Visit this world renowned riding school for top-level dressage tuition on majestic pure and part-bred Lusitano horses. Operating for over 30 years, Escola de Equitaçao de Alcainça welcomes riders from all over the world and offers classical dressage tuition for all riders; novice to experienced. The team of experienced, multi-lingual instructors will give guests an experience like no other, whether on a schoolmaster for the first time, or need to perfect the piaffe and passage, this is the place to do it!
Accommodation is on-site in four en-suite bedrooms with a further 3 bedrooms just across the road and close to the stables and horses. Even the dining room looks out over the indoor school! Non-riders are also welcome here and day trips can be organised to various places such as Lisbon, Sintra and the Portuguese School of Equestrian Art.
*Group booking discounts (minimum stay 5 nights)*
- Free group leader for a group of 7 people (pay for 6, 7th person is free)
- 60% discount for the group leader for a minimum of 5 people (pay for 5, 6th person has a 60% discount)
Please Note: The opinions expressed in these reviews are the author's and do not necessarily reflect the views of Unicorn Trails Ltd. These reviews are "directly from the horses mouth" and unedited. Unicorn Trails may make additional comments for clarification clearly identified in red.
Review received from FA of on 01/09/2023
There are two programmes available on this holiday. Lessons of no more than 3 riders are grouped according to ability and tend to last for around 90 minutes (or for as long as it takes for the rider to achieve their goal). Shorter, private lessons may be available with prior arrangement, please ask your Sales Consultant.
Prior to the first lesson riders will have the chance to talk with the instructor about what they are currently doing and what they hope to achieve from the holiday. An interest in dressage and a willingness to learn from the experienced instructors will give riders the most out of the holiday. Riders should be balanced and independent at walk, trot and canter. It would be an advantage to know the basic lateral movements such as shoulder-in and half-pass.
Morning lessons tend to start at 10am and afternoon lessons start at 3pm. Breakfast is 8:30-9am, lunch is 1pm and dinner is around 7:30-8pm. Please note there are no lessons on a Sunday except on occasional weeks listed in the departure dates.
Programme A - Intense
This option includes 2 x intense riding lessons per day, one in the morning and one in the afternoon. In between the lessons guests have time to relax at the pool or for an excursion. 3 hours riding.
Programme B - Moderate
This includes 1 x intense riding lesson per day in the morning or in the afternoon, allowing free time for guests to discover the Portuguese culture, the scenery or the beach during their stay at the Quinta. 1.5 hours riding.
Accompanying non-riders are also welcome at the Quinta and there is plenty to see and do in the area. Discounted non-rider rates are available.
The minimum riding age is 12-years-old andchildren must be experienced dressage riders. Please note that there are no ponies available so children will ride the Lusitano dressage horses.
There are two main instructors at the riding centre and it is likely that you will have lessons alternating between the two, however, for continuity and consistency in training, one of them will most likely be more present throughout the holiday. Mario Cardoso, who speaks English and Portuguese, and is specialized in the training of young horses, as well as being a regional champion in Working Equitation. An accomplished dressage rider, Mario has worked and trained with some of the top names in the dressage world, as well as riding in shows alongside Miguel Fonseca (several times world champion of working horse) across all of Portugal. Sérgio Henriques, who speaks English and Portuguese, and is a rider with extensive experience in the Working Equitation Discipline and well respected throughout the industry.
The Quinta is situated only 20kms away from Lisbon giving non-riders the chance to see plenty of sights during their stay. The National Park of Mafira is close-by as is the Atlantic Coast - the beauty of being close to the coast is the warm temperature which does not get too uncomfortable for riding during the summer months. Car hire is recommended although 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. All excursions are booked and paid for on-site.
Guests may choose to stay for as many nights as they like, but a minimum of 3 nights is recommended. Guests are able to ride on the day of arrival and departure day, as long as the arrival time is around lunchtime (in time for the afternoon lesson) and departure is after the morning lesson on the final day. The latest arrival time on Day 1 is ideally 10pm. Please not there are no lessons on a Sunday.
