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 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, 3 are purely for trail rides.
Some prior knowledge of dressage is useful to get the most out of dressage instruction, 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.
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. Each lesson begins by riders leading their horse to the arena and walking 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.
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 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.
The owner of Monte Velho is a leading architect and the accommodation has been designed to a very high standard. The dining and guest lounge area is spacious and comfortable with views over the estate. There is a new wellness centre, with exercise area, sauna and rooftop jacuzzi overlooking the lake.
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. There are coffee-making facilities in these rooms.
In the original buildings of the farm, there are two 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. They have twin beds and coffee machines.
Each holiday is tailormade for what you want 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. If you stay for 5 or more nights there is a discounted "long stay" rate which is reflected in the rates below.
We are pleased to accept bookings for 2018 at 2017 rates until next year's prices are released, so please contact us if you would like to book for 2018.
5 NIGHT STAY - LOW SEASON
(January to March; 1 November to 15 December
5 dressage lessons
10 dressage lessons
5 trail rides
5 NIGHT STAY - HIGH SEASON
(1 April to 31 October; 16 December to 6 January)
5 dressage lessons
10 dressage lessons
5 trail rides
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. There is no single supplement in a standard room for stays in low season
PAYABLE LOCALLY Additional alcoholic and soft beverages; gratuities; any excursions to the local area
NEAREST AIRPORT Lisbon
TRANSFERS from Lisbon airport are €110 per vehicle each way (maximum of 4 people) and are payable locally
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 25C and so not too hot for riding. Summer (July/August) can be hot and day time temperatures could reach high 30C's when the swimming pool will be a delight. Winter brings cool days and some rain, with day time temperatures of c. 15C.
Yearly rainfall & temperature
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Weather information is obtained from the nearest available weather station.
Portuguese Riding Specialist Abigail Wood
Dressage paradise set amidst the stunning Alentejo countryside. Monte Velho offers first class tuition on magnificent horses. In between your lessons or trail rides you can watch other lessons going on, or simply relax by the pool or in the rooftop jacuzzi.
My top tip:
Treat yourself - your riding is sure to improve and you will have a wonderful holiday.