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Sad news for tradition

On February 20, 2009, in comments to a post called "Conservatives and Tradition" by Ed Feser, I wrote this:

I've always dreaded the day when the Spanish Riding School in Vienna has women riders in its regular performances. Perhaps they already do, but I think not yet. The tradition there is unique, and it is a package. It is not that women cannot be great dressage riders. They certainly can be and have been, and male teachers know this full-well. It's that the whole mystique of the Hofreitschule is a connected thing and that changing it in the name of some abstract concept of sexual equality and "justice" would be just terribly sad. In my opinion, anyway. And there must be many other examples, small and great, of similar things in the world, where no absolute natural law principle is involved but where liberal ideology goes around tearing down or would like to tear down the concrete traditions that have been built up over centuries and have become very beautiful as things in themselves. There must be a way to communicate what is wrong with that.

Later that year I posted this footage of the immortal white stallions and their riders.

Little did I know: Already, in late 2008, the Hofreitschule had admitted its first female eleves--young riders in training.

The two young women, Sojurner Morell and Hannah Zeitlhofer, are no doubt excellent horsewomen with the potential to ride dressage extremely well. (Based on the rider list, about which more below, Morell appears to be no longer with the Reitschule, while Zeitlhofer has moved up to the level of Assistant Rider.) I am not in any way questioning their ability to ride. Dressage is not by any means a male-only sport.

The issue is one of continuity and the integrity of tradition. Nor am I by any means the only one to raise such a question:

"I am not happy about this decision," Elisabeth Max-Theurer, the female president of the governing board, was quoted by the daily Wiener Zeitung as saying.

"I stress that I am not against women - I am only concerned about tradition," said Max-Theurer, a former dressage rider who won gold for Austria in the 1980 Moscow Olympics.

Obviously, Elisabeth Max-Theurer knows something about women and their capability for dressage riding, but she was not happy.

So, how has this already been bad for tradition? Besides, that is, the general gleeful hooting and hollering about how wonderful it is that the oldest riding school in the world has broken from tradition in a "blow for female equality," besides the not-so-faintly patronizing references to the "Teutonic world" as "lagging behind" the rest of the Western world in this area. Let me count the more concrete ways:

1) The eleves used to live with the older riders in a barracks-like setting with a scout-to-superior relationship assigned between specific eleves and older riders. The eleves had to polish the older riders' boots, for example, and the idea was that in return they would receive advice and counsel from those more experienced. I base this on the allegedly accurate portrayal of the Spanish Riding School in Marguerite Henry's 1960's novel White Stallion of Lipizza. It's possible that this relationship, which combines male bonding, mentorship, and a semi-military relationship had already been abandoned by the time the women were admitted, though I'm rather inclined to doubt it. In any event, it is obviously not possible for that relationship to be maintained with women eleves.

2) Already the article in the Independent is talking about changing the uniform for (some of?) the performing riders to make it more...something...feminine? (Since when are female dressage uniforms feminine, anyway?)

The difficulties for women presented by the masculine uniform of frock coat and peaked cap are nothing compared to those presented by the uniform worn by its troupe of still exclusively male chief riders. Their parade dress is a coffee-coloured riding coat buttoned up to the neck, knee-high boots and an 18th-century Captain Hornblower-style bicorne hat. "There are a couple of questions about that," admitted Ms Gürtler, "But we have a few years to think about it."

I find it extremely hard to understand what special "difficulties" this ancient uniform presents for women. Ms. Gurtler, however, is the manager who originally pushed the idea of women in the Riding School, and she seems to have both the determination and (possibly) the clout to force them to modify the ancient uniform to get rid of these alleged "difficulties." Note: One of the beauties of the performance (do click on the above link and watch the quadrille) of the white stallions is the absolute uniformity, symmetry, and, in a sense, anonymity of the riders. It is completely out of line with this that there should be special uniforms for the female riders. But Ms. Gurtler is already scheming away for them. Tradition, shmadition.

