The Spanish Riding School in Vienna suffers from a financial crisis – News Couple

The Spanish Riding School in Vienna suffers from a financial crisis

For hundreds of years, the stunning white Lipizzaner horses from the Spanish Riding School in Vienna have been dancing and posing to entertain imperial crowds and curious tourists.

However, Austrian state auditors on Friday accused the riding school of dealing with another problem: for the better part of the past decade, the school’s finances were in crisis.

“The [school] The Austrian Court of Audit said in a report at the school that also noted the consequences of financial problems on the welfare of some of its horses.

One of Vienna’s most famous tourist attractions, and a symbol of Austria’s imperial past, the school is named after the original lineage of Lipizzaners in which it breeds. It is the oldest equestrian academy in the world and one of the most prestigious, dating back to the late 16th century.

The school was set up as a business in 2001, while remaining wholly owned by the Austrian state. The audit report reveals that its financial conditions have steadily deteriorated and it has lost money every year since 2014.

In 2020, the coronavirus pandemic has moved things from a precarious state to an “existential” state, the report adds. The report says the school only survived last year thanks to a €7m bailout from the Ministry of Agriculture that allowed it to continue paying staff and covering its costs. State monitors say the money is still not enough.

The school did not respond to a request for comment on the report’s findings.

The review also concluded that the school’s financial crisis had an impact on animal welfare. “The economic situation of the Spanish Riding School requires more and more performances . . . [but] As a result, stallions were sometimes not given adequate time to recuperate. Moreover, stallions were used in performances whose physical composition did not allow this,” the report states.

Under the vision set when it became independent 20 years ago, income is supposed to come from the tickets the school sells to tourists and equestrian enthusiasts to its stunning designer shows, which claim to showcase the world’s most demanding riding and equestrian skills.

Reviewers said the average retirement age for performing horses has steadily declined over recent years, indicating how well the animals work.

Moreover, for all its grandeur, the stables of the Baroque school in the center of Vienna need urgent modernization and professional upgrading of equine health. The financial situation of the school means that such capital investments are impossible.

Reviewers said the stables’ ventilation system has been broken for “years,” which means stable doors must be kept open constantly. Horses rarely get enough exercise due to staff and time pressures.

A “multi-year” financial settlement and emergency grant from the Austrian government is now needed, the audit court concluded, so that the school can come up with a strategic plan to put it on a firmer footing.

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