The Quinta Accommodation and Facilities
Guests stay in the guesthouse at the riding school. There are 5 en-suite rooms and all are air-conditioned. The bedrooms are simply decorated, clean and comfortable. Everything is self-contained with the stables close by. Delicious Portuguese meals are served in the cosy dining room which looks over the indoor riding school. Evenings can be spent relaxed in the riders' lounge, in the bar, or perhaps the games room with its snooker table. There is also a little chapel and an unheated outdoor swimming pool which is open all year round. Free WiFi is available.
Equestrian facilities on-site include an indoor and outdoor school (which is partially covered) and a bull fighting ring which is used for working equitation sessions, or turnout for the horses. The horses are regularly turned out in the paddocks at the Quinta so they get to enjoy the Portuguese sun as much as the guests!
Escola de Equitaçao de Alcainça lies 25km northwest of Lisbon, 5km from the famous cloister of Mafra, and 15km from the Atlantic coast.
Please note: All itineraries are given for your guidance only and it may be altered on the ground and in accordance with the prevailing conditions by the organising team.
Ride pure-bred Lusitano horses (including some stallionsa) The Lusitanos come from the same origin as the Andalusions and can be considered some of the finest horses in Europe
There are currently 12 school horses at the equestrian centre, they are either Puro Sangue Lusitano or Cruzado Lusitano bred and average around 15.3hh/1.60m high. The horses have been schooled in the classical way. If riders would like to experience what a piaffe or a passage feels like, this is the place!
The horses range in age and experience, from promising and sensitive youngsters to calm and willing older schoolmasters. There is a horse to suit everyone, from leisure riders to experienced dressage riders and everyone in-between.
The principles of the classical equitation are followed. Students gradually learn to work the horse to perfection in straightness, contact, suppleness, collection and impulsion. Through this work, the school horses are able perform some of the most difficult movements such as pirouette, passage and tempi changes. Alcainca's aim is to teach the rider how to improve the horses' natural balance and paces, promote self-carriage and make the horse supple and flexible.
When not teaching, the head instructors, Mario and Sérgio, school and train the young horses which is very interesting to watch. Please note that it is mandatory to wear a riding hat on this holiday.
This holiday is most suited to those who have a prior knowledge of dressage so as much can be got out of the holiday as possible. Riders should be competent at walk, trot and canter with a balanced and independent seat and the willingness and openness to learn. Riders are welcome to assist the grooms in grooming and tacking/untacking their horse although this is not mandatory.
A minimum age of 12 years old applies to this holiday and children must be experienced dressage riders capable of riding the Lusitano dressage horses. There are no ponies available.
It is compulsory to wear a riding helmet.
The weight limit for this ride is 198 lb/90 kg, please enquire if you are an experienced rider exceeding this weight.
Guests stay in the guesthouse at the riding school. There are 5 en-suite rooms and all are air-conditioned. The bedrooms are simply decorated, clean and comfortable and hairdryers are provided. Everything is self-contained with the stables close by. Delicious Portuguese meals are served in the cosy dining room which looks over the indoor riding school. Evenings can be spent relaxed in the riders' lounge, in the bar, or perhaps the games room with its snooker table. There is also a little chapel and an unheated outdoor swimming pool which is open all year round. Free WiFi is available.
Menu examples: Continental breakfast with local bread, jams, cheese, cereals, seasonal fruit, orange juice, tea and coffee. 2-course lunch with a meat dish, salad and fruit, house wines, water, coffee or tea. 3-course dinner with soup, fish dish and dessert, house wines, water, coffee or tea. Chef Lena also prepares delicious vegetarian meals.
Complimentary water, tea and biscuits are always available in the dining room and in the Riders Lounge. Soft drinks, beer, vinho verde, white and red wines are sold at the Bar and the Riders Lounge.
Vegetarian or other dietary requirements within reason can be accommodated with advance notice. Please contact Unicorn Trails with requests before booking.
Please note that it is your responsibility to ensure you have the correct documentation in place for your trip.
NB: Be sure to check the COVID status of the country you plan to visit including entry procedures
Passport and Visa requirements can change from year to year depending on diplomatic relations. Please request information from the appropriate Consulate in your home country.
