The Spanish Riding School in Vienna
The first time I visited Vienna was technically when I was 2 years old as a weekend trip from Krakow with my mom and grandma; but I don't remember that first visit. From what I am told the only thing I kept asking about was the Lippizaner show, but because the stallions spend the summer breeding, we did not get to see the show that time. When I went last year it was one of the major things I wanted to see, a large part of what attracted me to Vienna in the first place. I got lucky -- the weekend I visited was the last show of the season and the only tickets left were in the second row box, one of the best spots in the house. I sat there for 45 minutes frozen in awe at the magnificence before me. Maybe it means more to a horse person, maybe you have to ride horses to truly understand the difficulty, even seeming impossibility, of some of the tasks and moves these horses and riders perform. It is an incredible show.
This time we were there again in the summer, so the stallions were gone to the countryside to breed, but there was a special show going on that featured some of the mares and their foals. Of course I wanted to see it and our hotel arranged for tickets. We had front row seats as an announcer explained more about the pure bloodline and history of the horses, the breeding program, and the ins and outs of the school. During the portion of the show where the mares and their young foals were set free into the arena, running about excitedly, the trainer came over to our row and with a wink handed me some sugar cubes. I was filled with absolute child-like joy as I was swarmed by a mare, then a foal looking for more treats, then another mare and another. I was licked by Lipizzaners and I was so giddy about it. The Lippizaners are superstars of the horse world -- it's like I had just met Madonna or something. It. Was. Awesome.