Established in 1985, Epona is world renowned for its highly trained Spanish horses and the superb level of Dressage training offered to riding holiday guests.
Epona enjoys stunning views towards the mountains of the Sierra Morena and is surrounded by unpaved, and unfenced, farm trails which wind their way through olive groves, orange and peach orchards, almond plantations and then fields and fields of sunflowers, cotton and wheat.
Ancient Hacienda’s cast wise and watchful eyes over the surrounding landscape and then suddenly, remnants of the Roman Empire fill your eye to remind you just how steeped in history this area is. The best way to explore this typically Andalucian countryside is on horse back. This is why it is possible to include a trail ride alongside any of the riding programmes Epona offers.
All guests to Epona are treated to home made traditional Andalusian lunches, served, of course, with local Spanish wine.
Finally, let’s not forget the location. Epona lies in the heart of Andalucia, nestled between the vibrant and historical city of Seville and the oldest continually inhabited medieval town of Carmona, which boasts an extraordinary array of architecture.
This region of Spain is where the Spanish Horse, Flamenco Dancing and Sherry originated. The cities of Jerez to the west and Cordoba to the east and Granada to the south, are destinations in their own right. Excellent road and rail links and the international airport in Seville, combine to offer superb access throughout Spain and beyond.
Epona is based in an idyllic location for travellers, as well as those passionate about horses. It is no wonder so many guests return over and over again.
History of the Centre
Fernando and Jane Garcia own the Hacienda and will be running your Riding Holiday, with help from Caty and Vivi, their daughters, and the rest of the Epona team.
Fernando is a Spanish citizen born in Guatemala. He has lived in various countries such as Italy, Mexico (where he completed his University studies as an architect), Los Angeles (U.S.A.), Colombia and finally Spain. Jane was born in Scotland, and moved to Colombia where she worked as a schoolteacher and in the British Consulate. There, Jane and Fernando met, married and had their two daughters.
They both have life long experience with horses, as Fernando grew up riding on his farm in Guatemala and competed successfully in show jumping as young man; Jane started riding aged 10 in the local riding school where she worked in exchange for rides. They lived together in Colombia for 8 years where they taught riding and bred horses.
The Garcia Family moved to Spain in 1982 and after three years looking for ideal spot, they finally bought the 500 hundred year old Hacienda “Los Nietos”, which they renamed “EPONA”.
Fernando and Jane slowly began to renovate, buy horses, etc., while Caty and Vivi grew up immersed in the building of the business and became competitive riders winning prizes in pony competitions first and then in dressage and show jumping. Now they both work at Epona teaching and training horses.
Perfect new location
By a series of happy coincidences, 1985 Jane and Fernando stumbled upon Hacienda Los Nietos, and over the years, they turned a fairly run down but beautiful property into an internationally renowned rider training centre known throughout the world as Epona.
Fast forward 35 years and the now extended Garcia family have had yet another happy coincidence. The beautifully located Hacienda Blanca Paloma, situated literally 1 km from the original Epona, came onto the market.
Its more rural setting, extensive acreage, surrounding open farmland and olive groves, its elevated position with a gentle breeze, along with the stunning views as far as the mountains of the Sierra Morena, all combined to make it the perfect location for a new and improved Epona.
The vision and passion that the entire Garcia family has put into the new Epona has resulted in a state of the art rider and horse training and holiday facility.
Original stables and barns have been tastefully converted into staff accommodation, offices and beautiful lounges and terraces for the guests.
The wonderful horses, that are the heart of Epona, now live in a luxurious American barn, designed with the Spanish climate in mind, and this is surrounded by paddocks, stallion turn out pens and hay fields.
Epona’s own land flows seamlessly into the stunning Andalusian countryside that surrounds them.
It is no wonder the horses, and the Garcia family, settled so quickly into their new home.
The renovations did not stop here though. A 20m x 40m outdoor arena, encompassed by an all weather exercise track, and a 20m x 60m indoor arena, complete with an international standard sand and fibre surface, were installed.
