Articles and reviews about Equestrian holiday locations and lessons, quality of services and accommodation.

Alentejo Ranch Holidays now Booking

Favouring Traditional Methods over Modern Machinery


Text by Teresa Burton  Photography by ABR fotografias

Last year we made a visit to the stunning farms  of the Tavares Moreira family, located in the Alentejo close to the Spainish Border.



Bernardo Tavares Moreira with his wife Rita Torres Moreira and daughter Maria Francisca Torres Moreira.

The farms are called Herdade da Carapuςa and Herdade D´agosto

During our visit we were inspired to work with the family to open up an opportunity for people to have holidays on the farms. To provide a Traditional Portuguese Farm experience learning about the horses and cattle. Sadly like so many heritage activities  many farms have turned away from using the horses to work with the cattle in favour of tractors and quads which they think are quicker and cheaper.  However there are those that would disagree with this and highly value the more traditional methods. One of these people is Bernardo Tavares Moreira.

Bernardo Tavares Moreira

Since a very young age Bernardo has always been passionate about the traditional methods and rural life.  Growing up in Lisbon he dreamed to be on the farm. A dream that never left him until finally he moved to the Alentejo to spend his days working with the cattle and the Lusitano Horses they bred. He continues to this day working the farm in the traditional way.  Although of course, from time to tme he uses tractors and quads, almost always he aims to be managing the farm from the back of a lusitano. 

Alentejana Cattle

The family are breeding pure bred Alentejana cattle. This is a Portuguese breed, also known as Transtagan.  The breed orginates from the Alentejo region and was used for agricultural work. They are quite similar to the Spanish Retinta Breed.

These gentle animals are a medium build with a golden red colour.  The horns are large and pointed forward with upturned tips. The hind legs very muscular and strong and the shoulders long and broad.  They are considered rustic, energetic animals and they really suit the beautiful Alentejo landscape.

For centuries they were the most important working breed in the plains.  However, from the mid 1900´s the mechanisation of agricultural work slowly took over.  So the need for them to work the land deminished and they became used primarly for meat. The flavor of the meat is intense and it is very tender. However they didn´t produce enough meat so crossing them with other breeds such as Charolias and Limozines is done yielding more meat on each animal.  With this change the pure genetics of the breed started to become comprised.

Because of this the studbook of the Alentejana was established in 1970.  Breeders of this wonderful native breed began to work to limit genetic regression. National and community programmes set up to promote conversation and sustainable use of animal genetic resources.

Alenetejana Bull

Bernardo and his family continue this in their breeding programmes.  They have 3 cattle herds on the farms.  They don´t sell pure bred Alentejana cattle simply select the females to different herds according to their quality and genetics. The highest quality retained to breed pure bred cattle and the others crossed bred with Limousin and Charolias bulls for meat cattle.  The cows and bulls are simply stunning.

The cattle are able to graze in expansive pasture lands of rolling hills dotted with cork oaks trees providing plenty of shade in the hot summers. It makes for quite a sight to visit these beautiful herds.

Landscape of rolling hills and cork oak trees

The Farm´s Lusitano Horses

The Lusitanos mares

The stud farm has a small herd of quality Lusitano mares with old bloodlines suitable for bull fighting, working equitation and nowadays dressage.  The horse have a lot of Veiga influence and recently with a dressage focus while maintaining the Baroque the mares have been put to the Olympic/GP stallion Forgoso. The horses are selected and some sold Internationally and the others retained on the farm.

The stud name is – Manuel Francisco de Moura Tavares Herdeiros  (Manuel Tavares Herdeiros)

Bernardo and Rita

Bernardo breeds and trains all his horses which are a mix or pure bred Lusitanos and Luso/Arabs. Favouring the Vaqueira / Garrochista style and he has adopted many of the techniques.

Particularly the use the Garrocha that is now seen in part of the working equitation competition.

The working horses are all highly trained and have many advanced exercises that they need to quickly react and manuveur during work.  Exercises such as canter pirouettes, lateral movements, canter changes are all required in the work.

His work is very skilled and simpatic and it includes everything from simply moving cattle from one pasture to another to separating animals for vacinations etc.  From horse back it is much less stressful for the cattle, they comply easily because they totally accept the horses as their managers .

There is a special bond between the Lusitanos and the cattle.


