This book is a memorial to a man who has done more than any other single instructor for riding in Australia. He trained no less than six Olympic equestrian teams and was preparing the seventh when his untimely death came as an unexpected blow to the horse world.
He was a philosopher with a great love and understanding of his equine friends. The book, if read carefully, brings a very necessary message to all people who love horses and who strive to educate the horse so that he is able to give his best and last longer, whatever the purpose of his training. All serious riders who desire to compete in dressage, showjumping, or threeday eventing should make this book their bible. Anyone who is prepared to put Franz Mairinger's advice into practice will be rewarded with success.
This book has been put together from the accumulated notes of lectures and demonstrations given by Franz Mairinger throughout Australia. Unhappily, he died before he was able to prepare the manuscript. Accordingly his wife, Erna, gathered all the available material and, with the help of various friends, pupils, and followers of his teachings, arranged it in the form in which it appears here.
Great care has been taken not to interfere in any way with the character and spirit of the original. The people concerned knew Franz Mairinger as a great riding master for more than twenty-five years; they studied under him and admired his extraordinary wisdom and skill in educating the horse. The utmost thought has therefore been given to the manuscript to ensure the accuracy of the text.
Franz Mairinger was born in Vienna on 11 December 1915, the son of an engineer, who encouraged him to pursue a similar career. However, Franz's real interest lay in horses -- an interest which developed even more strongly from the day he enlisted in the Austrian Cavalry in 1935. At that time it was customary for some of the top riders to be sent to foreign cavalry schools, and Franz was soon rewarded for his ability and dedication by being selected to attend the highly regarded Cavalry School of Hanover in Germany which was famous for its achievements in jumping and 'military' (three-day eventing).
Franz spent two years there, receiving a thorough training in those disciplines. Although dressage was part of the training he was at that time more interested in jumping, cross country, and steeplechasing.
Dressage really captured Franz's attention when he attended the International Horse Show in Hanover where the Spanish Riding School of Vienna gave a number of guest performances. Their horses were stabled at the Cavalry School -- an arrangement which later proved to be very fortunate for Franz because, unknown to him, Colonel Podjhasky (the Director of the Spanish Riding School) had been observing the Cavalry riders working out. Franz was asked to ride one of the Spanish Riding School stallions, and he so impressed the Director that on the following day he was offered a position at the School. A few months later he was back in his beloved city of Vienna.
Reflecting on the beginnings of his career with the most famous classical riding academy in the world, he once said:
"I thought I could ride well, having been invited to join the Spanish Riding School. My head was very swollen, but it took them only two days to shrink it. I really came down with a thump. I suddenly realised that by the standards of the school I could not ride at all. I also realised that had I given my horses at the Cavalry School only 10 per cent of the schooling given to horses in Vienna how much better they would have performed."
After six years at the School, and after many examinations, Franz was appointed a Bereiter (Senior Rider) and continued for twelve-and-a half years with great success.
One of Franz's significant contributions to Austria occurred in April 1945, when he performed the difficult courbette in front of America's General Patton at the historic demonstration at Weis in Upper Austria where the Lippizaner stallions were stabled during the latter part of the war. The impromptu performance by selected riders convinced General Patton of the need for the immediate transfer of the Lippizaner mares from Czechoslovakia which was in the process of being occupied by the Russian army. The success of this daring venture has since been depicted in a well-known film.
After a period as a private instructor in Switzerland following his resignation from the School in 1951, he made the decision to leave Europe, which was slowly recovering from the war, and begin a new life in Australia with his family. This move was made on the suggestion of a former pupil, Major Sandford, who gave him introductions to friends in Australia who were hoping to assemble a group of their best equestrians to start preparation for the Olympic Games in Stockholm.
Miss Kay Irving, M.B.E., was instrumental in Franz's becoming the first trainer of an Australian Olympic Equestrian team when she suggested that Franz be asked to conduct a suitable training course for potential competitors in 1955. .................