The Spanish Riding School of Vienna

Birmingham NEC Arena

It may have its Bull Ring, but tonight Birmingham plays host to a considerably more refined four-legged beast. For the first time, the Spanish Riding School of Vienna is bringing its "dancing white stallions" to the NEC.

Astride their small but remarkably powerful Lippizaners, the frock-coated riders draw on the School's 400-year history to perform a remarkable display of canters, leaps and dances. Adding to the occasion will be the Drum Horse and State Trumpeters of the Household Cavalry and the Band of the Blues and Royals, who will introduce the horses to the arena. The School's equine techniques have essentially remained unchanged for 200 years.

Over the 10 years it takes to train a Lippizzaner, the horse will master the dressage and gymnastic combat manoeuvres that make up the show. At the start of each show the riders still raise their bicorn hats in honour of their founder. Less charming is the tradition which insists that both rider and horse are male.

Mike Higgins

8pm. To Sun (Sun 3pm) Birmingham NEC Arena. Tickets: pounds 8-pounds 58. Information: 0121-767 4200

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