I want to share a few photos I took when I visited the Spanish Riding School in the fall of 1995. I was invited to visit by Dr. Oulehla and be his guest for a gala performance.
I arrived in Vienna late in the evening with a scheduled day of rest the following morning. However, I could not sleep. I wanted to just see the building, be near it, and find the stables. I was up at the crack of dawn, found the underground railway, and made my way toward the Spanish Riding School, just following a city map. I have seen many pictures of it, but I could not identify which building in which it is housed. Maybe, because every approach to the building (actually a "castle") looks completely different.
I cannot describe the excitement I felt when I knew I was getting very close to finding the real Spanish Riding School.
When I did find the entrance, I discovered there was a practice session getting ready to start. But, there were no more seats. On a wild hope, I went to the office and asked to see Chief Rider Arthur Kottas, whom I met and had dinner with in San Francisco in 1984. I could not believe he remembered me after all this time. He was so gracious and kind. He gave me and my friends seats on the floor.
When the practice began,
I started to cry. It was truly the dream of a lifetime . . . actually being
there, so close to the stallions and riders, down on the floor, sitting in the
seats where all the dignitaries and historical people throughout history have
sat and watched this exquisite form of art. I must say, for me, it was a spiritual
experience. Of course, I tried to view things from a technical aspect since
I was sitting so close...but, I could not. I just kept experiencing the art,
the magestic spirit of these horses, the timeless tradition . . . the incredible,
noble, enduring power of the Lipizzaner horses and the full body of the Spanish
Riding School. It is a memory I will never forget.