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For over 30 years the equestrian school at Alcainça has been providing first class dressage instruction. The school horses are trained to a high level of performance and are able to do shoulder in, half pass, flying changes, piaffe and passage. Some are very highly trained horses for experienced riders and there are also school masters for those starting out in dressage. Depending on your experience level you will most likely ride different horses during your stay.
There is an indoor arena and also a large outdoor arena which is partly covered so two groups can have lessons at the same time. Most people pre-book to have two lessons a day which will mean that most of your day will be taken up with horses and riding; however, if you are staying a week then you may wish to have one afternoon free for sightseeing. A driver is available to take you to places of interest in the area including the Portuguese School of Equestrian Art at Queluz; Mafra or Lisbon (extra charge).
Whatever your level of riding the combination of these wonderful horses and the high quality of instruction available is sure to develop your dressage skills.
The centre has beautiful pure-bred and part-bred Lusitano horses mainly geldings with some mares and stallions. Dressage saddles with double bridles are used, but some horses are ridden in snaffle bridles.
You should be competent at walk, trot and canter, with a willingness and openness to learn. Some prior knowledge of dressage is useful to get the most out of your holiday, for instance, an understanding of lateral movements such as shoulder-in and half pass. Prior to or during your first lesson you will have an opportunity to discuss with your instructor what you are currently doing and what you would like to achieve.
Lessons (each of 1.5hrs duration) are scheduled for the morning and again in the afternoon. Riders are split according to their ability and the lesson size is normally two or three to a group (maximum four). Private lessons are occasionally possible (at a supplement) but cannot be guaranteed.
The main instructors are Mario Cardoso and Sergio Henriques. They have worked and trained with a number of Lusitano breeders, dressage competitors and professional riders in Portugal. Well-educated in classical dressage and working equitation, they are both very accomplished riders in their own right. It is also possible that additional instructors may be hired if there is a full group or to cover holidays of the main instructors. It is not possible to request or guarantee a particular instructor.
Hard hats are compulsory.
The equestrian centre is self contained; a short walk takes you from your room to the stables to the indoor arena and the dining room which overlooks it.
There are a total of five bedrooms at the riding centre each with en-suite bathroom. Rooms 1 and 2 are twin rooms with shower; Room 3 can be a twin or double and has a bath; Room 4 has a double bed and a single bed and has a bath; Room five has a double bed and shower.
The rooms are simply decorated, clean and comfortable. There is also a bar, games room and a large outdoor unheated swimming pool.
Open all year. You can arrive and depart on any day. From 2023 there is no riding on Sundays.
Sample Itinerary for Alcainca
The riding centre is normally open for guests over the Christmas and New Year period, except there is no riding on the afternoon of 24 December, on 25 December or on 1 January.
Select your preferred arrival date:
The price (per night) depends on whether you plan for one or two lessons a day and your stay can have a mixture of both. All lessons are shared.
|Per night||Programme A||Programme B||Non-rider|
|(2 lessons per day)||(1 lesson per day)|
|2022: Nov - Dec||$217.06||$178.71||$110.29|
|2023: Jan - Feb||$210.51||$174.05||$105.78|
|2023: Mar - Oct||$263.15||$217.58||$132.23|
|2023: Mar - Oct (stays of 10 nights or more)||$210.51||$174.05||$105.78|
|2023: Nov - Dec||$236.84||$195.82||$119.01|
INCLUDES Accommodation; full board from dinner on day of arrival to lunch on day of departure; wine with meals; instruction as per programme.
SINGLE SUPPLEMENT No single supplement if willing to share. If you wish to guarantee a single room the supplement is $39.30 per night.
PAYABLE LOCALLY Tips; non-riding excursions; laundry; supplement for private lessons if available ($60.42 per lesson.
NEAREST AIRPORT Lisbon.
TRANSFERS from Lisbon airport cost $64.14 per vehicle each way and $76.74 from Lisbon city.
We can arrange transfers from the nearest airport (Lisbon). Or you may prefer to hire a car and self-drive which is recommended if you wish to explore widely. The journey time is approximately 30 minutes from Lisbon airport.
We recommend you arrive in the early afternoon so that you can have your first lesson that afternoon or at least have time to meet the instructors. Latest arrival is 6pm. There is no discount for later arrival.
The norm is to have a lesson on the morning of your departure and lunch is included on your final day.
Please note that for 2023, there is no riding available on Sundays.
Alcainça is 25km northwest of Lisbon and 5km from the palace of Mafra.
Warm and dry for most of the year. During July & August temperatures can rise above 30°C but being close to the coast means that it does not become too uncomfortable for riding. The wettest months are October to March when it can also feel cold, particularly in the evening.
Had a very enjoyable experience learning the more advanced moves of dressage on school master horses. All of the horses I rode at Alcainca were well trained, safe but forward! Instruction was clear and easy to follow. Very enjoyable holiday for dressage enthusiasts!
Would recommended this holiday for riders who have a knowledge of dressage and are wanting to improve in a classical way. However it is probably not suitable for beginner riders.
Katherine ,CambridgeshireOverall rating: 4/5
If you are serious about dressage then at Alcainça you will ride some excellent horses and get to feel the movements. The lessons are intensive but very enjoyable.
If you aren't already familiar with it you might want to read up a bit about the life and teachings of Nuno Oliveira and other Classical Dressage books.