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There are a number of reasons to put a riding holiday at Monte Velho Stud Farm, in the heart of the Alentejo, at the top of your bucket list.
First – the horses. Diogo Lima Mayer, owner of the award-winning Monte Velho Stud Farm, is famous nationally and internationally as one of the best breeders of the Lusitano horse and his horses have continued their dressage careers throughout Europe and Brazil. Seeing the broodmares and young horses and learning about the breeding programme will be a highlight for many visitors.
You can choose a programme of lessons (one or two a day) or lessons with trail rides or just enjoy trail rides without lessons. On the trail rides you set off from the farm onto the estate which lies inside an ecological reserve and also onto neighbouring properties. This is a really unspoilt area and you ride over large grassy areas, by lakes and along tracks through the cork oak plantations.
Second – the accommodation. The ‘Monte’ or main building of the farm dates back to the Roman era with several additions over the years to create a traditional Alentejo farmhouse. Diogo, a leading architect, has designed an extension which provides really stunning accommodation.
Third – this area of the Alentejo is very beautiful and has a perfect climate and even if you don’t venture off the veranda you will be enchanted by the peacefulness and isolation. If you do go exploring then a highlight for most people is to visit the city of Evora (30 minutes away) which is a UNESCO World Heritage site.
There are currently about 20 Lusitano horses at Monte Velho available for guests. Some for experienced dressage riders are trained to a very high standard and can do the Grand Prix exercises. Of these 20 horses 7 are used for the trail rides.
Dressage saddles and double bridles are used but there are also some traditional Portuguese saddles which can be used on the trail rides.
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 instruction for instance an understanding of lateral movements such as shoulder-in and half pass.
There may be more than one lesson going on at the same time but each lesson has a maximum of two riders. You will work in open order. You may be asked to lead your horse to the arena and walk them round to warm them up a little before mounting.
Lessons may be taken in the indoor arena, in the covered school or in the full size outdoor arena. The riding schedule is displayed in the dining room and will show the timing of your rides and who will be your instructor/guide. Lessons are from 9 to 12 in the morning and from 2:30 to 4:30pm in the afternoon.
The instructors at Monte Velho work on a rota. We cannot guarantee a specific instructor and you may receive lessons from each member of the teaching team during your stay. The main teaching squad are João Torrão, Bernardo Neves and Anne-Sylvie Krapf.
Those choosing trail rides either one or two rides a day will enjoy riding out from the farm onto the estate which lies inside an ecological reserve and also onto neighbouring properties. The pace will be leisurely but usually there are some opportunities for trot and canter. There is normally one trail ride in the morning and another in the afternoon but in the hot summer months there is normally only one trail ride a day in the morning.
There is a rider weight limit of 90kg (in riding clothes) and currently only one dressage horse able to take this weight so please check with us in advance.
Hard hats are mandatory on this ride.
The owner of Monte Velho is a leading architect and the accommodation has been designed to a very high standard.
There are seven premium rooms with en suite bathrooms. The premium rooms are furnished to a very high standard with a large picture window and veranda looking out onto the countryside. Two have large double beds whilst the others can be either doubles or twins.
In the original buildings of the farm there are two twin bedded standard rooms which look out over the lake. Each has an en suite bathroom. These rooms are smaller, but are furnished to an equally high standard.
The dining and guest lounge area is spacious and comfortable with views over the estate.
There is a wellness centre with exercise area, sauna and rooftop jacuzzi overlooking the lake.
Sunday and Wednesday are preferred arrival days. The minimum stay is three nights. There is no riding on Sunday and no riding on arrival days.
Please note that availability at Monte Velho can change so quickly that the chart below may show space when in fact all the rooms are full. Therefore, please always email email@example.com and we will get back to you to confirm availability for your preferred dates.
Select your preferred arrival date:
Each holiday is tailormade according to what you wish to do. It is possible to have just dressage lessons (1 or 2 per day) or just trail rides (1 or 2 per day) or a combination of both (maximum 2 riding sessions per day). Riding is available every day except no riding on Sunday. It is not normally possible to book to ride on your arrival day.