3) Hannah and Sojurner admit that their physical capabilities are not strictly identical to those of their male colleagues:

Their main difficulty is trying to mount a horse when its stirrups are set high. Both say their upper arms have not yet developed sufficient muscle to enable them to always complete the process alone. "We sometimes have to ask our male colleagues for a lift up," says Ms Zeitlhofer, "That can be pretty annoying, because then everyone looks at you."

Hmm, well, yes. In White Stallion of Lipizza there is a fictional but not terribly implausible scene in which the protagonist Hans is asked to fill in for a rider in the Sunday performance of the quadrille. He is distracted for a moment, and his horse dumps him off. The horse, beautifully trained, continues in the quadrille, and Hans has to run, catch up, and jump back into the saddle so that the performance is interrupted as little as possible. One wonders what the young women would do in such a situation.

Oh, well, this is just an aberration, right? Most women have just as much upper arm strength as men of the same age and level of athletic training. Oh, wait, guess not.

4) What is a tad odd about the list of current eleves on this page?

Agnes St. George
Ulla Reimers
Georg Sattler
Theresa Stefan
Marlene Tucek

Three and a half years after the first female admissions, we find that the eleves are apparently now almost all female--four out of five. However slowly the process may move, eleves are the future of the Riding School. Why are four out of five of them now female?

If you believe that this disparity is correctly and entirely explained by the supposition that (presumably discounting upper arm and body strength) the female applicants to the school have just out-shone the male applicants by a ratio of 4 to 1, I have a bridge to sell you.

Besides affirmative action (the obvious hypothesis), there may also be some of what we might call Girl Acolyte Syndrome: I've heard traditional Catholics say that when girls became "altar servers," the number of boys wanting to do so fell off. The male mystique was gone, the distinctive male bonding was gone, the culture of the activity was changed, and fewer boys were motivated to be involved. That may be at work here too.

Whatever the cause, I'm going to go out on a limb and say that it will be a major blow to the school's tradition if, over the years, the Spanish Riding School comes to be dominated by female riders. (Especially if they get special girly uniforms.)

And if, as the suspiciously high number of girls suggests, affirmative action as regards ability is also at work here, then the very quality of the riding itself will be damaged, which would be a grave, grave loss.


Now, here I'm going to allow some of my commentators (you know who you are) a pot-shot at me. I've predicted to myself for a long time that this would happen. I consider feminism to be a kind of plague sweeping the world, and it seemed to me almost inconceivable that even so venerable and self-consciously traditional an institution as the Spanish Riding School could escape contagion forever, especially located in liberal modern Europe. But I thought that the mechanism whereby this came about would be EU government force. I'm pretty certain there is some kind of EU ban on gender discrimination in hiring, and it seemed like just a matter of time before a suit was brought against the Riding School for its fairly overt (though I gather not strictly official) previous discrimination against women riders.

I was wrong about the mechanism. Here is what happened instead:

Early last year Elisabeth Gürtler, a Viennese society hostess and owner of the Sacher hotel next door, was appointed general director. An experienced businesswoman, she took over when the school was facing bankruptcy. Last January it had to cancel a tour to the US to cut spending. Part of Ms Gürtler's remit has been to modernise the school and "make it more open". She sees the decision to admit women as an entirely natural process.

So a businesswoman thought this would be a way to make the Riding School (which has been struggling financially for a while) more profitable--by changing its image, "modernizing" it, and making it "more open."

My own inclination is to think that she is wrong about this and that admitting women won't make the school another net penny. The school's great fans (like myself) have always loved it precisely for its traditionalism, for the sense that "I'm seeing something the way that it has been for hundreds of years."

I'm quite willing to believe, though, that Gurtler isn't just a feminist ideologue (though she is no doubt that as well) but actually thinks that admitting women riders was a good business decision for the school.

So here we do have one bona fide case in which at least the beliefs of a person trying to make money favor tearing down tradition for the the sake of tearing down tradition. More's the pity.

Is there any chance that Gurtler will eventually be ousted and that the ban on (new) female eleves will be reinstated? Precious little, I'd guess. And after all, if it comes to that, once the majority of the riders are women, how will the clock ever be turned back? But perhaps we could get another Elisabeth to try it: Elisabeth Max-Theurer, that is.

