a vestige of a defunct empire. A lovely one in many ways, but still.


Thanks for posting the petition, Trekkie. I have signed and posted on my SM. (No fan at all of Herr Ritter, but I really like what he wrote.)

But, it is a repository of valuable education on the correct training of horses. And as such I personally hope it continues ,not so much as a money maker, but as a national institution, as we Americans revere our monuments and parks.

Imagine charging to visit the Lincoln Memorial.


I think the Lincoln Memorial costs a lot less to maintain than stable full of upper level dressage stallions, a breeding farm, and a fleet of riders in training.


As for the overall school, I’m glad that the chief riders have been advocating for the horses and it’s a shame that this particular institution seems to be going downhill.

That said, it’s not taking dressage down with it. Other people have figured out how to train horses and riders up the levels and do a damn fine job of it. The knowledge exists in the world and you don’t have to be a trainee at the SRS to learn it, or a chief rider at the SRS to pass it along to others.

Charlotte DuJardin, for example, figured out how to ride dressage without going to the Spanish Riding School. Currently the top 6 dressage riders in the world are all women (one is on the list twice with two different horses).

The SRS did not admit women at all until 2008. Charlotte was 23 at the time and already had the ride on a developing Valegro.

For most of the hundreds of years they’ve been around, they’ve only been preserving and passing down their traditions to men. Women who have wanted to learn to ride have had to go elsewhere. And they’ve done so with wild success.

So excuse me for not crying the biggest river that some institution which has been run by men for men and at the exclusion of women for literally hundreds of years is now struggling to keep going.

There are plenty of other places keeping dressage alive and if these dudes can’t pull their heads out of their asses then I guess that’s sad for them. Somebody else will carry on the torch for them, and dressage will go on.


One cannot equate what Charlotte DuJardin does with what they do at the SRS. I’m not saying one is better than the other, just that they are very, very different.