Situated north west of Lisbon lies Golega, the horse capital of Portugal. On the outskirts of the town is your base for this holiday; a converted former monastery, now home to your hosts and their highly-trained stable of Lusitano stallions. Guests will spend each morning receiving tailored dressage instruction on one of the yards dressage schoolmasters who can work to advanced level and will spend the afternoons exploring the local countryside on horseback.
This destination offers a holiday for all levels of rider with horses to suit from beginner to advanced riders, making it ideal for groups of mixed ability and families. As well as riding, your hosts can organise golf, hiking, fishing and biking in the local area and guests can even enjoy outdoor yoga classes on-site. Accommodation is high-end in twin or double rooms, all with en-suite bathrooms and beautiful views over the surrounding countryside. An ideal riding holiday for anyone interested in improving their dressage skills alongside relaxed trail riding on highly-trained Lusitano horses.
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 SA of Umberleigh on 17/06/2019
There are two programmes available on this holiday:
Programme A - Morning dressage lesson followed by either trail riding or another dressage lesson in the afternoon
Programme B - Morning dressage lesson followed by sightseeing in the local area in the afternoon
Optional yoga lessons on site are available on all programmes. These cost an additional €15 per hour and are payable on site. There are mats available to borrow but or you can purchase your own mat for €10.
Programmes can also be combined with visit to two local golf courses, ideal for a non-riding companion to take advantage of.
Arrive at your accommodation for the week, a former monastry located on-site with the stables and arena just a short stroll away. Settle into your room and meet your hosts and fellow guests over dinner that evening. Either before or after dinner all guests will be invited to join thehosts on a José Saramago walk; a guided walk to learn more about the local past inhabitant – Nobel Price of Literature winner – Jose Saramago. With his birth place being Azinhaga, the town has some tributes to the writer which you will discover on this peaceful walk in beautiful surroundings. Dinner will take place in the on-site restaurant and is usually traditional Portugese food served along with a bottle of local wine.
After breakfast it's time to head down to the stables and meet the horses. There are 16 horses kept on -ite and your hosts will give you a short introduction to the Lusitano breed and the indivdual horses. Once you have been matched with a suitable horse, it's time to get acquitainted in the arena with your first lesson.
From Day 2 to Day 7
Programme A: The programme will involve morning dressage instruction of between 1 hour to 1.5 hours with a group size of between 2 and 3. After a hearty lunch guests will then be able to take part in some more relaxed riding on a ride out into the surrounding countryside. Some of the rides out are;
* Trail to rio Tejo / Tagus river
The stables are only a 10 minute ride away from the magnificent Tagus river. Enjoy riding along the river banks, getting your horses feet wet and maybe yours too if you want to go for a swim – with or without your horse.
* Fishermen’s Trail
Cross the typical Portuguese countryside and venture into the bushes to find a hidden fishermen’s cabin. Stop for a quick snack in the cabin before enjoing a boat ride across the river before riding back home.
* Golegã trail
Head to the Capital do Cavalo / Capital of Horses. Here you can taste the atmosphere of the infamous São Martinho fair. Visit the manga (the big arena used during the São Martinho fair in the middle of town) and show off the dressage moves you've been practising. Lunch is in a typical Portuguese bistro before riding back, passing the Estudio Carlos Relvas. This photographer’s house will catch your eye immediately with its extraordinary architecture using iron, glass and red details.
* Trail to the Paul do Boquilobo Natural Reserve
Explore nature and enjoy the lush green countryside that surrounds the stables. Find out more about the biodiversity of the reserve from the local guide, the reserve is occupied by at least 221 bird species and is a peaceful, beautiful place to relax on horseback.
Morning dressage instruction of between 1 hour to 1.5 hours with a group size of between 2 and 3. After a hearty lunch, guests will be taken sightseeing in the local area with a guide.
This is the ideal break for non-riding campanions with an interest in golf with two excellent courses nearby:
Ribagolfe: Once described as the ‘Valderrama of Portugal’, Ribagolfe I provides a superb test of golf in a unique and natural setting 40 minutes north of Lisbon (approx a 30 min drive from the riding centre).
Riba II is a a shorter test than its sibling Ribagolfe I but still measuring more than 6,800 yards, Ribagolfe II was designed by former Ryder Cup player Michael King in colaboration with European Tour Design.
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.
There are between 10-12 horses for riders to chose from at this stable, ranging from 15.2-16.2hh. Most of the horses are Luistano stallions and have been trained using natural horsemanship methods so are relaxed and quiet to handle. This breed is reknowned as a dressage horse and all the horses are experienced dressage schoolmasters; ridden more with the leg and seat than the hand.
The riding facilities at this destination include a large, covered arena with geo-track flooring for lessons, and17 loose boxes; each box is equipped with automatic water drinker, lights and thermal protection. In the arena dressage saddle are used, they have slightly wider/square saddle flaps but essentially feels the same as an English saddle. Traditional Western saddles are used for trail riding – these saddles are very comfortable for long periods in the saddle.