Comments (26)

It's an old story at this point---the attack on traditions, not just the story about the Lippizaners, about which I had not heard. Sure as shootin,' someone will come along and accuse you of being a mindless reactionary, of wanting to go back to the days when . . . well, I don't know when exactly, because I can't think of anything in horse showing that has changed since stirrups were invented (although I am not an expert).

The same line gets thrown about in every context, even Notre Dame football. Some people insist that the traditions associated with a football game are important, that they connect people to their past and their future and make the activity meaningful, rather than merely stupefyingly entertaining. They thus insist that the game should be played on real grass, that the stadium should not be festooned with advertisements and bleating video boards, and that spectators ought not to be bombarded with amplified pop muzak. In return, modernists accuse them of wanting to return to "the days of leather helmets."

Well what was so wrong with leather helmets, after all?

This is truly sad. I got the same feeling when Rice Institute was strongarmed by the Feds into becoming a co-ed university and when the Texas A&M Corps started admitting women. Our traditions die slowly at the hands of those in government who know best.

I thought of VMI when I was writing about the tradition of having younger and older riders live together and the younger serve the elder. I believe VMI used to have something like that and used it as an argument against, in that case, the government's forcing them to admit women. Of course, the argument got nowhere.

Yes, I was thinking of VMI also. That was the result of stupid government (including judiciary) interference with stupid women leading the charge.

What's needed is an EXPLICIT argument that tradition as such has a place in society and a right to legal / judicial protection. It is vastly past time for this, but late is better than never.

Lydia, I _hope_ you are right about the eleves no longer living with the older riders, barracks-style, at least the women. I fear you may NOT be correct, but I have no information on it, just a fear. I recall going back some 15 years: female reporters at the Washington Post and other papers got their shorts in a knot because male reporters got "all the good quotes" from football and basketball players because they had access to the locker rooms. Solution: Instead of telling female reporters "tough luck, you can get all the good quotes from female sports stars", instead they gave women full access to the locker rooms. UGH!!! Idiots. Nobody seemed to even want to insist on traditional, basic modesty.

What's needed is an EXPLICIT argument that tradition as such has a place in society and a right to legal / judicial protection.

The thing is, the Riding School has talked about tradition for years and years and years. Tradition has been more or less what it's all about. And if it's correct (I did just now find a bit of "gossip" on a discussion board that this would have been required by the EU) that this decision was entirely privately made by someone who was brought on-board to make the school a better money-maker, then what we have here is just an incredibly bad pick (of Gurtler) for a person to whom to give power by the governing board (or whoever brought in Gurtler) of a school that ought to have known better. Frankly, I'm surprised there weren't more mechanisms in place for them to protect tradition from the bad decision of one person, because tradition is their whole shtick. Perhaps this was all just a matter of $$$ and of giving as much power as possible to the owner of a successful hotel. Or maybe there were others who might have had the power to overrule Gurtler's decision but found their own commitment to tradition psychologically in conflict with the ideology of feminism and thus lost the will to fight.

I don't know. The same thread contains the allegation that Gurstler not only decided to include women but chose the first female eleves! If so, that's absolutely terrible, as she did not have the qualifications to do that. If so, of course, it could also explain the 4 out of 5 present female eleves! Bad news. It would certainly show that someone dropped the ball in protecting tradition by giving her that much power. Here is the thread


And here is a link to a wayback cache of an article in German:


Though I can get only an extremely rough translation (and have forgotten, it seems like, more German than I ever learned in graduate school), I can't be absolutely sure, but it seems to confirm the statement that Gurstler chose the two female eleves herself though that was always the prerogative of the older riders. Pretty shocking, if so. Here is the German of that particular passage:

Doch angeblich soll Gürtler die Bedenken der Aufsichtsrats-Präsidentin ignoriert haben – ebenso wie die Widerstände der Mitarbeiter. "Sie hat die Bereiter sogar desavouiert, indem sie diese Woche die jungen Eleven selbst ausgesucht hat. Seit jeher ist das Aufgabe der erfahrenen Bereiter – und nie die eines Geschäftsführers", heißt es aus gut-informierten Politkreisen.

