There’s a place in the countryside of Portugal on the outskirts of Lisbon where one can go to learn the art of classical Dressage. Morgado Lusitano is located at Quinta de Portela, an elegant country estate built in 1775 and established as an equestrian center in 2005. Built by the Marquis of Castelo Melhor, Morgado Lusitano now offers all the modern conveniences in a historical setting.
With a mountain top view of the valley below with the Tagus River, one feels like nobility when walking around the estate.
Morgado Lusitano offers equestrian holidays as an intensive training program with two lessons a day on highly trained Lusitano Stallions. While out of the saddle, riders are treated to freshly prepared full course meals, which can be enjoyed al fresco when the weather is pleasing.
And if it gets a bit warm in the afternoon, a cool pool stands invitingly.
Changing mounts in each lesson continues to challenge the rider to improve their riding ability. Within a five-day period, I rode seven different stallions in ten lessons. My favorite of the barn was Nordeste. Who could ever resist this face?
The stallions in the stables at Morgado Lusitano are of the highest caliber of training and temperament. Mind you, I was a bit concerned about riding stallions in the first place. Known for their strength and athleticism, stallions can be a handful, to put it mildly.
By riding both highly trained horses helps to understand what an upper level movement, when well executed, should feel like. Then being placed on a lesser trained stallion helps to hone the rider’s ability to properly ask for the moves desired.
Nordeste is one of the older and wiser stallions in the stables. As an amateur rider, I frequently sent mixed messages to Nordeste when asking for an advanced movement. He’d go through his repertoire in attempts to guess at what I was asking for. Spanish Walk? No. Passage? No. Trot? YES !
Nordeste is such a forgiving soul, putting up with my getting in his way, and being awkward with my aids. But Nordeste is also a wonderful teacher. My favorite part of riding Nordeste? When I truly was out of his way and quietly asked for a half-pass, he just floated to the wall. What an awesome feeling!
I have yet to make plans for my 2013 vacation – which is quite rare. By now, my trip has been decided on, booked and paid for. I’ve got a number of great ideas, but somehow Nordeste keeps coming to mind. I think I need to go and pay him another visit.