Horsing About in Vienna..


A Strauss waltz plays unobtrusively in the background. Tourists drift onto the grand, stone-balustraded balconies; horses trot elegantly through the sawdust below, their riders sitting regally astride in brass-buttoned tunics.

‘Stallions, Barn, not horses,’ corrects Crazy Sandra. ‘The ones when they have a shot and it doesn’t work.’ She is pressing her hands together, colouring with girlish gaiety as she attempts to describe equine castration. Racking her German brain for English vocabulary, she tries again.

‘When the man goes on the girl, nothing happen. Come out nothing.’ Ah, gelded.  Think charades – without words, how would you portray a stallion failing to ejaculate? Tricky? Well done if you’re at least privately attempting it.

Four-legged ballet


This morning, should you be fogged to the core, we are at the Spanish Riding School in Vienna, watching the Morning Exercise. Beneath magnificent chandeliers, Lipizzaner stallions practise circling and dancing to Schubert, Mozart and Strauss. None of your piebald ponies here, thanks very much. All frightfully twee – interrupted cadences and the occasional ritenuto in the woodwind maintain the adrenaline, but I’d argue that two hours is more than enough. P1090860

How do they do it, though? I mean, I understand steering horses with reins, but there are funky dressage moves mixed in here. Assuming that these animals don’t speak English – or German, given we’re in Austria – how do they know when to faultlessly bend forelegs, simply prance, or point perpendicular hooves as if ballet dancers? Perhaps there is an ingenious system: a different coloured biscuit for each manoeuvre, stealthily stashed in the rider’s tailcoat.

Anyway, here we are, bourgeois patrons of the arts, touching our forelocks and enjoying the spectacle. The “Dung Man”, until now hovering in the doorway, shuffles into the arena with a shovel as a snow-white creature deposits a little something. The rider, in a funny, stiff-eared hat, continues without a backward glance.

Queen Sandra


Richly attired – in jeans and stout shoes, no less – Crazy Sandra presides over the entertainment below, like a modern day Eleanor of Aquitaine. Granted, Sandra has been neither Queen of England nor Queen of France, but she echoes some of that free-spirited lady’s traits.

P1090852Hampered by ecclesiastical canon? Hardly, no. Posh? Not even close. Forthright and indecorous, then? Yep, that’s more like it. Crazy Sandra whispers in my ear, bringing us neatly back to genitals. ‘I am disgusting,’ she declares, ‘But cum is very good for the skin. Also, I think these stallions would prefer Metallica to Strauss.’

At least she got the first bit right..

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