Unicorn Trails will assist with any questions you have or supply any necessary supporting documents as required by the consulate should you need a visa.
In the UK the British Foreign Office gives advice: https://www.gov.uk/foreign-travel-advice/portugal
In the US: https://travel.state.gov/content/travel/en/international-travel/International-Travel-Country-Information-Pages/Portugal.html
In Canada: https://travel.gc.ca/destinations/portugal
The temperature is influenced by the Atlantic sea, which offers a mild climate all year round. Especially in summer, temperatures are not too hot in the coastal area, because of the cooling influence of the sea. Spring and Autumn usually bring warm, sunny days and winter sees cool mornings and evenings but clear sunny days with a maximum temperature of around 14 degrees celsius.
COVID: Be sure to check the latest COVID regulations for travelling in any country you visit.
You should always bring any regular prescription drugs you may need with you.
If you need to contact the emergency services in Portugal call 112.
Please refer to your country’s latest health guideline for travel in Portugal and contact your own GP for up to date advice on vaccinations and prophylaxis prior to travel.
In Portugal the supply voltage is 230V. If the appliance is a single voltage rated appliance, it will need to operate at the same voltage as the supply voltage of the country i.e. 230V. If this is not the case it should be used alongside a voltage transformer or converter to allow the appliance to work safely and properly.
Camera's and batteries can be charged every night. There is free WiFi/internet around most the equestrian centre and there is good mobile phone signal. Please note there is no WiFi signal in the accommodation across the road from the equestrian centre. If you want to bring a GoPro please be advised that you will have to have permission from all other guests and guides that they are willing to be filmed.
Riding trousers - breeches or jodphurs
Riding boots, paddock boots or riding sneakers (with heel)
Half chaps (optional)
Riding gloves (optional)
Spurs - if you usually use them, or the centre can lend you some if you haven't used them before.
Lipbalm with sunscreen
T-shirts and shorts
Long sleeved shirts
Sweater, sweatshirt or fleece
Sarong or wrap
Informal wear for evenings
Copy of your passport
Driving licence if you are hiring a car
Continental 2 pin adapter plug
Hairdryers are provided
This holiday runs year round, only closing over Christmas and New Year. Any day arrival and departure - bookings are taken per night and a minimum of 3 nights is applicable, please note there are no lessons on a Sunday except on special weeks. Special discounts apply for stays of 10 nights or more.
2023: Year round from 3 Jan to 23 Dec, any day arrival.
2023: Weeks with lessons on a Sunday 30 April; 21 May; 2 July; 3 Sep; 29 Oct; 3 Dec
|Riding days||Product item description||£|
|2023 3 Jan - 28 Feb per night||per night||1||Programme A (2 lessons per day)||185|
|2023 3 Jan - 28 Feb per night||per night||1||Programme B (1 lesson per day)||155|
|2023 3 Jan - 28 Feb per night||per night||1||single supplement||39|
|2023 3 Jan - 28 Feb per night||per night||1||non-rider||92|
|2023 1 Mar to 31 Oct per night||per night||1||Programme A (2 lessons per day)||229|
|2023 1 Mar to 31 Oct per night||per night||1||Programme B (1 lesson per day)||189|
|2023 1 Mar to 31 Oct per night||per night||1||single supplement||39|
|2023 1 Mar to 31 Oct per night||per night||1||non-rider||115|
|2023 1 Nov to 23 Dec per night||per night||1||Programme A (2 lessons per day)||205|
|2023 1 Nov to 23 Dec per night||per night||1||Programme B (1 lesson per day)||169|
|2023 1 Nov to 23 Dec per night||per night||1||single supplement||39|
|2023 1 Nov to 23 Dec per night||per night||1||non-rider||105|
|Riding days||Product item description||€|
|2023 3 Jan - 28 Feb per night||per night||1||Programme A (2 lessons per day)||209|
|2023 3 Jan - 28 Feb per night||per night||1||Programme B (1 lesson per day)||175|
