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Date:7/25/2014 9:23:29 AM
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Eight horses enter the hall in single file, stopping at the far end where the riders doff their hats to salute the portrait of Emperor Charles VI.

First the horses and riders demonstrate all steps and movements of the high school where four stallions perform each of the movements seen in the Olympic Grand Prix Dressage test, including the flying change, passage, pirouette, and piaffe. The "Pas De Deux" is then shown, with two horses demonstrating High School movements in mirror image.

The "Airs Above the Ground" follows; all horses are under saddle, but the riders do not have stirrups. Movements performed include the levade, capriole and courbette.

The piaffe is demonstrated first, as it is the step that leads to the Airs Above the Ground. The piaffe is a dressage movement where the horse is in a highly collected and cadenced trot, in place or nearly in place. The center of gravity of the horse should be more towards the hind end, with the hindquarters slightly lowered and great bending of the joints in the hind legs. The front end of the horse is highly mobile, free, and light, with great flexion in the joints of the front legs, and the horse remains light in the hand. The horse should retain a clear and even rhythm, show great impulsion, and ideally should have a moment of suspension between the foot falls. As in all dressage, the horse should perform in a calm manner and remain on the bit with a round back.

The levade is a movement in which the horse first lowers its body on increasingly bent hocks, then sits on its hind hooves while keeping its forelegs raised and drawn in. This is demonstrated next.

Following is the capriole, an upward leap made by the horse without going forward and with a backward kick of the hind legs at the height of the leap.

Finally, the courbette, where the horse rears, then "hops" forward without his forefeet touching the ground. The horse performs five in a row, his feet and body never lowering toward the ground.

The performance finishes with the "School Quadrille", consisting of 8 riders working in formation at the walk, trot, and canter, with flying changes, pirouettes, the half pass and the passage. The ride is performed to classical music. Lasting 20 minutes, the School Quadrille of the Spanish Riding School is the longest and most difficult in the world. (pics my page)
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