The Family

This is all made all the more special as the whole family are in someway involved. Everyone brings so much creativity to the table. Bernardo´s wife Rita Torres Moreira is a nutritionist and on weekends she joins Bernardo along with their son and daughter to ride the horses and help with the cattle. Rita and their daughter Francisca are so skilled on their Lusitanos I really enjoyed watching them effortlessly manoeuvre the cows into pens for vacninating. carefully parting the calves so they didn´t get injured and minimising any stress in the process.

Rita´s brother is Rodrigo Torres one of Portugal most outstanding Olympic Riders.

Rita Torres Moreira

Maria Francisca Torres Moreira

Ana Tavares Moreira the owner of Carapura Farm has converted the old hay and animal barns into the most fabulous accomodations – stylish, creative, well appointed and peaceful.  Surrounded by extreaordinary views in all directions you cannot help but love staying there.

Maria Claudia Sampaio Soares – Bernardo´s Aunt is a gifted potter. She has a pottery locally and provides classes for those interested to try it out.  You can also order things to be made.  We are have several items made by Claudia.  Claudia owns Herdade Dagosto and breeds Lusitanos.

Cláudia Sampaio Soares



We are so happy that now we can offer you the chance to stay on these farm and learn with Bernardo a little about his life, how the horses are trained and worked with the cattle. It is available to up to 4 people per week.  We only offer to small groups per week to ensure you have plenty of opportunity for individual tuition and an immersive experience.

Bernardo will provide all the training during your stay and his gentle confident manner will guide you through a remarkable experince of the working horses and all they need to do their job effortlessly.



Bernardo and Francisca

Rita with the cattle





2023 National Horse Fair in Golegã

Golegã National Horse Fair is almost upon us. 


It’s an opportunity like no other to emmerse yourself in an equestrian feast morning to night.

With the run up to fair this week is a frenzy of activity for those going with their Lusitanos. Many breeders take multiple horses some as many as 20 animals.  So good preparation is is paramount. The horses are inpecability turnouts everyday washed and braided. Costumes, traditional saddlery clean.

Golegã National Horse Fair  3rd – 12th November  2023


Now acclaimed as one of the World´s most prestigeous equestrian event. It is a festival that still embodies Portuguese Equestrian Heritage seemlessly blended with modern equestrian sport.  It is an opportunity like no other to emmerse yourself into an equestrian feast morning to night.



If you are a regular visitor or going for the first time it is lovely to find out a little bit more about this the fair came about –


There is a fasinating history about the fair which was orginally called Feira de São Martinho.


Always Held In November

The Fair is held at the beginning of November over a 10-day period. The dates must include the most important day, 11th November, which is the Dia de São Martinho (the Feast of Saint Martin). On this day the people eat roasted chestnuts and drink new wine for Magusto – Magusto is the celebration of tasting the news wines or Agua Pe and roasting chestnuts.  You can read the full history of this remarkable fair here.




Golegã is considered by many to be the ultimate event to see Lusitanos everything from the young rising stars to established International competition horses. There are a multitude of shows and classes over the 10 days where you can really experience the special qualities of this versatile horse.

The versatility of the Lusitano breed is so elegantly expressed in the events held over the fair –  You will be Captivated!

It is prudent to plan you time to ensure you seize the opportunity to see as many of the events as possible. There is an amount of walking between locations so give yourself time for this in your planning. For the full program go to the official Golegã Page

We would be delighted to meet you at the fair and share sometime with you visiting horses or just a chat over a coffee.  Also during your stay you are welcome to visit us at our yard close to Lisbon airport take some classical dressage lessons or try our Lusitanos for sale.

You can send us a whatsapp message on 00 351 913 175 772 to arrange a get together either in Golega or at our yard.





Text by Teresa Burton. Images by Lena Saugen Photography












Where Horses Coach Humans

Lusitanos Make Great Coaches


A refuge for all the senses – this is the margravial hunting lodge Falkenhaus. Built in 1722, this elegant building is affectionately known as “the Falcon Hood”.  With its recent renovation, the owners Eva and Randolph Klautke have created one of the most beautiful retreats offering well-being for people and animals.

The lodge is located near the Wagner town of Bayreuth on the edge of the Fichtelgebirge.

Creating a symbiosis between the charm of the old castle and the hip boutique character was important to the Klautke family during their conversion.

