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Posted on September 10, 2019
Debbie and Imogen Parry entered a prize draw at the Olympia Horse Show in London and won a 3 night stay at Monte Velho, Portugal. Debbie has kindly written a blog about their stay:
My daughter, Imogen, and I went to the Olympia Horse Show last December as we have done for many years. As always, we visited the “In the Saddle” stand and almost didn’t bother entering the competition to win a free riding holiday.
I NEVER win anything, but we had retired our beloved pony, Toffee, the year before (not a euphemism – he’s loving his life living feral in a field with lots of grass and other horsey friends) so we were really missing our riding. We had always dreamt of having a riding holiday together, so we entered. I was astounded to learn a few days later that we had won a three-day holiday at the Monte Velho stud farm in Portugal.
We liaised with another Imogen at In the Saddle who was extremely helpful, and we soon had our trip booked.
We arranged to extend the trip to have 3 nights in Cascais first where we stayed in a great B&B that I had spotted on a trip the year before. It was a great centre to explore the palaces of Sintra and we could get the train into Lisbon to explore there too. A highlight was watching the Eurovision Song Contest in the public lounge – drinking delicious Vinho Verde – though our efforts to encourage other guests to join us were not successful!
Then we headed off inland in our hired Fiat 500. The drive was really easy, the roads were clear and the scenery picturesque. We really loved seeing the storks in their nests in the electricity pylons along the way.
The stud is set within beautiful countryside with stunning architect designed accommodation overlooking a lake. They breed and train Lusitanos and have horses trained up to Grand Prix level.
We had a standard room which was beautiful, comfortable and well equipped with both an inside and outside shower!
There were cats, dogs and peacocks wandering around. A lovely pool and spa area. Plus, we could walk down and see the mares with their new foals in the pasture.
Meals were taken at a large communal table in a dining room overlooking the Olympic sized outdoor ménage. The food was excellent, and Imogen’s vegetarian dietary needs were well met with individually cooked dishes. We loved meeting guests from around the world; fellow Brits plus Danish, Swedish, Dutch, Chinese, Australian and American riders. All were far superior to us in riding ability and experience (a few were high level dressage judges!) but everyone was very friendly. Diogo, the owner’s son, organised a wine tasting on one evening that included some of the wines produced on the farm’s vineyard.
But the trip was always going to be about the riding, and this didn’t disappoint! Our first ride was a trail ride across the farm. Stunning scenery and beautifully behaved horses – we have never done a collected canter before on a hack!
On our second day we had the first of three dressage lessons. We were slightly nervous about whether our riding ability was up to this, especially when we were told we needed to use a double bridle and wear spurs. The instructors were superb, very encouraging and never made us feel bad about our lack of experience. And the horses! So well trained and responsive, a joy to ride. And the huge outdoor arena with a mirror covering the narrower end meant you could look on in awe at the magnificent horse you were on. I feel our confidence and ability really improved after just three lessons – all on different horses and all with different instructors.
We had a final trail ride with the Diogo on his stunning stallion. We rode down to a lake and through the water and had some lovely exhilarating canters through wide open spaces.
We loved our time at Monte Velho and our rating would be “superb”. I have already recommended the resort to horsey friends at home.
Thank you so much to “In the Saddle” and Monte Velho for giving us this opportunity – we hope to be back one day!