|2023 3 Jan - 28 Feb per night||per night||1||single supplement||44|
|2023 3 Jan - 28 Feb per night||per night||1||non-rider||105|
|2023 1 Mar to 31 Oct per night||per night||1||Programme A (2 lessons per day)||259|
|2023 1 Mar to 31 Oct per night||per night||1||Programme B (1 lesson per day)||215|
|2023 1 Mar to 31 Oct per night||per night||1||single supplement||44|
|2023 1 Mar to 31 Oct per night||per night||1||non-rider||129|
|2023 1 Nov to 23 Dec per night||per night||1||Programme A (2 lessons per day)||235|
|2023 1 Nov to 23 Dec per night||per night||1||Programme B (1 lesson per day)||195|
|2023 1 Nov to 23 Dec per night||per night||1||single supplement||44|
|2023 1 Nov to 23 Dec per night||per night||1||non-rider||119|
|Riding days||Product item description||US $|
|2023 3 Jan - 28 Feb per night||per night||1||Programme A (2 lessons per day)||229|
|2023 3 Jan - 28 Feb per night||per night||1||Programme B (1 lesson per day)||195|
|2023 3 Jan - 28 Feb per night||per night||1||single supplement||49|
|2023 3 Jan - 28 Feb per night||per night||1||non-rider||115|
|2023 1 Mar to 31 Oct per night||per night||1||Programme A (2 lessons per day)||289|
|2023 1 Mar to 31 Oct per night||per night||1||Programme B (1 lesson per day)||239|
|2023 1 Mar to 31 Oct per night||per night||1||single supplement||49|
|2023 1 Mar to 31 Oct per night||per night||1||non-rider||145|
|2023 1 Nov to 23 Dec per night||per night||1||Programme A (2 lessons per day)||259|
|2023 1 Nov to 23 Dec per night||per night||1||Programme B (1 lesson per day)||215|
|2023 1 Nov to 23 Dec per night||per night||1||single supplement||49|
|2023 1 Nov to 23 Dec per night||per night||1||non-rider||129|
|Riding days||Product item description||SEK|
|2023 3 Jan - 28 Feb per night||per night||1||Programme A (2 lessons per day)||2,449|
|2023 3 Jan - 28 Feb per night||per night||1||Programme B (1 lesson per day)||2,029|
|2023 3 Jan - 28 Feb per night||per night||1||single supplement||515|
|2023 3 Jan - 28 Feb per night||per night||1||non-rider||1,225|
|2023 1 Mar to 31 Oct per night||per night||1||Programme A (2 lessons per day)||3,059|
|2023 1 Mar to 31 Oct per night||per night||1||Programme B (1 lesson per day)||2,539|
|2023 1 Mar to 31 Oct per night||per night||1||single supplement||515|
|2023 1 Mar to 31 Oct per night||per night||1||non-rider||1,529|
|2023 1 Nov to 23 Dec per night||per night||1||Programme A (2 lessons per day)||2,755|
|2023 1 Nov to 23 Dec per night||per night||1||Programme B (1 lesson per day)||2,285|
|2023 1 Nov to 23 Dec per night||per night||1||single supplement||515|
|2023 1 Nov to 23 Dec per night||per night||1||non-rider||1,379|
Country specific books:
The excellent location of the equestrian centre makes it an ideal base for exploring the area, both for riders and non-riders alike. There are guided trips available from the Quinta which range from visiting the village fair in Malveira every Thursday to seeing the São Jorge Castle and Oceanarium in Lisbon. A full list of trips can be seen upon arrival or please ask your Sales Consultant if you'd like to see in advance. Here are a more few suggestions of what can be seen and done in the area:
Lisbon: only 35 minutes away, the capital city of Portugal is one of the oldest cities worldwide. The rich architecture, historical boulevards and monuments are well worth a visit, as are the cities' museums and the opera house. Board a city tram and travel around easily to immerse yourself in the Portuguese culture.
Queluz - Portuguese School of Equestrian Arts and Queluz National Palace - enjoy 2 trips in one by visiting the beautiful palace at Queluz which also houses the Portuguese School of Equestrian Arts within its extensive grounds. Located around 30 minutes away in the municipality of Sintra (see below), the palace dates back to the 18th century and was one of the last Rococo buildings to be designed in Europe. Wander around the extravagant state and private apartments and the beautiful gardens.
