Karl Mikolka, former Chief Rider of Spanish Riding School, Trainer of Classical Dressage in USA–1935-2019

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Karl Mikolka.

May 14, 2019

Karl Mikolka, the former Chief Rider of the Spanish Riding School in Vienna and a teacher of classical dressage in the Americas, has died at the age of 83 after a decade-long battle with an aggressive form of non-hodgkins cancer.

Born in Vienna in 1935 as Austria was heading into World War II and then a divided city at its end, Karl took his first job at the age of 15 at a harness racetrack and his first riding lesson the same year.

He was accepted into the Spanish Riding School at 19 as an elévé, the lowest rank of rider-employee. Within five years, he was promoted to assistant rider and eventually achieved the rank of Oberreiter, or Chief Rider, in 1967.

Karl left the school in 1968 to accept an invitation by the Confederação Brasileira de Hipismoin Brazil to create a nucleus of dressage in Rio de Janeiro and Sao Paulo with the goal to eventually put a team together that could show in Europe.

In 1972, he fulfilled his dream of moving to the United States, to Friar’s Gate Farm in Pembroke, Massachusetts. He founded the Massachusetts Dressage Academy to provide a systematic educational dressage curriculum. By the mid 1970s, he was a nationally accredited judge and was on judging panels of several Olympic selection trials.

Karl moved to Wadsworth, Illinois in 1980 to join Tempel Farms to help create an American Spanish Riding School that had been the dream of founder Tempel Smith, a wealthy industrialist.

Karl relocated with his wife, Lynn to Gloucester, Massachusetts where he taught classical dressage–studying and finding the best simple and natural ways to elevate the horse to the definitive equestrian athlete, thinking partner, friend and reliable companion through mental and physical education.