Riding school in Sweden to mark 350th anniversary

John Arsenius and other riders at Uppsala Castle in the 19th century. John Arsenius was Academy Equerry 1877–1888.
John Arsenius and other riders at Uppsala Castle in the 19th century. John Arsenius was Academy Equerry 1877–1888.

Sweden’s Uppsala University is preparing to celebrate the 350th anniversary its riding school – the second oldest riding institution in the world after the Spanish Riding School in Vienna.

Some things, it seems, have not changed in the course of more than 300 years. Riding and study do not always mix. In documents from the early period, there are complaints from the professors about students riding instead of studying.

The anniversary will marked in the northern hemisphere autumn with a day of activities, with the horse as the centre of attention.

“It will be a celebration to remember, with riders, lectures and playful riding competitions,” says Marianne Andersson, Inspector Equitandi for riding activities at the university.

There will also be a jubilee book published in time for the September 12 festivities, with chapters written by University Library director Lars Burman and Margareta Nisser-Dalman, director of the Swedish Royal Collections.

The university will mark the occasion by adding four new riding scholarships to the existing six.

“It is pleasing and means that we can give more students the possibility of free riding,” says Academy Equerry Karin Agenäs.

In 1663 the riding activities at Uppsala University were founded, offered to students as a practical subject.

Even before becoming university chancellor in 1646, Axel Oxenstierna wanted the students to be offered practical subjects, so-called exercitia, but it was chancellor Magnus Gabriel De la Gardie who made it happen.

The exercitia consisted of modern languages, fencing, dancing, music, drawing and riding.

“The students were nobility and for future diplomatic or military tasks they needed to know languages and also riding, dancing and fencing,” says Andersson.

The first Academy Equerry, Henrik Scherer, was employed in 1665 and was given 22 horses by De la Gardie.

Since then there has always been riding at the University.

The stable stood where the University Main Building stands today, above what used to be the university building, now the Museum Gustavianum.

The stable was moved to Österplan, on to Husargatan by the Biomedical Centre and finally to the current location, Kvarnbo.

Since 1978, the riding school has been run by Upplands-Västmanlands riding club.

The academic Department of Riding consists of the Inspector Equitandi, the Academy Equerry and the University employees and students who practice riding.


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