Sisi and her passion for dogs and horses

Sisi's amazing Journey - Österreichs legendäre Kaiserin Sisi

Where did Elisabeth live out her passion for horseback riding? What happened in Normandy in September 1875? Why did she give up horseback riding? Then what followed? What were your favorite dogs?

Sisi has had a special passion for horses and equestrian sports since childhood. She was highly sensitive and had a special feeling for horses . Sisi loved dressage and hunting trips with challenging cross-country jumps . Sitting side-saddle, she won all tournaments in Europe and was considered one of the best riders in Europe.

Today we would call her a top athlete . Because of her perseverance and willingness to take risks , she was very successful. She was willing to invest a lot in horseback riding. In addition, she bought new horses, the best and most expensive that could be found in Austria-Hungary. She was considered the best rider in Europe and was always surrounded by a crowd of admirers.

When rheumatic complaints increased and critical reports about her appeared in the English media in 1882, she suddenly gave up hunting on horseback. She sold all the horses from her English stables.

In order to live out their urge to move, forced marches of 10 km and more daily were announced in the future . Much to the chagrin of her ladies-in-waiting, because according to the protocol they had to accompany Sisi, but could not keep up.

Sisi on one of her favorite horses, the thoroughbred gelding Merry Andrew

Sisi always rode side-saddle

In later years she always had a fan with her

Serious riding accident in Normandy

Sept 1875 – Serious riding accident in Normandy

When Sisi was no longer satisfied with horseback riding on the Hungarian plains, she turned to fox hunting in England. For this she practiced show jumping for several hours a day in the Freudenau in Vienna . At full gallop she glided over high obstacles and had many spectators.

In preparation she preferred Normandy, where she had rented the French chateau Sassetot . A serious riding accident happened there in September 1875 , where she was briefly unconscious. Nevertheless, she did not give up and continued to train.

Her hunting trips took her to England and Ireland. Her horsemanship was greatly admired. Her official companion was Bay Middleton, the best huntsman at the time. A deep friendship developed between the two. Some thought there was more, even her own sister Marie spread rumors about it, which caused her to fall out with her.

When Middleton married his longtime fiancé, he could no longer accompany Sisi. Sisi finally gave up horseback riding in 1882 for health reasons.



Sisi and her favorite dogs

Empress Elisabeth appreciated the dog as man’s best friend . She had a special fondness for big dogs. Once she is said to have said to her reader Ida Ferenczy : “I’m almost afraid a dog as big as I would like doesn’t even exist”.

Sisi with her gray mastiff

Empress Elisabeth with her black poodle named Plato

Empress Elisabeth with her wolfhound houseguard

Empress Elisabeth with St. Bernard dog

Tip from Sisi’s Amazing Journey: To indulge in equestrian sports in Vienna, a visit to the historic trotting facility in Krieau or the Freudenau racecourse, where Sisi once trained, is a good idea.

More information: Freudenau1 Wiener Trabrennverein – Trabrennpark Krieau – Homepage

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