For over 30 years the Escola de Equitação de Alcainça has been providing first class dressage instruction. The senior instructor Georges Malleroni studied classical dressage under Nuno Oliveira, the great Portuguese Master.
The centre has beautiful pure-bred and part-bred Lusitano horses, mainly geldings with some stallions. 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 would most likely ride different horses during your stay.
The centre specialises in dressage instruction. 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 4). There is a spacious indoor arena and also a large outdoor arena which is partly covered so two groups can be having 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).
The village of Alcainça is 25km northwest of Lisbon and 5km from the palace of Mafra. Being close to the coast helps assure a nice even temperature throughout the year so that even in July and August it never gets too hot.
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.
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. You should be competent at walk, trot and canter with a willingness and openness to learn.
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. The three main instructors are Georges Malleroni and Paulo Tita. Both have many years experience of instructing at Alcainça. Renato Sousa joined Alcainca in January 2017 and is a professional rider and trainer. It is also possible that additional instructors may be hired if there is a full group or to cover holidays of the main instructors.
Please note that it is not possible to request or guarantee a particular instructor. It is compulsory to wear a helmet during your lesson.
You can arrive and depart on any day and stay for as long as you like. We recommend a stay of at least three nights.
Each day, including weekends, follows a similar pattern. Breakfast is from 8.30 until 9.30. Lunch at 13.00 and dinner from 20.00 (19.30 in winter months).
There are two lessons a day. In the morning from c. 10.30 to
12.00 and in the afternoon from c. 15:30 to 17:00.
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. Riders are welcome to assist in tacking up and untacking their horses although there are also grooms to assist if you are unfamiliar or unwilling to do this.
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.
We recommend you arrive on your first day by early afternoon so that you are in time for your first lesson. The latest arrival time is 6pm, so that you have time to meet with your instructors on the first day. The norm is to have a lesson and lunch on the morning of your departure.
If you are travelling with a non-rider, then you may wish to pre-book just one lesson a day which leaves more time to relax by the pool, watch horses and riders in training or to go on sightseeing trips.
Golega Horse Fair
You can combine a visit to Golega Horse Fair with a holiday at Alcainça. The Golega Horse Fair runs each year in early November. Please call us for details.
The equestrian centre is completely 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 shady places if the sun is strong, but being close to the coast helps assure a nice even temperature throughout the year so that even in July and August it never gets too hot.
There are four en suite twin rooms at the riding centre and a further three rooms just across the road. The rooms are simply decorated, clean and comfortable.
The dining room overlooks the indoor arena. There is also a bar and games room with snooker. There is a large outdoor unheated pool which is open all year.
Open all year. You can arrive and depart on any day.
Open for guests over Christmas and New Year, except no riding on the afternoon of 24 December, on 25 December and 1 January.
GOLEGA HORSE FAIR - Combine your Alcainça holiday with a visit to
the world renowned Golega Horse Fair. This is in early November but the
Fair schedule is not finalised until a few months before. Please
contact us for more information.
Warm and dry for most of the year. During July & August temperatues 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.
Yearly rainfall & temperature
Max. Day (°C)
Min. Night (°C)
Weather is unavailable at this time.
Weather information is obtained from the nearest available weather station.
Portuguese Riding Specialist Abigail Wood
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.
My top tip:
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.