Here is my slightly modified version of the Google translate version of that:

But apparently the concerns of the supervisory board president Gürtler has ignored - as well as the reluctance of the staff. "She has even disavowed the riders this week; she has chosen the young Eleven herself, [which] has always been the task of the experienced riders -. And never a manager," says someone in well-informed political circles.

Here is another paragraph which Google seems to translate better, again, slightly modified by me:

Of the riders, there is no comment on the plans - they are afraid of dismissal if they speak out publicly about the Riding School. They should, however, the "biggest break with tradition in the history of the riding school" speak of. [It] is also contrary to the directives of the riders. "The mood is certainly in the basement," says an observer - not least because Gürtler has in recent months [decided] to put "cash instead of class": "There are now twice as many ideas, but the level is thus fallen miserably," [the observer] says.

One commentator seems to indicate that that should be "twice as many performances" rather than "twice as many ideas," which would make sense if Gurtler was, inter alia, driving them to have more performances for the sake of money but thereby making the overall quality fall.

Lydia, I admire your writing, and I’m sure after this I will continue to admire your writing. But I will beg to differ with you on this point.

I am trained in Haut Ecole dressage…and it is normal for anyone to say they need a “leg up” (to be lifted up to the saddle)…the Spanish Riding School uses no stirrups. If you truly have been “doing your own work” around the horse world, you have no problems with upper arm strength. And the shorter men will stand on a box or get a “leg up” as well.

Secondly: if I do a reductio on your conclusions of a woman interrupting a “men’s club” well now then, why am I “interrupting” the male dominated field of Philosophy? Perhaps because God has gifted and called me into this role. I get little enough support from the body of Christ in the position I am called into. A little less gender stereotyping would be appreciated.

I am NOT a feminist (i.e I think I am better than a man), but a woman who has been uniquely gifted for a track which is not frequented by women, and quite frankly not many men. Just as those women who have had enough talent to be allowed to join the “fraternity” of a male dominated arena of the Spanish Riding School, any women who has the drive or call to enter these fields could use some support. In my experience, the best and most wise instructors I have experienced have been women in the equestrian world. And Margarete Henry is not the end of all experts on the “Spanish Riddenshule.”

And you can ask Tim the amount of abuse as a Christian I face every time I enter a classroom where I am studying philosophy. Some prayer support would be appreciated rather than pot-shots at someone like me, a woman who is working her tail off to make it for no other reason that God asked me to.

By-the-way...I earned an A in my junior level philosophy course...and that from an Atheist professor. Not to shabby from an over-the-hill woman...I think God's validating my call and gifting, wouldn't you say?

Just as those women who have had enough talent to be allowed to join the “fraternity” of a male dominated arena of the Spanish Riding School, any women who has the drive or call to enter these fields could use some support.

Lisa, why must a talented and "called" woman insist on entering the Spanish Riding School, instead of (just for example) calling for a women's school to rival - or surpass - the men? It is not necessary to eradicate tradition in order to do something well as a woman.

There are enough schools that have women riders and instructors and experts that it is obvious to anyone that women are equal to the task of doing well in dressage. What is not clear is why they must do it in that particular arena. Start some traditions that are just as worthwhile, and do it there.

Sad News for Tradition: Militant lefty-liberals want to transform the Western world into an egalitarian utopia. Traditions interfere with the liberal vision of the future. Which, I believe, is why they seek to dismantle traditions or discredit them for embracing an allegedly irrational attachment to and respect for the social and institutional arrangements of the past.

What's happened at the Spanish Riding School and reaction to it, is another skirmish on the cultural battlefront between a vast army of so-called liberals and the diminishing number of conservative 'freedom fighters'.


This post is not a general charge for women to butt out of fields that have traditionally been dominated by men. It certainly isn't an argument that women can't or shouldn't do philosophy; Lydia's own CV bears witness to her views on that. It is a lament for the tradition of haute école at the Spanische Hofreitschule.

