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Portugal Dressage Vacations Portugal
Work on your dressage skills in Portugal! This dressage riding school has been in operation for over 30 years and is steeped in the classical horsemanship tradition. Beginning and experienced riders have the opportunity to experience the renowned Portuguese pure-bred Lusitano horse and classical equitation in the spirit of the grand masters. Top riders and horses from all over the world train at The Riding School of Alcainça. Located on a family-owned country estate, this world-renowned riding school for top-level dressage tuition gets you in the saddle on majestic pure-bred Lusitano horses.
Three top instructors teach students dressage, including Georges Malleroni, who was a student in classical dressage of the “Haute Ecole” under Nuno Oliveira, the great Portuguese Master and one of the best world Masters (deceased). Horses have been trained to a medium dressage standard and are able to do Shoulder In, Half Pass, Flying Changes, Piaffe and Passage. Train up to twice a day with expert and multilingual dressage instructors in the indoor or outdoor arenas on the estate. Portugal has a very long tradition in horse breeding and equitation and the Lusitano horse is a living treasure of Portuguese culture.
Located just 40 minutes outside of Lisbon in the village of Alcainça near the national park of Mafra, this riding vacation destination has a great location for exploring nearby Lisbon before or after your trip. Portugal is a true gem for travelers. The Atlantic Ocean on the west coast helps assure a nice, even temperature throughout the year so that even in July and August it never gets too hot. Add to this the incredible beauty of Lisbon, Sintra, Estoril and other areas you have an ideal vacation land.
This trip is good for riders and their non-riding companions, as you can book the amount of time you would like in the saddle, so if you'd like to ride in the morning while your non-riding companion relaxes by the pool and then sightsee together in the afternoon, this is more than possible. Where you stay in the village of Alcainça lies about 15 miles (25 kms) Northwest of Lisbon, 3 miles (5 kms) from the famous National Park Mafra and 9 miles (15 kms) from the Atlantic Coast. For optimal sightseeing at your leisure, renting a car is recommended. Alternatively a driver is available for an extra charge to take you to places of interest such as Lisbon, Mafra or the Portuguese School of Equestrian Art in Queluz.
Pack what you'd normally wear in your lessons at home or when riding at home. We recommend paddocks and half chaps, as they are easier to pack, but bring your high boots if you'd like. A riding helmet is required.
This part of Portugal is warm and dry for most of the year. In July and August, temperatues can rise into the 80's, but being close to the Atlantic means it's normally okay for riding. Bring layers and rain gear if you travel from October to March, the wettest and coolest months..
About the Horses
RIde Portuguese pure-bred and part-bred Lusitano horses, mostly stallions. This riding school's horses have a medium dressage standard and are able to do Shoulder In; Half Pass; Flying Changes; Piaffe and Passage.
Lusitanos, which come from the same origin as the Andalusians, can be considered as some of the finest horses in Europe.
In addition to dressage and trail riding, special experiences can be requested, including to the Portugal Lusitano breeding farms, the Golegã Horse Fair and the National Portuguese Riding School.
Set on a hill-side, Escola de Equitaçao de Alcainça was originally built as traditional “Quinta”, a Portuguese country estate, complete with stables, indoor and outdoor schools, as well as an antique bullfighting arena which is nowadays used for traditional working equitation sessions or as a turnout for the horses.
Guests stay steps away from the riding school and stables in a simple and clean guesthouse with four double rooms with private bathrooms and air conditioning or in accommodations located beside the center also with three double rooms with two individual baths. On site, travelers can gather in the living room, a large gathering room, an unheated swimming pool, an indoor riding arena and an outdoor (65 x 25 [m]) riding arena (half covered), a bullfight ring and a little chapel.
A pool, overlooking the bullfight arena and the outdoor school, provides a pleasant and refreshing diversion after riding. All of the school horses are regularly turned out in paddocks and enjoy the sun just as our guests do at the pool!
Meals are served in a dining room overlooking the indoor arena and complete with satellite TV. There is a bar and water, juice, tea, and table wine are included in your riding holiday.
Homemade Portuguese meals are served daily in the dining room overlooking the indoor riding school. Chef Lena chef cooks all meals with healthy, fresh and mostly organic ingredients, and takes great pleasure in discussing her various recipes and traditional Portuguese cooking. Chef Lena also cooks delicious vegetarian meals. Please let us know if you have any special dietary requirements or allergies.