Accordingly, the palace hall, bar, library and salon were largely left in their original condition and upgraded with modern interior highlights. For the noble four-legged friends, a stable wing was built in the old barn and a riding hall and riding arena were built in the castle garden.

The fantastic ambience of Schloss Falkenhaus is now offering stunning events-

  • Special seminar formats such as horse-assisted coaching – a method in which the horses act as coaches.
  • Welling Being Weekends
  • Coroporate Marketing and Promotional events
  • Weddings

In addition to Shetland pony Harald and Trakehner mare Lilly, the coach team also consists of Lusitano gelding Elmo and the Lusitano stallions Merengue and Egipcio. The latest arrivals are two Lusitano fillies Ofelia and Pirilampo, whom joined the team in 2022.

Horse-Assisted Coaching


In horse-assisted coaching, the horses are the mirror to the human participants. They can highlight and reveal discrepancies such as team conflicts. They reflect our energies and in turn this helps teams to explore relationship topics. This interaction provides a wonderful platform to find ways to resolve old patterns of thought and action. The horses do not need any special training for this coaching, however it is important that the animals have balance and mental strength.  We carefully select horses to suit and enjoy this work.


“There is something about the outside of a horse that is good for the inside of a man.” – Sir Winston Churchill

These experiences can really open people up to new self awareness and communication possibilities in a fun and calm environment.


Eva Klautke: “In our view, their sensitivity, curiosity and people-orientation predestines the Lusitanos for this task as assistant trainers in our seminar formats. We are very pleased that in Teresa Burton and her online platform “” We have a partner at our side who also has a great feel for the individual characters when it comes to brokering and selecting the horses.”


Programmes for Companies and Individuals

In addition to the academy formats for companies such as horse-assisted coaching.  Schloss Falkenhaus also offer the private “wellness” programs, such as yoga retreats and other related short breaks. Here, too, the four-legged mental trainers are usually involved.

“Horses teach us to be present, aware, and connected not only with them, but with ourselves and our environment.” – Lisa Wysocki



Interested you can contact them via their website


You can also email Eva



Traditional Portuguese Farm Holidays

Looking for a taste of

Rural Portuguese Equestrian Heritage –


We are Forming a Partnership with a Beautiful Alentejo Farm to bring you the opportunity to soak up the day to day atmosphere of a working cattle farm and Lusitano stud.

This is a special chance to be on the family farm. The entire family have a multiple of amazing traditional talents and creative skills they are warmly open to share with you.

The holidays will be packed with experiences that bring you closer to rural life on the cattle farm in the Alentejo Region. It is designed to give you an authentic experience of rural life and culture from working with the horses, cows, the wildlife, exploring the land and enjoying the beautiful landspace.



    • You will stay in the farm estate with a manor house over 200 years old
    • Eat local cuisine and home cooking
      You can even try local arts such as pottery
    • Learn how to work the cattle from the backs of Lusitanos
    • Gain new country skills, use a garrocha, and try authentic working equitation obstacles
      Become aquianted with Lusitano breeding programmes
    • Country full day rides to neighbouring farm



    Situated close to the Spanish border the property has some of the most spectacular views, wildlife with expansive sun rises and sun sets.  



    Related articles – Portugal´s Campinos – The Roots of Working Equitation

    Artictle extract – The Campinos are Portugal’s cowboys. To this day, they work the cattle on the backs of Lusitanos, using the traditional methods and skills passed down from their fathers and grandfathers. Their work remains valuable to many large cattle farms in Portugal—especially in the Ribatejo and Alentejo regions.

    All about Working Equitation

    Working Equitation first started as a competitive sport in 1996. The first European Championships took place the same year, in Italy. WE is now a recognized sport in two continents, Europe and South America, in the following countries – France, Spain, Italy, Portugal and Brazil, with a considerable amount of competitors and spectators in each country. WE has its own governing body in each Country.


    The holiday packages and prices will be available shortly please register your interest with us now and we will send out the packages to you as soon as possible.


    Working Equitation WAWE

    We look forward to meeting you on the future holidays.