All three surfaces are irrigated and immediate landscaping includes over 250 Seville roses along with 22 jacaranda trees and numerous Seville orange trees to create much needed summer shade.
“I am thrilled with the end result” says Vivi. ‘The horses love the environment and are extremely happy in their new home. The riding and guest facilities combine to allow us to give our wonderful riders from around the world an even better holiday experience. We now have the acreage to allow many of our horses to live out all the time, which they love. It all just feels like a dream come true and as a family, we are so excited about the new era for Epona.’
Repeat guests are also loving the new Epona
The continued vision and passion of the Garcia family means that Epona is in very safe hands indeed. Here’s to the next 35 years!
The British Horse Society Award
In 2003 Jane was honored to receive the British Horse society overseas award.
This award was presented to Jane by the Minister of Foreign affairs Mr. Robin Cook in recognition for the service to the British horse society that Epona and Jane have done over the years.
The British Horse society has never presented and award such as this one to a centre outside of the United Kingdom.
History of the name “Epona”
The Garcia Family decided to name their equestrian center "EPONA", after discarding a long list of names related to horses.
By chance, reading a book about the Ancient Celts and their mythology, they found out that EPONA was a goddess protector of horses, represented by a white mare.
Since Jane is native of Scotland, and Fernando descends directly from an Asturian Family, both Celtic Regions, they both agreed that EPONA would be the perfect name.
And therefore, later, when Fernando designed the Epona emblem and logo, we decided to include a white mare floating in a deep blue sky.
The Epona Instructors are qualified by the British Horse Society, Association of British Riding Schools, International Equestrian Tourism Federation and the Spanish Equestrian Federation . They are all fluent in English.
For Epona Instructors, the pupils learning and enjoyment is the main priority as well as safety and the horse’s wellbeing, while always keeping in mind the principles and objectives of Classical Dressage. Our horses and instructors are prepared to cater for riders of all levels from beginners to advanced.
Beginners will hugely benefit from the lessons because although things are kept simple, you know that your basic skills will be correct and solid, enabling you to pursue whichever discipline you choose down the road. At a more basic level, lessons will focus on the riders balance, seat, position and control, while at the same time gaining conﬁdence in the three gaits of walk, trot and canter.
When working with more experienced riders, instructors will be giving guidance towards riding your horse in a correct outline, straightness, balance, rhythm, etc. As the week progresses lateral movements such as shoulder in, travers, renvers, half pass, and depending on the riders level and ability and which programme you have signed up on, flying changes, pirouettes, and high school movements such as passage , piaffe and Spanish walk.
Epona’s team of Instructors is led by Vivi Garcia.
Vivi was born in Colombia and is fluent in English and Spanish. Vivi started riding when she was three and began competing when she was ten, and has been a successful competitor in both show jumping and dressage.
Vivi is a Graduate from the prestigious Royal Andalusian School of Equestrian Art, having completed the four year course which honours her with the title of “Jinete” (rider). For two of those years she was mentored by the famous Olympic Silver Medallist, Rafael Soto, with whom she still trains and confers with on a regular basis.
Prior to her apprenticeship at the Royal School of Equestrian Art, Vivi trained with many different riders and trainers of international relevance both in Spain and the UK.
This depth and breath of experience has allowed her to develop sound and successful training methods, following Classical Principles, that benefit both the horses and riders she trains.
Vivi is a Spanish Equestrian Federation, Association of British Riding Schools and British Horse Society Certiﬁed instructor. Vivi is supported by a team of experienced and knowledgeable Instructors and Trail Ride leaders.
They follow the same classical dressage principles as Vivi which results in a coherent training structure across all the programmes Epona offers, regardless of the riders ability or the programme they are on.
Their aim is to pass on this knowledge, keeping in mind the principles and objectives of Classical Dressage, regardless whether to a first time rider or a lifetime rider.
Caty is British Horse Society , Association of British Riding Schools and Spanish Equestrian Federation certified Instructor.