Our Riders Lounge offers a quiet place to relax - next to an open fire in the winter - after a busy day of riding. Enjoy a glass of wine, a game of pool, or simply a good book and listen to the sounds of horses and rural countryside.
A continental breakfast may include local bread, jams, cheese, cereal, seasonal fruit, orange juice, tea and coffee.
A 2-course lunch with a meat/fish dish may also include salad, fruit, house wines, water, coffee or tea.
A 3-course dinner may include soup, a meat/fish dish, dessert, house wines, water, coffee or tea.
The Ideal Traveler
Riders who want to better their dressage skills in a lovely setting in Europe. Riders should be confident in all three gaits (walk, trot and canter) and understand the basics of dressage.
These riding vacations can be tailored to the amount of time you'd like to ride each day and the number of days you'd like to stay. These vacations are available year-round, including over the holidays and you may arrive or depart on any day. Some suggested weeks include:
$1715 USD* per person double occupancy for either 1 Week: 8 days, 7 nights with 7 days of riding lessons (2 riding lessons per day for a total of three hours) OR the Working Equitation theme week, outlined below.
$1598 USD* per person double occupancy for either 1 Week: 8 days, 7 nights with 6 days of riding lessons (2 riding lessons per day for a total of three hours)
Non-Riders Price $892 USD* for 8 days/ 7 nights
Low Season Discounts: Special discount of 10% for riders during the months of November and December. Special discount of 20% for riders during the months of January and February.
* Prices shown are subject to exchange rate fluctuations. Includes full board.
Included: Full board, which includes lodging, meals and table wine, water, juice and tea. Accommodation in a double room. Transfer to the visit to a Stud Farm. Riding instruction on school horses according to the special program (max. 2 riders per session) · Practical instruction in breeding, tack and other elements.
Transfers: from Lisbon airport cost approximately $49 per vehicle each way and $52 from Lisbon city. The "Meeting Point" at the Lisbon Airport is near the Tourism Information desk, on the arrivals area.
Note on Instruction
· Portuguese Equitation and Working Equitation classes are taught by instructor João Batalha who has been competing in these disciplines with some of the school horses you'll ride.
· A maximum of 2 riders per group ensures instruction on an individual level which will allow you to benefit most from your lessons at Escola de Equitaçao de Alcainça. The lessons are taught in English.
· A good basic riding level is required to participate. Riders shall be confident in all three gaits (walk, trot and canter) and understand the basics of dressage.
· Traditional Portuguese tack will be used for all riding instruction on our school horses.
Notes on the regular trip itinerary
Prior to your first lesson you will have the chance to talk with your instructor about what you are currently doing and what you hope to achieve from the holiday and your courses. An interest in dressage is important on this holiday; you will need to be willing to learn from the experienced instructors to get the most out of your holiday. Riders should be balanced and independent at walk, trot and canter, and it is an advantage to know the basic lateral movements such as shoulder-in and half-pass.
Following an individual rider assessment, riders are divided into groups of 1-3 according to their riding ability and experience, in order to ensure every student receives proper individual attention from the instructor.
Instructors are multilingual and teach in English, French, Portuguese, Italian, Spanish, as well as a smattering of basic riding Japanese! Riders benefit from both experienced schoolmasters and professional trainers.
Our lessons take as long as the rider needs to achieve the particular goal for the lesson. In general, the group lessons are about 90 minutes long, with the individual lessons a bit shorter. This format of intensive interaction between riders and instructors delivers productive and valuable learning.
Depending on the aims and goals of the rider, we hold lessons in:
- Classical dressage
- Working equitation (for more details see separate section)
- Work on the lunge
If you are staying a week, you may want to take one day out of the saddle to enjoy sightseeing.
If you are travelling with a non-rider, then you may wish to pre-book just one lesson a day which leaves more time to relax by the pool, watch horses and riders in training or to go on sightseeing trips. A trip to Lisbon or the beach from Escola de Equitaçao de Alcainça only takes 30 minutes.
Special Program - Working Equitation Sample Itinerary*
Portugal has a very long tradition in horse breeding and equitation. The Lusitano horse is a living treasure. Portuguese Equitation and Working Equitation are two disciplines that have been practiced in Portugal for centuries, proving the functionality and rideability of Lusitano horses as working horses.
During this special week with the Working Equitation theme, guests will learn more about these two disciplines and practice on our school horses.