    Images by Lena Saugen Photography

    Video credit to Equilife World


    The joy of Riding Your Horse Out

    Youngest Pair to Qualify Portugal for a Team Entry in th Tokyo Olympics

    João Torrão riding Lusitano Stallion Equador –

    bred by Coudelaria do Monte Velho

    At Monte Velho a stunning stud farm and luxury riding holiday centre in the Alentejo you will find João Torrão on Equador MVL. Just 25 years old João is the youngest rider to qualify the team his horse Equador is only 10 years.

    João began working at Monte Velho when he was 15 years old he was there to complete a summer internship programme. João fitted in so well he was invited to join the team. Together with Equador they have shared a journey from knowing very little to competing on the International stage, really impressive for two so young.

    João started Equador and trained with him from the beginning. He simply glows when talking about Equador telling me he is a very fun horse to ride, always with some surprises especially when he was around 5 and 6 years discovering his stallion side. Happily in work Equador is focussed and intelligent.

    Making the Commitment to International Competition

    About 4 years ago the manager of Monte Velho, Diogo Lima Mayer observed their potential made the decision to bring on board a trainer that could work with the pair 3 times a week. This was the game changer. The new trainer Coralie Baldrey a graduate of the famed Cadre Noir in Saumur France, brought her talent for working collaboratively with both horse and rider providing the next steps needed to accelerate them to the International stage. Watching the team work together it is easy to see what an excellent decision this was. She is a calm and attentive trainer, valuing the importance of combined training – hacking regularly focus on basics and never over train.

    With Coralie ́s guidance the partnership developed enormously which resulted in the opportunity to train with Carl Hester in the UK. João told me this has been an amazing experience, he learnt so much from one of his greatest inspirations. Since then he is enthusiastically introducing new ideas to his training programme and daily activities for Equador – a stallion paddock was being constructed. He told me he is very motivated by Carl ́s amazing unrelenting positive attitude and how he finds the best in every horse.

    In an interview with Carl Hester on João Torrão and Equador

    “I find Lusitanos are so kind and willing to work, Equador transforms from looking like a cuddly pony in the stable to a real showman in the arena. The pair have achieved so much so young they have the potential to achieve a place in the top 10 world rankings”.

    Carl when onto comment that the work Coralie had done with the pair meant their basics were so well established it made it easy to train the more advanced exercises during their stay.


    A flexible and Varied Training Programme Makes a Happy Horse

    Equador ́s weekly training programme is 2 days out hacking in countryside 4 days in the arena working mostly on the basics and maybe one or two exercises each session. She also works with João on confidence and focus for the competition. A intricate part to becoming an international competitor is our mental capacity and determination, numerous sport legends tell you that mental strength, visualisation and focus are vital keys to success.

    Like Maria Caetano, João has horses to develop and he prefers to do everything himself from grooming, to grazing, hacking and training. He wants to develop a strong bond with each horse, there is no doubt that he has achieved this.

    He is currently ranked 46th in the FEI dressage rankings.

    He has several young horses bred at the stud farm he is bringing on for dressage competition. One in particular is a very promising young horse Maestro MVL standing 175cms he is demonstrating a temperament and talent for high level competition.

    Joao riding Maestro MVL


    Monte Velho – Lusitano Breeding Programme

    Monte Velho have a very specific breeding strategy preferring to have just 5 mares. Each year they carefully select Lusitano stallions that most compliment each mare and potential for dressage competition. This is working out really well for them, to date they have produced some excellent horses that have been sold Internationally for dressage. The mares and foals live in a wide open landscape with many hectares of gentle hills to roam, cork oak trees for shade and a lake for water and bathing. Not sure you could image a better start for young horses.

    Monte Velho Equo Resort – Riding holidays

    The farm also offers high quality riding holidays with beautifully designed accommodation, restaurant, spa area and endless outdoor space. 20 riders per week can enjoy riding schoolmaster Lusitanos in their beautiful arenas surrounded by Alentejo beauty. There is also plenty of other leisure activities available such as biking, hacking, boating and walking.

    See more about their holidays here

    I think we will be seeing a lot in the future from this charming pair – honestly cannot wait!