The mission of the Portuguese School of Equestrian Art is to conserve and promote the Alter Real-bred Lusitano horse and uphold the Portuguese tradition of Haute École through the selection, training and exhibition of Pure Blood Lusitano horses from the Alter Real Stud Farm. It is an equestrian cultural heritage that remains unique in the world. Equestrian shows are given weekly and are not to be missed!
Sintra - a 30 minute drive away is the town of Sintra. Known for its many 19th-century Romantic architectural monuments, which has resulted in its classification as a UNESCO World Heritage Site, Sintra is a popular tourist destination. Enjoy the Sintra Mountains, Sintra-Cascais Nature Park or visit the castles, royal retreats and estates which are dotted around the town.
Mafra National Palace - located literally next door to Alcainca (well, 8 minutes away) is another imposing palace; the long 220m facade is built out of local limestone in baroque style and the building dates back to 1717. It houses a church in the centre, overlooking the town of Mafra and the royal palace rooms and magnificant library can be found on the 2nd floor. Well worth a visit, especially to see the falconery displays.
Other points of interest around Mafra include the Tapada Nacional de Mafra, an enclosed wildlife and game reserve.
Beaches - there are a number of beaches within the Sintra district which can easily be reached within 40 minutes. Surfing is popular due to the waves from the Atlantic Sea.
Pedro and Sandra - owners of Alcainca:
'Escola de Equitaçao de Alcainça is a family business in the 3rd generation.
Our grandfather has been passioned by the beauty and the majesty of the Lusitano horse and the Portuguese Classical Equitation. He built the “Quinta” in the late 70’s for a personal retreat where the family would spend weekends and holidays together.
Our mother Salette took over the management of Escola the Equitaçao de Alcainça and continued to run the school and develop the facility, sharing our grandfathers passion and vision for Escola de Equitaçao de Alcainça.
In the 80’s we started welcoming international guests, joining our organized weekly trail rides on Lusitano horses in Portugal’s beautiful scenery; along endless plains and beaches washed by the Atlantic and caressed by the sun!
During the same period of time, we received corporate events on our facility for celebrations and performances of traditional “Classical Portuguese Equitation” at its best on our Purebreed Lusitano Horses.
The lands where nature has remind untouched disappeared little by little which lead us to the decision to focus on our future, offering stationary dressage holidays other than trail rides. We invested in the equestrian facilities and focused on the dressage training of our school horses.
A new era of Escola de Equitaçao has been introduced by this decision. Ever since, we are determined to maintain the traditions and allow our international riders to experience the quality of the Lusitano horse and its ability for the classical equitation.
We are inspired from our family’s vision and the tradition of our facility and are ambitious to maintain the philosophy of Escola de Equitaçao and look into a promising future!'
Historically, the Portuguese have been the intrepid explorers of the world. In the 15th Century they discovered the sea route to India, via the Cape of Good Hope. Vasco da Gama reached India in 1498 and Pedro Cabral, trying to reach India, discovered Brazil two years later (1500). Other Portuguese explorers reached the Far East, China and Japan. The first circumnavigation of the globe was led by Portuguese navigator Ferdinand Magellan.
Portugal has a rich seafaring past, superb beach resorts, quaint towns and a landscape wreathed in olive groves, vineyards and wheat fields. Portugal is dotted with UNESCO World Heritage sites and graced by one of Europe's most relaxed and attractive capitals.
Savouring life slowly is a Portuguese passion, and much of the best is humble - traditional folk festivals; simple, honest food drowning in olive oil; music that pulls at the heart strings, recalling past love and glories; and markets overflowing with fish, fruit and flowers.
Portugal is in the GMT time zone and they use the metric weights and measures system, so kilometres and kilograms instead of miles and pounds. There is approximately 1.6 kilometres in a mile and 2.2 pounds in a kilogram.
The international dialling code is +351
If you are hiring a car, you will need to know about how to pay any toll fees as these are done automatically and not on the road. This is a new system from January 2012 and the method for how to pay this will change throughout the year. Please check this website for current information: http://www.amoita.com/node/1414