Meet & Greet. We recommend you arrive on your first day by early afternoon so that you are in time for your first lesson. The latest arrival time is 6pm, so that you have time to meet with your instructors on the first day. Have your first dressage lesson in the afternoon
Get an introdution to tacking up horses the traditional way in Portugal, compete with Portuguese tack. Enjoy a lesson in Portuguese Equitation and dressage in the morning and afternoon. During your week, the goal will be learn the art of riding in harmony with your horse.
Riding lesson in Portuguese Equitation and dressage in the morning. Working Equitation session in the afternoon (introduction) (approx. 60 min)
Visit to a Saddlery
Visit to a Stud Farm (“Coudelaria”) dedicated to breeding Lusitano Horses.
Riding lesson in Portuguese Equitation and dressage in the morning.
Working Equitation (Maneability) Session in the afternoon (approx. 60 min)
Riding lesson in Portuguese Equitation and dressage in the morning
Afternoon hack amid the local countryside for approx. 60 min OR Working Equitation (Maneability) session in the afternoon (approx. 60 min).
Riding lesson in Portuguese Equitation and dressage in the morning.
Working Equitation (Maneability) session in the afternoon (approx. 60 min)
* The above is a sample itinerary. It is subject to changes based on the weather and the trip guide’s discretion.
Related Travel Articles
My visit to Alcainca was a true learning experience. The dressage training gave me the opportunity to continue my development and I particularly enjoyed the quality and excellent training of the horses that I rode. I had the opportunity to ride several different horses, but enjoyed Burladero and Salino the most. Both horses taught me how best to achieve particular movements by making sure that I was in the best position to make them happen.
The cooking was outstanding. Chef Lena takes great pride in her cooking and with good reason. She checked to make sure if there were any particular dietary requirements. All of the meals were delicious and healthy (well, there were some fabulous desserts.
The lodgings are not luxurious, but absolutely comfortable and appropriate for the type of stay.
Joan David, Texas, USA
Had the most wonderful experience in my life the week I spent there. Was with Sherry Ackerman and 8 other fantastic riders. I learned more in one week than I have learned here in 2 years. I can't wait to come back and this time work with Paulo!!
Martha Pirnie, Houston, Texas, USA
What an absolutely amazing experience! The people were so incredibly welcoming and knowledgeable, my trip exceeded ALL of my expectations. Thank you Paulo and Georges for sharing your knowledge and expertise - I learned so much in my short time there that I am already planning my next visit. Everyone who rides, no matter the discipline, need to visit and learn on some of the most beautiful horses in the world.
Kylie Enns, Ontario, Canada
Good Books for Horse Lovers and Equestrians
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The Horse: A Miscellany of Equine Knowledge (Hardcover) by Julie Whitaker with Ian Whitelaw
The Horse is an informative gallop through everything to do with the horse: evolution, history, biology, breeds, behavior, training, competition, health, and care—all gathered into an accessible gallery of solid information, essential facts, and fascinating trivia.
Hunter Seat Equitation (Hardcover) by George H. Morris
A classic by a world-renowned teacher and master equestrian--the definitive work on the art of teaching and riding the hunter seat, now updated to include refinements in Morris's insightful program of riding instruction.
The New Encyclopedia of the Horse (Hardcover) by Elwyn Hartley Edwards
Chronicling the history of the horse, this guide encompasses the early domestication of the horse, classical riding styles, as well as a survey of the great stud farms and current international sporting events.
Learn dressage from the masters in Portugal. Vacations can be catered to beginning or advanced riders.
About 15 miles (25 kms) Northwest of Lisbon in the heart of the rural village Alcainça
Trip Itineraries, Dates & Rates
Check out suggested packages at this year-round riding destination.
Group Bookings (minimum stay of 5 nights) enjoy a free spot for the group leader for a group from 7 persons (eg. 6 people paying in full, then 7th person is free). Ask us about special discounts for bookings of 10 nights (not combinable with other special offers).
Lisbon International Airport
Transfers are available from the Lisbon Airport with prior requests. The meeting point is near the Tourism Information desk, in the arrivals area. The riding center is about 30 minutes from the airport.
Riding Style/ Ability
A good basic riding level is required to participate in these dressage riding vacations. Riders shall be confident in all three gaits (walk, trot and canter) and understand the basics of dressage.
Open all year and since there are covered arenas, even in July and August it never gets too hot. You can arrive and depart on any day. Open over Christmas and New Year, except no riding on the afternoon of 24 December, on 25 December and 1 January. Consider timing your dressage vacation with the Golega Horse Fair in early November.
maximum of 10 riders at the same time.