    Text Teresa Burton Images Bruno Barata

    read about the other qualifiers  Maria Caetano on Coroado,  Rodrigo Moura Torres on FogosoDuarte Nogueira on Beirao

    How they qualified

    Looking for a Lusitano for Dressage we always have a slecetion of high quality Lusitanos for sale check out whats on offer


    Keep up to date with teh World Dressage Rankings at FEI


    Equestrian Haven in Algarve

    Classical Equitation in the Algarve

    Algarve, is the southernmost province of Portugal, famous for it’s breathtaking mediterranean coastline, hot summers and mild, short winters, its friendly, laid back people, top golf courses, delicious traditional cuisine and stunning scenery.

    We have discovered in the heart of this exotic area there is a equestrian escape where you can enjoy beautiful, well trained Lusitano horses and have a great riding experience.

    The WOW Factor

    The riding establishment called Centro Equestre Lusitanus is owned by the charming couple, João Pedro and Iris Miranda. To find out more  we arranged to meet João and Iris one very early morning at a fabulous beach where a wide river meets the ocean. When we arrived João and Iris were already waiting for us with two handsome, braided Lusitanos – a stallion and a mare and what’s more our hosts were dressed up in 18th century costumes. So all we could say was ‘Wow’, what a first encounter!

    Joao Pedro and Iris Miranda Riding on the Beach in AlgarveNeedless to say, it all made for a wonderful photographic opportunity, we had so much fun. Once finished we followed them back to their riding centre Quinta das Cinco Ferraduras – The Five Horseshoe Farm.

    It is clear that João Pedro and Iris’ are both passionate about everything equestrian, both have been riding since they were very young and decided very early in life that they wanted to have professional equestrian careers. João Pedro is from Vila Franca de Xíra close to Lisbon, where he was fortunate to have several years of training with grand classical master, Luís Valença, he performed regularly in the famous Valença shows. Later on João expanded his knowledge within the German doctrine and developed the competition side of his riding with the army in Mafra. Here João Pedro obtained his riding instructor status, in fact he was ranked first in his course 2002. João Pedro stayed with the military school as a riding instructor for some years and also had the opportunity to take part in their shows and compete in several disciplines. Iris is from Algarve but at the age of 15 she moved to Vila Franca to attend the Equine Management course, which then led her to be a riding instructor by the Portuguese Equestrian Federation. Iris has also for many years competed successfully in dressage at national level.

    Four years ago, having worked with Lusitano breeders and at a variety of different riding centres, João Pedro’s and Iris’ lives took a whole new direction. They came together with business partner Ana Afonso Mateus to take on the riding school where Iris rode as a child, Quinta das Cinco Ferraduras. Grabbing the opportunity they began to build the foundations for their own classical riding centre.

    Joao Pedro Miranda piaffe on Lusitano Mare in Algarve

    I could not help but feel inspired by this lovely couple and all they have achieved.

    In fact even while we were chatting there was a hive of activity in the stables, six horses, three dark and three grey, was being prepared. It turned out João Pedro and Iris had planned to give us a classical display together with four of their students. We were led down to the spacious outdoor arena where we could sit back and enjoy a show seated on beautiful old stone seats under the shade of lovely trees. It was great, we were made to feel really special.

    After the show we visited the closest town, Loulé, for a very pleasant lunch at a vegetarian restaurant with a wide range of freshly pressed fruit drinks.

    The afternoon plan was to see Iris and João Pedro give some of their students dressage lessons as well as learn more of the competition side of their riding. They showed us well trained horses of various ages and educational levels.

    classical dressage performance



    Great Bonus

    The day ended with yet another surprise, an in-hand display in the indoor arena, a horse was elegantly shown in piaffe, spanish walk, levade and pesade by João Pedro together with a student. When it was time to leave we were feeling really satisfied with all we had experienced – João Pedro and Iris really managed to show their diversity, we can’t wait to visit them again.


    Both João Pedro and Iris are qualified riding instructors in the Portuguese Equestrian Federation, national dressage judges, competition riders as well as directors and riders of their superb classical shows. All the horses at Centro Equestre Lusitanus compete in dressage, many at a high level.

    Centro Equestre Lusitanus

    even has their own dressage team made up of riders at all ages who are competing successfully in the regional championship. Alongside this the students and all horses regularly take part in the classical shows and displays.


    The riding and training philosophy at Centro Equestre Lusitanus -is a fusion of classical and competitive dressage principles, as João Pedro says:

    “Our riding philosophy respects the very best of what each riding discipline offers in competition dressage and classical dressage. In applying methods and techniques from each style our goal is always that the horses are calm, forward going, straight with impulsion, flexibility and execute the exercises correctly”.

