By Heinz-Peter Bader
It was a beautiful late summer day with blue sky and not a single cloud when I went to the village of Piber some 200 km (124 miles) west of Vienna to see the world famous Lipizzaner horses. Well, actually, the 40 young studs were not famous yet, but some of them would be selected to become famous some day – members of the Spanish Riding School in Vienna.
The young Lipizzaners spend their summers in the mountains, and the return back to the stud is traditionally celebrated. They are decorated with flowers, receive blessings in front of the local church and are presented to the people before they arrive at their stable after a 16 km (10 mile) walk.
The biggest challenge for photographers was the speed that they walk at. There was no time for me to “walk” as I needed to look for nice picture backgrounds in advance, run to be ready in time, photograph the flock on their way down the trail, run again to be ready at the next spot and so on. I really enjoyed the eventual arrival at the church for a short rest, in bright sunshine during one of the hottest days in September.
The journey went on after the blessings – walking for the horses, running for me – until we arrived in the city of Koeflach for the presentation to the people. The show was over, but work continued. I went to the stable by car and waited for the Lipizzaners to arrive. It seemed they could hardly wait to return home eventually – they were neighing, running around, jumping and playing with each other.
Summer was over for them and so was my assignment. Maybe I will recognize one of the youngsters, with plain white skin and after an education of six years, during a show at the Spanish Riding School in Vienna.