Visit this world-renowned equestrian 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 horseback 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, if you need to perfect the piaffe and passage, this is the place to do it!

Accommodation is on-site in five en-suite bedrooms.  Even the dining room looks out over the indoor school! 
 

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 AM of Barrie on 26/11/2023

Ride Summary
Great holiday! The food and riding instruction was great. The lodgings were clean and comfortable, but smelled on the musty side. The grounds could've used some upkeep, and the pool was green when we were there.
What was your overall impression of the holiday
Overall impression
Unicorn Trails sales staff

Riding tour leader

Additional Comments
Horses and Tack

Additional Comments
Horses looked to be well cared for.
Meals

Accommodation

Miscellaneous

Was this trip accurately described to you beforehand?
YES
Please give more details to explain your response:
Was there anything you should have known and were not told? NO
Please give more details to explain your response:
What could we do to improve this ride?
The lodgings could use some maintenance, but while older, they were clean.
How would you rate the difficulty of this ride out of 10 where 1 is very easy and 10 is very advanced?
7
Please explain why you scored it as you did:
Riding instruction was a good 45 minutes to an hour of trotting to cantering.
Would you recommend Unicorn Trails to your friends?
YES
Please give more details to explain your response:
May we use you as a reference for other people wishing to go on this ride?
YES
Any other comments:
Unicorn comments: Thank you for your feedback. I did speak to the hosts about the pool, and they said "The issue of the pool being green and undergoing maintenance is due to the heavy rain we had at the end of October and beginning of November, with temperatures still high for the time of year, which causes the proliferation of fungi and algae in the pools. Furthermore, it hadn't rained in Portugal almost since January or February". Glad you had a great holiday! :)

There are two programmes available on this holiday. Lessons of no more than 3 riders are grouped according to ability and last for around 60 minutes. Shorter, private lessons are available with prior arrangement..

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. An interest in dressage and a willingness to learn from the experienced instructors will give riders the most out of the the experience. 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. Depending on your fitness and interest, there are two programmes to chose from, with either one (1hr riding) or two riding lessons per day in the morning or afternoon, or both. In between lessons, depending on available time, guests can relax at the pool or go for an excursion or the beach.

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 (additional charge), 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 note there are no lessons on Sundays. (Packages of 7 nights of longer that include Sundays will receive a discount).


 

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.

Horses & Riding

There are currently 10 Lusitano school horses (including some stallions) available, averaging 15.3hh/1.60m high at the equestrian centre. They range in age and experience, from promising youngsters to calm and willing advanced dressage schoolmasters, able to teach the piaffe, passage, pirouette and flying changes. The school uses the principles of classical equitation, with its emphasis on straightness, contact, suppleness, collection and impulsion. Riders are taught the classical seat and hence how to gradually improve an animal's natural balance, paces and self carriage.

You may also watch the young horses being schooled by the trainers. 


Rider requirements

Riders should be competent at walk, trot and canter with a balanced and independent seat, and a willingness and openness to learn. An interest in dressage, ideally with some prior knowledge, is also desirable. Riders are welcome to assist 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.

Weight Limit

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. The chef also prepares delicious vegetarian meals. Please advise of dietary requests when booking.

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.

Documents - Visa and Consulate Info

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

Climate Summary

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.

Climate Chart

Health

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.

Electricity

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.

Mobile, WiFi and charging

Equipment can be charged every night. There is free WiFi/internet around most the equestrian centre and there is good mobile 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.

Packing List

Riding trousers - breeches or jodphurs
Riding boots, paddock boots or riding sneakers (with heel)
Half chaps (optional)
Riding gloves (optional)
Hard hat
Spurs - if you usually use them, or the centre can lend you some if you haven't used them before.
Swimsuit
Lipbalm with sunscreen
Insect repellent
Sunblock
Sunglasses
T-shirts and shorts
Sandals
Camera
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
Lightweight rainwear
Water bottle
Wet wipes
Continental 2 pin adapter plug
Hairdryers are provided

Programmes

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.
3, 4 and 7 night set packages available
Special discounts apply for stays of 10 nights or more.