The riders at the Reitschule do in fact use stirrups. Pictures easily found online will show this. In the Spanish Riding School, riders sit deeply with a pronounced angle in their hips and knees; hence the shortened stirrup. (See Alois Podhajsky, The Complete Training of Horse and Rider, e.g., "the triangle of the seat," p. 211.) The reference to stirrups comes, moreover, from one of the eleves herself, whom Lydia quotes.

The question of "shorter men" needing a leg up isn't relevant. The riders at the Hofreitschule are supposed to be able to vault themselves up like gymnasts. No exceptions. No excuses. And the female eleves are admitting that they cannot do this--again, see the quotation Lydia provides.

I have no doubt that these eleves are not only better riders than I am (that would not be saying much) but better riders than I could ever have been. Good for them! I would be all in favor, as Tony says, of their flourishing in their own right. But the raison d'etre of the Spanische Hofreitschule is to preserve a noble tradition, unaltered, forever. Elisabeth Max-Theurer, herself an olympic gold medalist in dressage, understands this. But the manager who is breaking down that tradition does not.

Lisa, your comment shows quite a few confusions, which Tim and Tony have both pointed out. Here are a couple of others. You say that you are not a feminist, which you simply define as "thinking you are better than a man." That is not, in fact, all there is to feminism--to an ideology which has destroyed a great deal that is good in the West. For example, another aspect of feminism is a complete denial of the existence of such a thing to be valued as the aesthetic (or other) integrity of some human institution that could override the abstract value of bringing women into that particular institution. Feeding into this is an almost irresistible urge to break things down into little bits so that various ways in which women have to be accommodated and in which they change a particular institution can be said not to matter. (I'm reminded here, in a slightly different context, of the Supreme Court's ruling in a suit under the Americans with Disabilities Act that walking the course is not of the essence of golf.) In this case, this is exemplified by separating mounting from riding, for example, or living together from being riders together in the Riding School.

The entirely abstract notion of "justice" (quotation marks very deliberate) which drives feminism in this sense is profoundly destructive. It sees nothing whole, nothing good, which is so good that it should be left as it is if that means "without women." Any organization where some women in some abstract sense "could do" the things, or even some of the things, involved in what is viewed as the "real core" of the institution _must_ begin bringing women on board. The results have been disastrous--the military and police forces come to mind as even more shocking and urgent examples than the Riding School.

In the case of the Riding School, you are unfortunately too busy taking my post personally (potshots?) to be able to see the deep sadness of what has happened here. Indeed, you do not even seem to have noticed the significance of what I discovered and posted from the German article, above: So determined was this new manager to force the school to accept women that she bypassed the Bereiter and selected the female eleves herself! A manager. Not one of the senior riders. Possibly, for all we can tell, not even a dressage rider at all, and certainly not a professional dressage rider. This is serious stuff from the perspective of the integrity of the school. The entire school has been based on the notion of apprenticeship--the older and more experienced bringing on-board a small number of the younger and inexperienced, whom they choose on the basis of their own perception of their potential, and passing on the torch to them in their training. That has now been broken down. That is alarming from the very perspective of the quality of the riding itself.

In fact, my post and comments here were intended to show the concrete destructive force of the abstract feminism at work. This isn't just anti-feminist theory: The admission of women here _has already_ harmed the Riding School.

What this has to do with women's doing or teaching philosophy is rather difficult to discern. I suppose I can imagine some (now unusual) situation in which there was a male-only school--perhaps, say, a Catholic boys' high school boarding school--which had philosophy classes but hired only women for them (and for teaching its other classes as well). But again, this would be a matter of the institutional integrity of the school and its intent to be a place specifically for the growth of young men with male mentors, where all the teachers potentially played that general life-mentoring role.

But the field of philosophy, like the field of dressage riding, is not the sort of thing that has that sort of specific focus and meaning such that it is harmed by the insistence that women be included. Indeed, your indignant references to yourself and your teachers as excellent dressage riders seem to indicate, again, haste and ignoring what I have said in the main post itself, most explicitly, about the excellence of women in dressage. I find it slightly difficult to imagine any real-world situation in which women should not or could not teach philosophy. I suppose if it had happened that all philosophy previously were done by cloistered monks or in colleges where the celibate male faculty lived together, then women who wanted to do philosophy would have to do so with the help of tutors and books and start separate institutions. That would be possible and has, indeed, been done (as in the case of Oxford and women's colleges). But that, obviously, has nothing to do with the present situation in the discipline or in any other purely academic discipline.

