As masters of the Lipizzaners, the world's most distinguished horse breed, the Spanish Riding School in Vienna celebrates its 450th anniversary with gala performances and a glittering summer ball this weekend.
First founded in 1565, the classical dressage institution has become globally renowned for its noble white stallions which, guided by straight-backed riders in tailcoats, canter and pirouette to the sound of music.
To mark the anniversary, two dozen Lipizzaners will demonstrate their stylised jumps and other perfectly controlled movements on Friday and Saturday in front of the old imperial Hofburg Palace, in the heart of the Austrian capital.
Spain's Royal Andalusian School of Equestrian Art will share the limelight and partake in the evening parades.
Austrian President Heinz Fischer, who attended Thursday's rehearsal performance, said he was "smitten" by the horses.
"I think there are several institutions in Austria, which mean everything to Austrians. Among them is the Spanish Riding School," he said.
Friday's spectacle will be crowned by the so-called Fete Imperiale, the riding school's traditional summer ball and a highlight on the social calendar of Vienna's high society.
At least 10,000 visitors are expected to attend the anniversary celebrations, which will also feature broodmares and their foals.
The Lipizzan lineage dates back to the 16th century, when it was developed exclusively by Habsburg monarchy.
The breed is a cross between Spanish, Arabic and Berber horses.
Estimates put the number of Lipizzaners worldwide at less than 3,000.