Off White Horses: First Woman at Spanish Riding School Becomes Model

Ever wondered what happened to the two young women who were the first admitted to train at the Spanish Riding School in Vienna in 2009? Austrian Hannah Zeitlhofer is still there (judging by a photoshoot I saw in A Magazine in spring/summer 2010. Sojourner Morrell, the British-American teenager and youngest of the pair, left after less than a year. She is now a model. In this interview with Women’s Wear Daily she paints a rather uninspiring picture of the Spanish Riding School, which, rumour has it, only broke a 436-year tradition to let women in because it was anxious to receive European funding.


When [did you move abroad], and why?
I was 16. It was for horse riding. I first spent half a year in Germany with a school and then I left early. I dropped out between my junior and senior year but it didn’t matter in the end. I guess you can be a high school dropout and still go to NYU. So then I moved to Austria because I joined another riding school there. I did that for a year but it was too much.

How so?
It was a riding school academy, and it was like all old men. There were only 16 riders. Me and this other girl were the first girls to ever enroll. And I was the only foreigner. They were all from Vienna. And it wasn’t like they helped me acclimate or find an apartment or anything so I was sort of on my own.

Why did you want to go in the first place?
It’s the best. It’s like the epitome of riding, the highest level so how can I not try it? I never expected them to accept me.

How did it happen then?
I just wrote a letter to them and said, I know you don’t take women, but maybe I could come and ride for you? And then they wrote back to me and said, ‘Please come for an interview.’ So I went over, rode for them in this palace, and they were like, ‘We like you. Can you start tomorrow?’

She’s now a student at NYU.

Published by Susanna Forrest

Writer Amazons of Paris, The Age of the Horse and If Wishes Were Horses.

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    1. Oh man, I think I concur because at least the Lippizzaner would step on you accidentally (presumably), whereas the fashion houses probably figure its the price of being selected for fashion week….

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