Sorry, I'll delete the post.


alright, you delete it.


No, the discussion has brought out some of the issues here well, especially in the responses that several of us have put time into.

Excellent points, Lydia. And it is worth noting that this kind of "wrecking ball" feminism is not, primarily, about making sure that women have access to certain social goods. Take the case of the Augusta National. The fact that this one institution has male only membership requirements does not, in any meaningful way, deprive women of access to golf clubs. There are thousands of golf clubs throughout the country which women can join and participate in. So it is very difficult to see that many women are "harmed" by the Augusta National policy or deprived of access to some social good. Rather, the very fact that a non-feminist institution has the nerve to *exist* is what incenses them. It is just one more example of the fact that egalitarian liberalism is at bottom a totalitarian ideology that will not rest until it has either destroyed, ruined, or fundamentally altered every institution in society.

Rather, the very fact that a non-feminist institution has the nerve to *exist* is what incenses them.

Bingo. And then they are enabled by a couple of other groups: a) People who think so shallowly about these things that just talking about "fairness" or something gets them on-board with the destruction, a destruction which they seem incapable even of understanding, b) people like Gurtler who think they can make money from the destruction.


Just the other day I was reading how the courts in California, with help from internal activists, forcibly feminized the Rotarians, the Jaycees, and other traditionally male organizations.

Are the Knights of Columbus and the Masons the only male fraternities left?

One of the sad consequences of this trend is that "gentlemen's club" now exists only as a euphemism for a low establishment.

It's amazing how fragile a tradition can be. All it takes is one determined generation to mess things up to the point that the old ways are nigh irrecoverable and even incomprehensible.

>>One of the sad consequences of this trend is that "gentlemen's club" now exists only as a euphemism for a low establishment.

Someone could write a great Chestertonian satire about a men's literary club, or even something like Wodehouse's Drones, which has to masquerade as a strip club in order to keep the feminist harpies and their do-gooding fellow travelers at bay.

That could be extremely funny...in a dark sort of way.

It's amazing how fragile a tradition can be. All it takes is one determined generation to mess things up to the point that the old ways are nigh irrecoverable and even incomprehensible.

That is absolutely right. The sheer amount of cultural destruction wrought by the liberal baby boomers and their progeny is almost unfathomable. They have managed to completely debase, destroy and ruin significant portions of our society within the span of a mere 50 years; an almost unparalleled "achievement" when considered from a world historical perspective.

If we allow that there are no differences between the sexes that are relevant to the exclusion of women from what we might call masculine activities or institutions that are traditionally 'occupied' only by men, then concern for tradition flies out of the window. And if women are denied entry to any citadel of masculinity, a cry of 'injustice' will be heard which is irresistible to the liberal sensibility.

Only sports which depend on physical prowess are immune from the 'entryism' of women - otherwise we'd have women pitching for the New York Yankees, and women competing against men at the Wimbledon tennis championships.

I wonder if these two young ladies golf? If so, perhaps they could do a double and fly over to the States to break the glass floor or wall whatever it is that protects male privilege at Augusta, Ga., home of the Masters and a bastion of male primitivism?
Oh the sheer fun of rubbing someone's nose in the wreck of a belief or time accepted practice, it gives one goosebumps.

Alex, I wouldn't count on the long-term immunity of sports that depend on physical prowess. We've seen a lot of nonsense in that regard. Even here, it's supposed to be simply overlooked that they need male colleagues' help to mount. In the military, things are even more ridiculous, with special allowances for the lack of female upper arm and upper body strength.

In high school sports, I don't know if you know this, but boys are forced to _wrestle_ with girls. A Christian boy recently had some kind of standoff with high school wrestling officials because he refused to wrestle with a girl. And what was the news story about? Whether this was going back to the supposed "bad old days" when girls didn't wrestle with boys.