There is a team of grooms who provide horse care and will groom and tack up horses, riders are welcome to assist the grooms in grooming and tacking/untacking of their horse if they want to. This destination can cater for levels from beginner to advanced, with a range of highly-trained horses to choose from. You do not need to be an expert dressage rider at all and the instructors are very happy to teach less experienced and beginner riders.
The weight limit for this ride is 15 st/209 lb/95 kg, please enquire if you are an experienced rider exceeding this weight.
Accommodation is in a spectacular converted monestry on-site with views across the courtyard to the outdoor area. The building can accommodate up to 12 guests in a mix of twin, double and triple rooms. All rooms are equipped with an en-suite bathroom, heating and air conditioning. The monastry benefits from a communal dining room and lounge area as well as a games room, BBQ area and a swimming pool. The area is very quiet and peaceful, allowing for total relaxation, although there are restaurants and coffee shops within walking distance.
Meal timings are arranged with guests once they arrive and the food served is mainly delicious traditional Portugese dishes based around fish/meat/salad/rice. Special dietary requirements can be accommodated with advance notice.
Vegetarian or other dietary requirements can be accommodated with advanced notice. Please contact Unicorn Trails with requests.
Please note that it is your responsibility to ensure you have the correct documentation in place for your trip. If Visa’s are required the 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 on request.
A valid passport is required for travel to Portugal. Visas are not required for U.K. or other European nationals. In the UK the British Foreign Office gives travel advice on
0207 008 0232/0233 or at www.fco.gov.uk
The British Consulate in Lisbon is at Rua de Sao Bernardo 33, 1249 –082, Lisboa. Tel 351 21 392 4040. email: Consular@Lisbon.mail.fco.gov.uk
On average the warmest months are July and August, with hot periods. The coolest months are January and February and the wettest months are November and December and to be avoided if you don’t like too much rain.
No special health precautions are required for visits to Portugal, for further details please see your local doctor.
For up to date information on specific health concerns please contact the Medical Advisors For Travellers Abroad. Their website can be found at www.masta.org.
Voltage is the same as in the UK and most appliances such as battery chargers for videos, hair dryers etc. can be plugged in with appropriate 2 pronged adapters. These are available for purchase at most airports and travel shops.
There is free wifi available in all the rooms as well as electricity so you can charge cameras and batteries.
Riding trousers - breeches or jodphurs
Riding boots, paddock boots or riding sneakers (with heel)
Half chaps (optional)
Riding gloves (optional)
Riding hat - these are mandatory. There is a small selection to borrow on-site but we recommend that you take your own for safety and comfort reasons.
Lipbalm with sunscreen
T-shirts and shorts
Long sleeved shirts
Sweater, sweatshirt or fleece
Informal wear for evenings
Continental 2 pin adapter plug
Comfortable clothing for yoga, if required
Linen, towels and a hairdryer are provided.
This destination offers any day arrival and departure, bookings are taken per night and there is a minimum of 3 nights. There are two programmes available:
Programme A - Morning dressage lesson followed by trail riding or another dressage lesson in the afternoon
Programme B - Morning dressage lesson followed by sightseeing in the local area in the afternoon
Optional yoga lessons are available on both programmes for an additional €15 (payable on site)
2019: Dates available on demand all year
|Riding days||Product item description||£|
|2019 2 Jan - 28 Feb per night||per night||1||Programme A (2 lessons/day)||165|
|2019 2 Jan - 28 Feb per night||per night||1||Programme B (1 lesson/day)||139|
|2019 2 Jan - 28 Feb per night||per night||1||single supplement||38|
|2019 2 Jan - 28 Feb per night||per night||1||non-rider||87|
|2019 1 March - 31 Oct per night||per night||1||Programme A (2 lessons/day)||199|
|2019 1 March - 31 Oct per night||per night||1||Programme B (1 lesson/day)||165|
|2019 1 March - 31 Oct per night||per night||1||single supplement||38|
|2019 1 March - 31 Oct per night||per night||1||non-rider||109|
|2019 1 March - 31 Oct per night||per night||1||Extra riding lesson||45|
|2019 1 Nov to 23 Dec per night||per night||1||Programme A (2 lessons/day)||189|
|2019 1 Nov to 23 Dec per night||per night||1||Programme B (1 lesson/day)||159|
|2019 1 Nov to 23 Dec per night||per night||1||single supplement||39|
|2019 1 Nov to 23 Dec per night||per night||1||non-rider||98|
|Riding days||Product item description||€|
|2019 2 Jan - 28 Feb per night||per night||1||Programme A (2 lessons/day)||185|
|2019 2 Jan - 28 Feb per night||per night||1||Programme B (1 lesson/day)||155|