She has been riding since she was three and started competing when she was 12 in show jumping and dressage. She has dedicated her whole life to horses and training students. Her riding experience includes training in different European countries, such as Great Britain, Switzerland and France under International and Olympic trainers. She has also spent some time training in the Royal School in Jerez and in Saumur (France), home of the famous Cadre Noir.
Caty speaks Spanish, English, French and Italian fluently. She also holds a University degree in Marketing and Public Relations. Caty presently lives in Italy but she and her husband have plans to move back to Spain, and Epona, in the near future.
Michele joined us in January 2020 and brings with her a lifetime of equine experience. She has regularly ridden at Epona over the last 15 years and as a result she is fully familiar with our training systems and horses.
Michele’s diverse CV includes:
Director of Riding at the UK’s most expensive public school, Head of Equine Studies at three UK colleges, Centre Manager at World Horse Welfare, the UK’s leading equine rescue and rehabilitation centre and Managing Director of a large outer London equestrian competition venue.
Michele was responsible for the quarantine and training camp for the British show jump team prior to the Beijing Olympics and Kentucky World Equestrian Games and provided training facilities for the UK Paralympic team on numerous occasions.
Michele’s passion though is teaching equitation to riders of all levels. ‘If they would like to learn, I would love to teach them’ is a common phrase of Michele’s!
Michele is a qualified British Horse Society Instructor, has competed successfully to Prix St George dressage and Intermediate horse trials level and has been fortunate enough to have trained with a diverse range of internationally renowned riders and trainers, all of whom had an aptitude for dressage.
The Riding Programmes
Over the past 35 years, Epona has developed an unparalleled selection of riding programmes, that cater for a wide range of riders.
The team at Epona takes pride in the fact they can cater for riders of all abities and confidence levels whether a lifetime rider or a first time rider.
As each course, and lesson, is tailored to the needs of the participants, don’t feel that your riding ability may hold others back. If you are a very experienced rider, don’t worry that your progress will be limited.
The trail and training programme also includes a ride through the Doñana Natural Park culminating in long trots and canters along the beach. Whilst many establishments suggest beach riding is included, this can often not be the case as beach riding is prohibited in many parts of Spain.
Where it is allowed it is usually only before 8am in the morning. Epona is privileged to have beach access for up to three hours a day, excepting through July and August. Combined with riding through the amazing landscape that surrounds Epona itself, the trail riding experience that is offered makes for a wonderful contrast to the more formal lessons.
Whether you want to dedicate your holiday exclusively to improving your dressage skills , take it more easy getting to know this lovely part of the country while combining lessons with trails or don´t want to do lessons at all and would rather be on the trails, we have a programme for you. These are the 8 options we offer:
Accompanying Non Riders
Accompanying non riders are more than welcome. In summary:
We look forward to welcoming you!
Why choose Epona
Horses for all levels
Our large number of highly trained horses and well thought out programmes, enable us to accommodate beginners through to advanced riders.
Our qualified instructors bring a wealth of riding and training experience to the lessons.
Personal and close attention from the García family, will make you feel like a valued guest and friend.
World class facilities
Top class facilities (including covered arena) and ancient trail riding routes, are complemented by luxury accommodation in the medieval town of Carmona.
Our programmes combine riding with the historical, cultural and scenic experiences our unique location offers.
Ideal riding holiday climate
We enjoy an average of 300 days of sunshine.
Unique in Spain
The only riding holiday centre in Spain officially approved by the British horse society.
We offer 35 years of uninterrupted experience in hosting and training riding holiday guests from around the world.
Came back from our 10th visit in March, and plan to go back next year. Need I say more, it´s just the most amazing place.
Dressage Clinic with Rafael Soto
Fernando, Jane, Caty, Vivi, this has been the best trip I have ever taken, everything was perfect, the horses, the land and the hospitality.
Classical dressage and High School training
Could it get any better? Great horses, fantastic instructor, wonderful meals and a real family feel. A gem to be treasured.
You can contact us directly by sending us a message through this form.