The Coudelaria Vila Viçosa, a cutting edge Lusitano Stud
The farmwas founded 1995 by husband and wife team Thomas and Michaela Kleba, they shared a dream to breed top level modern sport Lusitanos as well great horses to enjoy and ride as leisure horses with super temperaments. Their stunning stud farm is situated in a beautiful estate 3 miles from the royal town of Vila Viçosa. The property offers perfect conditions for breeding pure bred Lusitano horses giving young horses have the best start in life. All the young horses and the breeding mares live in herds in as natural way as possible, indeed close to how it would have been had they have been wild horses more than 5000 years ago. They roam free over large stretches of land made up of the rolling hills so characteristic to the area with plenty of forage year round and cork oak trees to provide the vital shelter from the hot sun in the summer and the rain in winter.
In this environment the horses have the best possible opportunity to grow strong healthy bodies, stay fit, supple and lean, develop strong limbs, hearts and lungs.
What’s more the animals learn respect and are well socialised through the herd hierarchy beginning with their mothers in the mares and foal herds and then later when they are separated into their all male and filly groups.
Young horses couldn’t have it better.
I see this as the perfect blend of modern breeding choices and the most natural growing environment for horses and exactly how Thomas and Michaela visualised their dream.
Often when you drive into the farm you will pass by the mares and foals swishing their tails under the trees it’s a very contented, joyful sight to behold.
At the heart of the property Thomas and Michaela created the training and breeding facility which is made up of 34 large airy stables, an indoor arena and a full size outside arena. Both the arenas have top quality surfaces for training Lusitanos at all levels.
There’s an area where the foals come in for weaning and handling before they go out into their single sex groups.
One of the stud policies is that they want all their horses to have as natural start as possible with least amount of human intervention but also that the horses at relaxed with human contact and handling. So at weaning time when the young stock are approximately six months old all the foals come in for weaning and at this time they are handled. They’re taught to be lead by head collar, to be in a stable, to be brushed, bandaged and tied so that there is less of a shock when it time for them to come in for training at 3 -4 years and also this helps hugely when they are handled for worming or if the vet is required etc.
Thomas and Michaela have also recently established a second facility 5 minutes away with more lovely cool stables, land and a small high walled arena ideal for starting young horses. This is where the young colts and some fillies come in for beginning their work. In addition there are a few horses here in training for clients.
The Stud Farm Team
The dynamic stud team is made up of Thomas and Michaela Kleba, (Michaela is a vet) and two equine and riding professionals both of which have achieved degrees in equine management, Pedro and Luis Azeitona. In addition there are three grooms and regular trainees, and a farrier. Several veterinarians support the horses daily, with the reproductive and feeding management.
Thomas and Michaela – two people with huge passion and vitality for the Lusitano Breed and for life.
The day they decided to start their now ‘world renowned stud farm’ their aim was to breed Lusitano Sport Horse with good character and outstanding gaits. They set out to choose the best possible mares and stallions for their project.
I asked them about the first breeding choices…
“The first Lusitano we had was a lovely bay Stallion called CASTOR, and he is responsible for our dedication and involvement in the breeding of these fine horses. We found and bought the mother of Castor and so the first step to breeding was made. Our main aim was to breed Lusitanos with superb gaits and with excellent characters. Thomas when on to say ‘when we started this project, other breeders were only really focused on breeding horses for the bullfight. We didn’t want this and were more interested in focusing on sport such as working equitation and competition dressage. We spent long hours researching the lines and eventually came to the conclusion, that there were two lines that were fundamental to achieving our aim. We crossed Firme with Quieta and now we are extremely satisfied with the results. The solid structure of our horses with good characters combined with swing and lots of suspension in their movement gave us to the horses we are truly fond of”.
This dedicated and devotion to their goal is bringing them great success and a world wide reputation. Now the stud has over a hundred horses and many of their horses are achieving outstanding results in high level dressage competition
Visiting Couldelaria Vila Viçosa is a real pleasure in so many ways.
Firstly the welcome from Thomas, Michaela, Pedro and Luis and all the staff is first rate – warm, friendly and fun. Their passion is so apparent and their commitment to the horse care and quality is everywhere you look. The visit will give you a full experience from seeing all the breeding stallions, the mares and foals, the horses in training, ridden and in liberty, the young horses and of course a safari trip out across the Alentejo to find the herds of colts.
Walking amongst the tranquil mares and foals is quite magical. Not only are the horses a pure joy but estate boasts wonderful wildlife with many bird varieties and mammals the land is well managed to encourage all natural wildlife.
On asking Thomas and Michaela what is the most important for them they answer
– “receiving riders, breeders and horse lovers at our stud is always a great pleasure for us and if any visitor finds the ideal horse at Vila Viçosa Stud then our project proves to us it makes sense. Our motto is to serve our clients as well as we can so that we gain a new friend and find the best homes for our Lusitanos”.
A visit to the stud can be finished with a delicious lunch or dinner in the wonderful town of Vila Viçosa with it’s numerous quality restaurants serving traditional Alentejo cuisine and wines. Not forgetting of course the Royal historic town it’s self has a fascinating history and lots to see such as the elegant and extremely grand palace ‘Ducal Palace’.
Contact us to arrange your visit.
By Teresa Burton
images by Lena Saugen
The Historic Town of Vila Vicosa is a heritage site that should be on your list.