|2019 2 Jan - 28 Feb per night||per night||1||single supplement||42|
|2019 2 Jan - 28 Feb per night||per night||1||non-rider||97|
|2019 1 March - 31 Oct per night||per night||1||Programme A (2 lessons/day)||219|
|2019 1 March - 31 Oct per night||per night||1||Programme B (1 lesson/day)||185|
|2019 1 March - 31 Oct per night||per night||1||single supplement||42|
|2019 1 March - 31 Oct per night||per night||1||non-rider||125|
|2019 1 March - 31 Oct per night||per night||1||Extra riding lesson||50|
|2019 1 Nov to 23 Dec per night||per night||1||Programme A (2 lessons/day)||209|
|2019 1 Nov to 23 Dec per night||per night||1||Programme B (1 lesson/day)||175|
|2019 1 Nov to 23 Dec per night||per night||1||single supplement||43|
|2019 1 Nov to 23 Dec per night||per night||1||non-rider||109|
|Riding days||Product item description||$|
|2019 2 Jan - 28 Feb per night||per night||1||Programme A (2 lessons/day)||209|
|2019 2 Jan - 28 Feb per night||per night||1||Programme B (1 lesson/day)||179|
|2019 2 Jan - 28 Feb per night||per night||1||single supplement||48|
|2019 2 Jan - 28 Feb per night||per night||1||non-rider||109|
|2019 1 March - 31 Oct per night||per night||1||Programme A (2 lessons/day)||249|
|2019 1 March - 31 Oct per night||per night||1||Programme B (1 lesson/day)||209|
|2019 1 March - 31 Oct per night||per night||1||single supplement||48|
|2019 1 March - 31 Oct per night||per night||1||non-rider||145|
|2019 1 March - 31 Oct per night||per night||1||Extra riding lesson||57|
|2019 1 Nov to 23 Dec per night||per night||1||Programme A (2 lessons/day)||239|
|2019 1 Nov to 23 Dec per night||per night||1||Programme B (1 lesson/day)||199|
|2019 1 Nov to 23 Dec per night||per night||1||single supplement||50|
|2019 1 Nov to 23 Dec per night||per night||1||non-rider||125|
|Riding days||Product item description||SEK|
|2019 2 Jan - 28 Feb per night||per night||1||Programme A (2 lessons/day)||2,035|
|2019 2 Jan - 28 Feb per night||per night||1||Programme B (1 lesson/day)||1,705|
|2019 2 Jan - 28 Feb per night||per night||1||single supplement||465|
|2019 2 Jan - 28 Feb per night||per night||1||non-rider||1,065|
|2019 1 March - 31 Oct per night||per night||1||Programme A (2 lessons/day)||2,419|
|2019 1 March - 31 Oct per night||per night||1||Programme B (1 lesson/day)||2,035|
|2019 1 March - 31 Oct per night||per night||1||single supplement||465|
|2019 1 March - 31 Oct per night||per night||1||non-rider||1,365|
|2019 1 March - 31 Oct per night||per night||1||Extra riding lesson||549|
|2019 1 Nov to 23 Dec per night||per night||1||Programme A (2 lessons/day)||2,295|
|2019 1 Nov to 23 Dec per night||per night||1||Programme B (1 lesson/day)||1,925|
|2019 1 Nov to 23 Dec per night||per night||1||single supplement||475|
|2019 1 Nov to 23 Dec per night||per night||1||non-rider||1,199|
- Journey to Portugal by José Saramago. This Nobel prize winning author was born in the village the stables are located and this book describes his rediscovery of his homeland after decades of exile, exploring many Portugese regions away from the tourist track.
- The Portuguese: The Land and Its People by Marion Kaplan, a one-volume introduction ranging from geography and history to wine and poetry, a useful overview of the country and its customs.
- Reflections on the Equestrian Art by Nuno Oliveira. A wonderful narrative and description of this dressage master's techiniques. Nuno Oliveira's knowledge, and love for his horses began in the 1940's and he became an international name in the world of classical equitation. In the 1950s and 1960s he gave exhibitions in Geneva, Brussels, Paris and London, followed by clinics in Saumur, Belgium, Holland, Italy, Australia and the USA. His pupils include some of the most talented dressage riders, officers of the Cadre Noir, and riders of the Portuguese School.
Yoga classes can be arranged on site (15€ per person per session). Your hosts can provide yoga mats or clients can purchase a mat for 10€. The classes take place outdoors with the 14th century monastery serving as a backdrop or indoors if the weather is cooler. Your hosts can also organise hiking, fishing, golf and biking in the local area, there are bikes and fishing gear available to borrow for no extra cost for those keen to pursue a more active holiday. There are also two highly-regarded golf courses close by (Ribagolf 1 and Ribagolf 2) which can be booked at www.orizontegolf.com.
Nearby Golega is considered the capital of the horse (Capital do Cavalo), and has been the site for a gathering of breeders since at least the 18th century. Two fairs take place every November in Golega: The Feira Nacional do Cavalo (National Horse Fair) and the Feira Internacional do Cavalo Lusitano, a festival dedicated to the Lusitano horse. During this time, the town transforms into a horse metropolis. The event includes horse shows and dressage, regional food and festivities.
The Portuguese have historically 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, wistful towns and a landscape wreathed in olive groves, vineyards and wheat fields. Littered 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