    João Pedro explains

    that they devote much of their time to training of horses and students, their aim is to promote the practice of good horsemanship and to promote the qualities of the extraordinary Lusitano horse which by many is considered the world’s best saddle horse.

    Today João Pedro and Iris have 27 horses in their care out of which almost all are Lusitanos ranging from youngsters to horses established at Grand Prix level. Many of the horses are also to trained to perform movements not executed in the competition arena such as spanish walk, levade, bows and more.

    The equestrian holidays

    offered at Centre Equestre Lusitanus place the needs and wishes of the clients at the front. With João Pedro and Iris it is all about flexibility so their holiday riding programs are all carefully tailored, each riding package is designed based on the wishes of client. During your stay you can have –

    • Classical dressage lessons
      Long reins work in hand lessons
      Specifically dedicated dressage lessons with corrective exercises
      Competition tips and exercises

    Riding Out

    There is also the possibility to hack out in the beautiful surroundings and even beach rides when the season allows it. All of this can also be combined in whatever way you may wish for. Riders at all levels are welcome to stay for however long they want and to have as many lessons per day as they wish.

    LevadeCentro Equestre Lusitanus is situated at Quinta das Cinco Ferraduras,  in Loulé in the centre of what is often referred to as Algarve’s Golden Triangle.

    The Golden Triangle is made up by the towns – Vilamoura, Quinta do Lago and Vale do Lobo – known for having some of the best beaches in the world, great golf courses, and fabulous cuisine with fresh fish available at more or less every restaurant. You can go surfing or visiting Vilamoura Marina – it’s regarded as one of Europe’s best – or why not take a trip to one of the many small, old, villages with narrow cobbled streets and visit the local market or find a small hidden restaurant where sardines are grilled out on the street.

    Centro Equestre lusitanus

    is only 15 minutes away from Faro airport and the accommodation for your stay is too flexible. Algarve is not short of hotels and golf resorts, João Pedro and Iris have good collaboration with a vide range of places to stay, all from local accommodation in Loulé a few kilometres away from the beaches, to four and five star hotels and resorts, you choose what suits you best. They help with airport transfer, car rental, and if needed, and within distance, they can take you to and from the riding centre during your stay.

    We hope to see you soon riding in Portugal’s southernmost region.


    To find out and book your holiday email us with your requirements

    • Length of stay
    • Type of lessons and how many
    • Type of accommodation

    Editorial by Hanna Larsson and Photography by Bruno Barata  first published 2015

    Monte Velho Eco Riding Resort

    Monte Velho Equo Resort

    is one of the most stylish riding holiday destinations I have ever seen.  It opened two years ago and has never looked back, successfully  growing at a fantastic rate.

    It is a family owned business with a number of activities and at the fore front is their Lusitano Horse Breeding. They have a breeding philosophy a little different from most breeders and it’s proving to be a huge success producing  top horses.  Their aim is to breed a small amount of  ‘Sport Lusitanos’ each year – learn more about their stud in our breeders section.

    Monte Velho means ‘Old Estate on a Hill” and there are remains of an ancient Roman Settlement at Monte Velho Resort.

    Diogo Lima MayorThe resort is situated 7 km from Arraiolos at their stud farm (coudelaria). The property is in the heart of typical, almost prehistoric looking landscape of the Alentejo. Vast grey boulders, ancient cork old trees, holn trees, vine yards and long grasses. In the spring it’s an array of bright flowers which eventually turns to shades of greens and greys giving an almost modern Architectual feel. There’s a spiritual quality of times past and lingering thoughts what may have wandered the lands then.  The views are wide open landscape with an expansive sky. At night the sky is a bed of bright stars made brighter for the absence of excessive light pollution.

    What an Entrance!

    We arrived along a dirt track between the impressive boulders through an arched entrance. The white and blue farm buildings are a blend of a traditional Alentejo farm and modern design. The main house and Equo resort architecture  is designed by Arq. Diogo de Lima Mayer, the owner, and the interior design by Margarida de Lima Mayer, his wife. It all flows together organically blending perfectly with the surrounding countryside.

    Diogo de Lima Mayer greets us in the courtyard.