I fully expect women to start trying out for, and clamoring for, spaces on men's sports teams - first in high school and college, then pros. The old nemesis Title 7 will rear its ugly head. The only think I can imagine that might make the feminazis pause is the prospect (which will follow soon after) of a man demanding entry on a college women's sports team where the college doesn't have that a men's team in that sport. Possibly, just maybe, the prospect of men taking over all the spots on women's teams might make them pause.

A couple days ago my son brought his new puppy over to the house. In the course of our visit we began discussing where dogs came from and this wonderful symbiosis we share with them. A little research to find some key scientific papers taught us that the dog came from the wolf in a process begun some 150,000 years or so ago. We marveled at that, that a wolf - so wild -could be tamed and turned into something so aligned with man.

Then we considered that perhaps the true marvel was not man taming the wolf, but man taming himself. We thought about how man loves to try new things and how over the course of human natural history a kind of sifting must have taken place so that what worked was kept and what did not was abandonded. Man came to understand his nature through a very difficult, life-or-death process.

Ackowledging this, in my view, is authentic conservatism which stands on a gold mine of human experience, understanding, and practical wisdom. When we see things like the Spanish riding school, what we see is not only a history and tradition that is a few hundred years old. We see man emergent from his pre-tamed past with all of the humanly natural parts and motions intact. We see man connected to his prehistoric roots by his nature, expressed during the times within he lives.

Liberals detest this and must upset it because it is not malleable and cannot be manipulated/exterpated by ideas. It has a concrete biological and historical component that just doesn't do. So in the end, rather than advancing man, the liberal regresses him, untames him in a thousand ways, thrusts him back into a state before recorded history in order to conquer him. It is stupidity of the highest order.

I'm not quite sure what it is that Lydia wants in this situation. Or what I ought to want. The school was facing closure from financial trouble. Someone stepped in to pay the bill and as usual as a patron they get to make demands of the people who they patronage. I don't think Lydia would want the state to have laws that mandated government to aid financially traditions that are dying from a lack of interest. Laws that protect traditions in these circumstances? So that sponsors were forced not to make demands for change in them? It seemed then that this school would simple wither. It was going to it seemed until this sponsor came along. One strange thing that bugged me was that Lydia seemed to try to both make the point that nobody is questioning their abilities as horse dressage, but then at the end of the article finishes off by arguing that they're also worse than men at it. That's a quibble though, not a big point.

The big point (I hope I can touch on them all, unless she'll accuse me of not getting it.. X_X) of the post was that the change done to that school was for the worse. I'm not sure what I feel about it personally. Until this article I didn't associate horse dressage with something exclusively male. I still don't and having not absorbed fiction in that area I don't have any emotional ties to it. The whole thing reminds me of the traditional Japanese theatre forms which are still mostly dominated by males. That came about from a historical restriction that banded women from participating in these things, and so men had to develop an entire artform of conveying feminine roles which has become an art in and of itself. To this day its believed by many japanese that no woman can adequately capture the special roles that these male actors perform in portraying women. There's no legal restrictions in place to protect it, and women have made some inroads into these traditional theatre forms which don't see much innovation. However it continues to be a male artform mostly, and it has that alluring artform to support. It stands on its own. I'm afraid I didn't develop those feelings for horse dressage schools. Maybe that's a historical accident on my part.

I struggle with personal feelings about this. On one hand I appreciate seeing historical reenactments and I'm a stickler for tradition, and despite the feminist in me I do prefer male priests. However its only a historical accident that Nöh and Kabuki theatre had a ban on women participating, and that's what's being propagated. It could have been otherwise, and there's few reasons other than tradition why it shouldn't. The accident resulted in an art that was formed by necessity rather than for the art itself. Its beautiful and unique, but so is plenty of other things and I still see men playing female roles on stage even today (especially in comedies). I'm deeply sympathetic to loss felt when old beautiful things are destroyed. I saw several great parks and fields give way to suburban development in my neighborhood. Not far from where I live there used to be a thousand year old tree that had been declared protected, but still didn't stop some numb skulled company from chopping off branches older than the constitution of the country they sat in.

