Spain’s Royal Andalusian School of Equestrian Art
An equestrian ballet in Jerez, Spain with Andalusian Horses
On our travels for Equitrekking, I was able to visit the Royal Andalusian School of Equestrian Art to see a performance and film several interviews with riders for the Equitrekking Spain episode.
The Royal Andalusian School of Equestrian Art trains some of the best Andalusian horses and riders in Spain and educates visitors on the history of equestrian culture in Spain. Equestrians perform in “How the Andalusian Horses Dance,” an equestrian ballet that is open to the public.
The school is located in Jerez, whose architecture is a composite of neoclassical, baroque and gothic. On the well manicured grounds of the Royal School the equestrian center lies beside a 19th century baroque-style palace designed by Charles Garnier, who designed the Paris Opera.
Riders in 18th and 19th century styled costumes perform various types of country and classical dressage as well as emulate the traditional way to work with horses on cattle ranches in Spain. Dressage is a discipline in which horses are trained to carry out various movements based on slight cues from their rider. Horse and rider appear melded together, as if in a dance.
During the piaffe, a high school dressage movement, the horse trots in place. For the passage, horses evecute a slow, elevated trot by lifting its legs very high, while trotting in place. As the horses, with their long, full manes and arched necks, walk their ballet-like walk, stepping high into the air, one can appreciate the bond between horse and rider and years of training they must undergo to attain this harmony.
Set to Spanish and classical music, the show is choreographed to include carriages barely colliding, as they form figure eight patterns around the ring. Drivers may only use their hands, voice and whip to drive the horses, making carriage driving a more challenging sport than meets the eye. One of the highlights of the performance is the capriole, when horses leap into the air in a stunning feat of athleticism and training.