I have a dream that someday...someday... I will be able to ride like the riders of the Spanish Riding School. That "someday" may not be until I'm in heaven but at least I have something to look forward to.
Today's blog is dedicated to the riders and stallions of the Spanish Riding School in Vienna.
In the third and final book of the Mist Trilogy, "The Rising Mist," (Not yet released) the Legion of the Unicorn is sent to earth to rescue ten of the Lipizzaner Stallions that are kidnapped from their stable in Vienna. I have always been fascinated by these stallions and went to visit their home when I was in Vienna.
Their story is a fascinating one and was captured in the Disney Movie,"The Miracle of the White Stallions." It truly was a miracle that they survived World War II (have I told you that I hate war?) Note: it wasn't just World War II that threatened them. For several hundred years they have had to be protected from man's wars by men themselves.
The story of the resue during World War II is an interesting one and actually took part in two places. During WW II, the high command of Nazi Germany, to which the citizens of Austria had voted overwhelmingly to support before the outbreak of the war, sent the Lipizzan breeding stock to Czechoslovaki including the breeding stock for the SRS that were stabled in Piber. This occured in 1942.
The Stallions in Vienna were moved to St. Martins in January of 1945 as bombing raids drew nearer to the city. At this time, the horses in Hostau Czechoslovakia were threatened by the advancing Soviet Army who might have slaughtered them to feed their hungry troops. In the spring of 1945, the head of the Spanish Riding School, Colonel Alois Podhajsky (definately a future unicorn rider) arranged to put on a performance for General George S. Patton. Both men were Olympic riders by the way. At the end of the performance, Podhajsky asked Patton to take the horses under his protection which Patton, to his immense credit, did.
Meanwhile, a U.S. Army Tank unit under the command of Colonel Charles Reed directed "Operation Cowboy" which saved the breeding stock in Czechoslovakia. They rode, herded and trucked 1,200 horses, including 375 Lipizzans, 35 miles across the border into Kotztinz, Germany where they would be safe.
If you want to learn more about the Lipizzan's of the Spanish Riding School, both the history and their training techniques, watch these two videos. They are beautifully done and you will learn a lot!
Take a break from training your own horse to read "Behind the Mist," The horse and Unicorn Lover's fantasy.
Available here: www.behindthemist.com
and wherever books are sold.