Contra Alphonsus; Tradition for traditions sake? I don't think Lydia is making that point. Just because somethings old it doesn't have to be good. It just means its something that's still being done despite historical circumstances. "Conservatives prevent mistakes from being fixed, and liberals go out to make new ones" But something can be good without being politically correct and things don't have to be changed simple in that spirit. Did I get that right Lydia?

I wasn't sold on the horse dressage tradition in that school being particular salvage worthy, but I respect that some people will feel that and its up to them to support it. I wouldn't lend any of my dollars to the enterprise. However I agree that forcing them to change simple because someone wants women in there (for that sake alone) is a baaaad idea. But I won't hold up an artform that can't stand on its own legs.

The school was facing closure from financial trouble. Someone stepped in to pay the bill and as usual as a patron they get to make demands of the people who they patronage. I don't think Lydia would want the state to have laws that mandated government to aid financially traditions that are dying from a lack of interest. Laws that protect traditions in these circumstances? So that sponsors were forced not to make demands for change in them? It seemed then that this school would simple wither. It was going to it seemed until this sponsor came along.

Someone had the opportunity to agree or not agree to let Gurtler have this position at the school. That might have been the board, for example. In fact, I assume it was. I would have wanted the board to check into what Gurtler intended to do and refuse to hand over the school to her once they found this out. Or, if there was some system of checks and balances, to vote against her when she proposed it.

I find it difficult to believe that she was the only person on the entire globe who was interested in being a patron to the school or who could have taken the managerial position. And indeed a patron doesn't have to be a manager. The board (or whoever it was) should have continued the search for patrons--perhaps multiple patrons--who had more respect than she does for the tradition of the school. I think it would have been possible to find them.

And, yes, sometimes it's necessary to risk everything in order to maintain the integrity of what one is and what an institution is, to be true to the nature of a thing rather than having it continue under the same name with a radically changed nature.

A Paypal button on the web site (which I don't think exists, from what I've seen) would have been far less of a problem for the nature of the school itself than women in the school.

What about fundraising by having a retired rider, someone who knows the school, go around at least Europe and possibly the U.S. as well giving lectures on dressage?

There are ideas that wouldn't have compromised the schools longstanding traditions that, as far as I know, haven't been tried.

One strange thing that bugged me was that Lydia seemed to try to both make the point that nobody is questioning their abilities as horse dressage, but then at the end of the article finishes off by arguing that they're also worse than men at it. That's a quibble though, not a big point.

These particular girls may have been excellent riders, and I assume were, but by their own admission are not as good at the entire suite of gymnastic skills, including mounting from the ground without the aid of stirrups, as males of a comparable degree of physical fitness/training, etc. (By the way, I'm not going to take the time to look it up, but I recall years ago browsing the web site and finding a place where they talked to prospective eleves and said that general gymnastic training was even better as preparation than riding training, since they have their own ideas about riding and didn't want to have to undo other training that might have been based on different principles. Now, there is a reason why men and women gymnasts in the Olympics do not have mixed-gender competition.)

I think, too, that you aren't taking into account what I consider to be highly plausible--namely, that while individual women have been excellent riders, _on average_ there are going to be more men who are excellent at this type of riding than women. (There are other things like this in the world, even non-physical things. Chess comes to mind. There are outstanding women chess players, but believe me, the entire feminist chess world wastes large quantities of time puzzling over the strange fact that on average there aren't as many women at the very highest levels of chess as men. I speak as someone with chess-playing daughters.) So, yes, I do consider four out of five of the eleves being women to be highly suspicious.

And of course once I realized from the German article that Gurtler, who is not one of the riders but rather a manager, chose the initial female eleves herself and might well be continuing to throw her clout around in this fashion, no further explanation was needed. Which is sad from the perspective of quality.

Until this article I didn't associate horse dressage with something exclusively male.

Neither do I. I associate *this school* with something exclusively male. Which it actually was until 2008.

Did you even notice the whole apprenticeship-cum-living-arrangement point I made, by the way?

I still don't and having not absorbed fiction in that area I don't have any emotional ties to it.

Let me clarify: I also own several non-fiction books by the late, great Alois Podhajsky, former head of the school, about the Riding School.

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