Association Internationale d'Attelage de Tradition
The 2017 AIAT AGM in Copenhague by Richard JAMES (GB)
The initials “AGM” often creates an immediate “turn off”. Not when it’s an AIAT AGM involving a weekend at a special location, in the company of a friendly and enthusiastic group of folks and organised by the Selskab for Traditionnel Hestevognskorsel I Danmark lead by Henrik Koier-Andersen.
This was the case in the first weekend of February when delegates from the 14 nation family of the Association International d’Attelage de Tradition met in the royal historical city of Copenhagen Denmark. The 91 traditional carriage driving enthusiasts centred on the Phoenix Hotel, in the town centre, on Friday evening, to renew acquaintances, meet new friends and enjoy a welcoming buffet and drinks. The talking and camaraderie continued into the early hours!
Saturday was a typical cold Danish February morning, not so in the mind of the delegates who enjoyed a fascinating visit to the Danish Royal Stables at Christiansborg, directed by the Danish Crown Equerry, Mr Per Thuesen. This is one of the few remaining working stables in Europe, and the home of the Danish Royal Kladruber State horses. The tour included a visit to the magnificent Royal indoor riding school built on the style of the Spanish Riding School’s riding hall. Then invigorated by very generous glasses of appropriate spirits the judges and technical delegates were put to work while the ladies were given a tour of the stunning Christriansborg Palace.
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Harmuth Huber's impressions of AIAT AGM 2017 in Copenhague
Carriage and horses enthusiasts at Christiansborg Castle
Around 3 degrees centigrade and fog was just the kind of weather suitable for a sleigh ride. However, there was no snow in Copenhagen. Braving the elements but resisting the temptation to shiver, the AIAT judges assessed 23 turnouts whose drivers had been invited by Henrik Koier-Andersen, the very competent organizer of the meeting, to appear in front of Christiansborg Castle for this very purpose. And they bravely did so, after which the judges fled to the warmth of the castle’s stables.
The judging and the tour of the stables and indoor riding school was watched with interest by H. R. H. Prince Henrik, prince consort of Queen Margarethe II. of Denmark. It may be that his particular interest arises from his family history. The Prince, née Count Laborde de Monpezat, himself a celebrated sculptor, is a descendant of Henri Auguste d’Ainecy comte de Monpezat who was a famous and passionate gentleman driver and painter. He left us many fine paintings of accomplished gentlemanly turnouts, presumably from his own stables and coachhouse
Everybody was glad to be able to withdraw to the stables and was most impressed by the high vaults of the stables, resting on 76 columns of Norwegian marble. They are well designed in the style of mid 18th century guaranteeing good ventilation, which is important for the horses. (The Crown Equerry had demanded the marble columns, as the horses tended to kick sharp fragments out of brick pillars.) The stables used to house up to 250 horses at one time, today stabling is required for some 13 greys only, bred in Kladruby, in the Czech Republic. Although daily exercise is compulsory, many of the beautifully designed historic stalls have been converted to loose boxes to comply with animal welfare regulations. Therefore, the stables offer much additional space now, which is used to store the historic royal carriages.
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