Vienna gets fancy four-legged lawnmowers

Vienna's Burggarten.
Vienna’s Burggarten.

Mares and foals have taken the place of the famous white lipizzaner stallions of the Spanish Riding School in Vienna, Austria, and they’re grazing a public park.

While the stallions are on a summer break, six of the Piber stud’s 70 broodmares and their young foals are in the city, and they are being let out for an hour every day to graze in a “green nursery” on the Vienna Burggarten, a former palace garden and now a public park.

Spanish Riding School Managing Director Elisabeth Gürtler told the Vienna Times that “There will not be much need for mowing the grass.”

Gürtler told the newspaper that the horses were previously housed only on the ground of the riding school, but she had realised they were deprived of greenery.

A city council spokesman told the newspaper that the authority was not worried about damage to the grounds as the horses are not shod.

lipizzaner1She said the school’s summer programme “Piber meets Vienna” would be an opportunity for the public to see the young foals. “This summer programme offers the unique opportunity of gaining an impression of the Federal Stud Piber and our valuable mares and their foals.”

The mares and foals will be out on the Vienna Burggarten up to August 2, Tuesdays to Saturdays – in good weather only.

They will also be on show at the riding school daily except Mondays from 11am to noon, and the “Piber meets Vienna” show includes four other highlights.


  • A Pas de Deux carried out by two historical carriages: the first one – a so-called “Spider Phaeton” – is drawn by a horse in single harness, while the second carriage – a “Vis-à-Vis” – is drawn by a pair.
  • Seven four-year-old performance-tested mares from Piber are allowed to romp around in the venerable Winter Riding School. On the base of certain criteria like their bloodline, exterieur and character they were chosen from a herd of 20 same-aged mares to ensure the future Lipizzaner breed in Piber.
  • A ridden Pas de Deux. Just as with the “driven” Pas de Deux the difficulty lies in the exact execution of the figures in perfect harmony. Two six-years-old mares of the Lipizzaner Stud Piber which successfully completed their performance test in horseback and carriage riding in 2012 are presented.
  • The culmination is the Imperial Quadrille: a historical carriage dating back to Emperor Franz Josef’s court drawn by a four-in-hand and escorted by two riders wearing traditional uniforms from Piber. A four-in-hand is the seen as the premier class of driving and distinguishes every driver as a skilful master of his trade.

From August 2 the mares and foals will be back roaming the pastures of the Lipizzaner Stud farm in Piber, in the Austrian state of Styria.

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