If you stay for five or more nights there is a discounted "long stay" rate which is reflected in the rates below. The accommodation price can be significantly lower for stays of five nights or more. Please contact us for availability.
|PRICE FOR 5 NIGHT STAY||5 dressage lessons||10 dressage lessons||5 trail rides||non-rider||single supplement|
|2023: 26 Nov - 23 Dec||standard room||$1,235.30||$1,852.95||$898.40||$589.58||$0.00|
|2023: 24 - 31 Dec||standard room||$1,347.60||$1,909.11||$982.63||$786.10||$224.60|
|2024: 1 Jan - 24 Feb||standard room||$1,319.53||$1,937.18||$982.63||$701.88||$0.00|
|2024: 25 Feb - 30 Mar||standard room||$1,516.05||$2,133.71||$1,179.15||$898.40||$196.53|
|2024: 31 Mar - 29 Jun||standard room||$1,740.65||$2,470.61||$1,403.75||$1,010.70||$252.68|
|2024: 30 Jun - 31 Aug||standard room||$1,516.05||$2,133.71||$1,179.15||$898.40||$196.53|
|2024: 1 Sep - 2 Nov||standard room||$1,740.65||$2,470.61||$1,403.75||$1,010.70||$252.68|
|2024: 3 - 30 Nov||standard room||$1,516.05||$2,133.71||$1,179.15||$898.40||$196.53|
|2024: 1 - 21 Dec||standard room||$1,319.53||$1,937.18||$982.63||$701.88||$0.00|
|2024: 22 - 31 Dec||standard room||$1,740.65||$2,470.61||$1,403.75||$1,010.70||$252.68|
INCLUDES Accommodation; all meals from dinner on day of arrival through to lunch on day of departure; wine with lunch and dinner (maximum one bottle for 2 persons); soft drinks with lunch and dinner; coffee/tea with meals; riding as per programme.
SINGLE SUPPLEMENT Payable for those in a single room.
PAYABLE LOCALLY Additional alcoholic and soft beverages; gratuities; any excursions to the local area.
NEAREST AIRPORT Lisbon.
TRANSFERS from Lisbon airport are €140 and transfers from Lisbon city are €160 (transfer prices for 2024 to be confirmed). Prices are per vehicle each way (maximum of four people) and transfers are payable locally.
We can arrange transfers from/to Lisbon airport at a cost of €140 per vehicle one way, or from/to Lisbon City for €160 per vehicle one way. If there are other guests arriving / leaving at similar times, then these costs are shared between all those travelling (max 4 people per vehicle), but you will be charged the full amount if you are the only passenger.
Alternatively, you may prefer to hire a car and drive to Monte Velho, which is recommended if you wish to explore more widely. The journey time from Lisbon is approximately one and a half hours.
Check-in to your room is possible from 16:00, although you may arrive earlier and make use of the main facilities until your room is ready. The recommended latest arrival time is 18:00 so that you can settle into your room in time for dinner. If your flight is arriving in Lisbon after 16:00 you must use the transfer service rather than self-driving so that the transfer driver can show you to your room.
On your departure day you may book to ride and have lunch, but you will need to vacate your room by noon so that it can be made ready for arriving guests.
Monte Velho lies in the Alentejo region about and hour and a half drive east of Lisbon.
The Alentejo has hot, dry summers and mild winters. Spring (April to June) and Autumn (September to October) are a lovely time to visit. The days should be pleasantly warm with day time temperatures up to 25°C and so not too hot for riding. Summer (July/August) can be hot and day time temperatures could reach high 30°C's when the swimming pool will be a delight. Winter brings cool days and some rain, with day time temperatures of c. 15°C.
Our fourth visit, best ever (so far). We've already rebooked for next year, there just doesn't seem to be a dressage based holiday experience anywhere else in Europe that ticks all our boxes enough to make us want to try elsewhere. So Monte Velho is it.
James, SurreyOverall rating: 5/5