Departure Dates

2024:Year round from 3rd Jan - 23rd Dec. Any day arrival
3, 4 and 7 night programmes
Riding instruction every weekday except Sundays
10% discount on July and August dates
Portuguese Equitation Special Week: 21-28 Apr.

Pricing
No single supplement payable if willing to share with someone of same sex. Should you wish to book a single room, please see supplement price below.


No of   
days/nights
Riding days Product item description £
2024 per night Base Priceper night1Dbl pp Programme 2 (2 lessons)255
2024 per night Base Priceper night1Dbl pp Programme 1 (1 lesson)195
2024 per night Base Priceper night1Single Supplement pp31
2024 per night Base Priceper night1Private Lessons individual87
2024 per night Base Priceper night1Extra Lesson 1-3 riders61
2025 per night Low Season per night1Dbl pp Programme 2 (2 lessons)205
2025 per night Low Season per night1Dbl pp Programme 1 (1 lesson)155
2025 per night Low Season per night1Single Supplement pp31
2025 per night Low Season per night1Private Lessons individual87
2025 per night Low Season per night1Extra Lesson 1-3 riders61
No of   
days/nights
Riding days Product item description
2024 per night Base Priceper night1Dbl pp Programme 2 (2 lessons)295
2024 per night Base Priceper night1Dbl pp Programme 1 (1 lesson)225
2024 per night Base Priceper night1Single Supplement pp35
2024 per night Base Priceper night1Private Lessons individual99
2024 per night Base Priceper night1Extra Lesson 1-3 riders70
2025 per night Low Season per night1Dbl pp Programme 2 (2 lessons)239
2025 per night Low Season per night1Dbl pp Programme 1 (1 lesson)179
2025 per night Low Season per night1Single Supplement pp35
2025 per night Low Season per night1Private Lessons individual99
2025 per night Low Season per night1Extra Lesson 1-3 riders70
No of   
days/nights
Riding days Product item description US $
2024 per night Base Priceper night1Dbl pp Programme 2 (2 lessons)339
2024 per night Base Priceper night1Dbl pp Programme 1 (1 lesson)259
2024 per night Base Priceper night1Single Supplement pp39
2024 per night Base Priceper night1Private Lessons individual109
2024 per night Base Priceper night1Extra Lesson 1-3 riders78
2025 per night Low Season per night1Dbl pp Programme 2 (2 lessons)269
2025 per night Low Season per night1Dbl pp Programme 1 (1 lesson)209
2025 per night Low Season per night1Single Supplement pp39
2025 per night Low Season per night1Private Lessons individual109
2025 per night Low Season per night1Extra Lesson 1-3 riders78
No of   
days/nights
Riding days Product item description SEK
2024 per night Base Priceper night1Dbl pp Programme 2 (2 lessons)3,455
2024 per night Base Priceper night1Dbl pp Programme 1 (1 lesson)2,635
2024 per night Base Priceper night1Single Supplement pp399
2024 per night Base Priceper night1Private Lessons individual1,139
2024 per night Base Priceper night1Extra Lesson 1-3 riders799
2025 per night Low Season per night1Dbl pp Programme 2 (2 lessons)2,765
2025 per night Low Season per night1Dbl pp Programme 1 (1 lesson)2,109
2025 per night Low Season per night1Single Supplement pp399
2025 per night Low Season per night1Private Lessons individual1,139
2025 per night Low Season per night1Extra Lesson 1-3 riders799
Recommended Reading



Country specific books:




Other Information

'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!'

Other Country Information

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

Travel Summary

Meeting-point (getting there):
Lisbon Airport or city
Transfer:
2024: From Lisbon airport ret €110 per car (1-3 passengers)
From Lisbon hotel ret €130 per car (1-3 passengers)
Flight Guide:
London to Lisbon return from £75pp
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