Monday, December 10, 2012

Reviews to come!

Watch out for the following reviews in the weeks to come:

  • Bali Island Horse (review 2) and Kuda P Stables in Bali, Indonesia
  • Grampians Horse Riding in Victoria, Australia
  • Arthayasa Stables in Jakarta, Indonesia

Tuesday, July 31, 2012

A Week In Portugal 2010

What a crazy number of years! I hadn't realised that this trip happened so long ago until I looked at the dates again. I promised myself I'd have the review up and running but I guess I was distracted. Portugal itself was a beautiful country but we're here about the horses so...

Portugal - December 2010
After seven days of intense training, we had done more dressage movements than we ever had in our lives. We were at the Escola Equitacao de Alcainca – a riding school dedicated to classical dressage located in a small village in Portugal. The owner of the school is Georges Malleroni – in his biography on Hidden Trails he is written up as a student of classical dressage master Nuno Oliveira. We were mainly tutored by Paulo who seems to have been with the school for quite a while. Our daily lessons were filled with his exhortations as he pushed us and our horses into movement after movement.
Shoulder-in, shoulder-out, piaffe, passage, travers, renvers, flying changes – we did them all under their tutelage and on the backs of the most beautifully trained Lusitano horses. We wouldn't even have thought of doing these kinds of movements under ordinary circumstances in Singapore! The quality of the horses and their training is very apparent.

We started riding on the older and more experienced stallions, but eventually, Rufiao (Ruffian) and Vingador (Avenger) became our favourites. There is no doubt that the instructors know what they’re
about and there is a high quality of instruction. We were not the only overseas visitors taking advantage of it either – while we were there we encountered a lovely lady from Japan who was there on her own, as well as two people from France.

Vingador the horse with Dickie the dog.

We had two lessons every day. Once in the morning after breakfast and once in the late afternoon. We rented a car and raced around doing some quick sightseeing each day in between lessons. The lessons are one and a half hours long and you truly realise how short our forty five minute lessons in Singapore are after that, and how fit their horses are! Every lesson started with a warm up, followed by exercises in walk, trot and then some canter and it was far from boring. On one of our first lessons, I did some rearing (I like to think it was close to a levade :)  - description found here: Airs above the ground) on one of their most experienced stallions – Napolitano. In our later lessons, we began to try the movements in canter! We also had the opportunity to ride out into the countryside. The school not only gives riding instruction, it also breeds horses and there were some very sweet foals. 

Accommodation is a pretty little cottage extension that looks out onto the stables, nicely appointed and cleaned every day. Meals are hearty and homey - cooked by their lovely housekeeper who kept our bellies full every day and always accompanied with carafes of wine. The experience was such that we’re already making plans to return someday. Till then, we’ll have to sustain ourselves with the memories of classical dressage on those gorgeous horses.

We booked our riding through Hidden Trails but you can also contact the school directly.
Their Facebook Page: Escola Equitacao de Alcainca