    He a handsome man with a big friendly smile and sparkling eyes.  He whisks us off for a coffee and chat on the patio before a tour around the farm. Coffee and tea is served  in very trendy colourful china. However Lena can barely sit to drink hers, inspired she is immediately busy with her camera with so much to capture she’s off. Despite being a dull day, the grey clouds actually added to cool chic image and drama to the landscape colours.

    On the their website it’s described as a boutique hotel

    but I would describe it as something a bit more than that.  For me the word ’boutique’ suggests something very bedroomsmall, chic and limited to a certain area but here you feel you have the boutique-ness of modern styling and individual space but you also have a feeling of so much more space available to you and there is. I loved the bedroom suites which are very modern in design with comfort and ease to move around.  They have super bathrooms with glass dividing walls and excellent showers.

    Best of all each room has a private balcony looking out the landscape and a lake. I was delighted to see the balconies even have outside showers and comfortable furnishings. The perfect place to relax after riding with a glass of lightly sparkling vinho verde.

    The more public areas are also well designed consisting of  a bar, restaurant, plenty of outside seating and a really cool rooftop swimming pool. Which is surrounded by the boulders so you have the blend of the grey of the stones and fresh aqua of the pool, you can swim while enjoying stunning panoramic views. The sun sets from here are spectacular.


    After our hotel tour we were itching to see the horses and the riding facilities.

    To get to the stables we crossed the sloping courtyard with peacocks and exotic planting.  The stables are a good size in barn stabling, a spacious tack room with modern and Portuguese traditional tack clean and well displayed….. Another example of traditional and modern blending perfectly. The horses were in their stables all calmly munching their hay. Diogo proudly took us into each stable to introduce them.  Most were from their breeding with a couple of other lesson horses. They all looked happy and well. Diogo is sensitive to ensuring the horses are happy so they have paddocks for relaxation time. We saw Diogo’s favourite, now retired stallion in the paddock enjoying life.

    retirementDressage Lessons

    For the riding lessons there are 3 arenas available.  The indoor arena is a good size with a super viewing gallery. Then there is the outside Carriere which has Olympic dimensions (60mx30m) an excellent surface and a seating area for viewing. There is a second 20 by 60 with a roof and bordered with a box hedge.

    In addition to dressage lessons covering all from basics right up to advanced movements on a choice of 14 school  horses you can go riding out in the countryside. Monte Velho has 250 hectares with all the surrounding area being National Ecological Reserve you will not have to ride on any roads but enjoy lakes, dams, soft tracks and 100% nature. Maybe even a picnic ride. You can choice to ride in normal tack or traditional Portuguese for comfort and style.

    Shinning Prospects in Training

    When we arrived at the Carriere we had the pleasure of watching João Torrão riding Equador MVL. What a spectacular young horse he is and with João onboard they make a perfect team.

    Now they are proving themselves in dressage competition.  João is a talented young rider being trained by Paulo Caetano and is showing real potential as an international competition rider. Later Doigo treated us to some fun photographing Equador in liberty. Equador proved to be a natural born star and certainly likes to demonstrate this.

    House Patio

    Lunch was a fabulous affair

    We were invited to enjoy lunch with Diogo and his wife Margarida  at the main house on their patio. What a patio! What an amazing stone table!  Both Lena and I were marveled at just the simple logistics of how they managed to install such a huge stone table top…. Diogo of course is a man that can :-).  The lunch was delicious healthy fresh and imaginative.  The conversation equally delightful. These are people that make a difference and know what makes others happy.  They have style, an eye for detail and a true understanding of customer care.  All in all I think to come for a riding holiday at Monte Velho will be a fabulous experience from your room, food, happy feelings and quality riding. For those that go I am certain will return again and again.

    Even if you are not a rider you can enjoy nature, have a bike, take a boat on the lake or visit the city of Évora, considered World Heritage by UNESCO. Which is only 30 km from the Monte Velho Equo Resort.

    Thank you Diogo and Margarida for such a super visit.

    For further details go to Monte Velho  Getting there fly to Lisbon or Faro and I recommend a hire car. It is certainly worth getting out during your stay  to visit Evora buy some of the wonderful local produce typical to the Alentejo region – such as cheeses, wines, smoked hams and sausages.

    CREDITS – Editorial – Teresa Burton    Photography  – Lena Saugen Photography

    Written May 2015.