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Student life on horseback

2013-10-21

The drawing shows a riding lesson from 1839.

The second oldest organised riding institution, after the Spanish Riding School in Vienna, can be found at Uppsala University. In the autumn it celebrates 350 years - and even today, many students ride at the Uppsala Akademistall.

In 1663 riding was a sport for nobles and military officers and one of several skill subjects, also known as exercitia, for Uppsala students. Nowadays riding is a hobby for many, but the link to the University remains at Uppsala Akademistall in Kvarnbo outside of Uppsala.

Scholarships are awarded to students who are good riders. In time for the 350th anniversary, four new riding scholarships have been started, so from the autumn 10 scholarships will be awarded each semester. This entitles the student to ride free of charge twice a week for 16 weeks, which corresponds to about SEK 7,000.

“We are very pleased to be able to award scholarships. Those who receive one are usually very pleased,” says Karin Agenäs, who is the Academy Equerry.

In order to receive a scholarship requires both proven study and equestrian merits, for example, certificates from riding instructors or competitive merits.

“We then make an appraisal, where it is not enough with top grades as a student or good results as a rider, here both are required,” says the university's inspector Marianne Andersson.

At Uppsala Akademistall there are approximately 40 horses, of which 23 participate in the riding school’s activities. The riding school is open to all Uppsala residents, but most riders here are adults.

“It is a great honour for us to be linked to the university, we have found our own niche. We have almost no juniors and our riders are a little better at riding than average,” says Karin Agenäs.

“The teaching here should suit young riders who want to be active. It is wonderful to be able to bandy with the pupils. It's not so much commands, no more than safety requires.”

It was different 50 years ago when the connection to the military was strong. The first 20 academy equerries were military personnel and at the end of the 19th century and the first half of the 20th activities were run in cooperation with the military.

Marianne Andersson remembers when she started riding at Akademistall as a student.

“The teaching then was purely military and was based on being on the battlefield. There was an iron discipline that was extremely severe,” she says with a smile.

The link between riding and academic studies is perhaps even more obvious today when riding is the second most popular sport in Sweden after football.

“For the students, riding is a way to meet and socialise while studying - an alternative to student clubs and parties,” says Marianne Andersson.

Even students from other countries have found their way here. Previously students from Canada, Austria and France have all been awarded scholarships.

“Usually they learn Swedish quickly in the stable environment,” says Karin Agenäs.

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FACTS/Riding for 350 years

Jubilee book “On horseback. Riding lessons at Uppsala University 350 years” can be ordered from info@uark.se or acta@ub.uu.se

Academic riding school

Riding school activities have been run since 1978 by Upplands-Västmanlands fältrittklubb. The academic riding institution consists of Inspector Equitandi, Academy Equerry as well as staff and students at Uppsala University, who practice horse riding.