Andalusian horse and culture
Andalusian Horse and Culture
This is a seven night, six day programme that combines Dressage Lessons or Trail Riding with Cultural Excursions to Jerez, Seville, Carmona and Cordoba.
Guests have the option of five group Dressage Lessons OR four Trail Rides (approximately 8 to 10 hours trail riding), across the week. Whichever you choose, your week will be interspersed with visits to some of the most beautiful and historical heritage sites in Andalusia.
The group Dressage Lessons Option (group lessons are typically made up of two to three riders at a similar level and never more than four) are designed to help riders improve their confidence, skills and abilities whilst following Classical Dressage principles. Lessons are progressive, safe, fun but very informative. You will feel your riding and knowledge develop as the week progresses.
If you choose the Trail Ride Option, you will enjoy riding through the stunning Andalusian countryside that surrounds Epona. You will ride through fields of wheat, sunflowers and cotton, through olive groves and past historical Hacienda’s and Roman remains with nothing other than bird song and the breeze rustling through the crops to disturb your thoughts.
During your stay you will enjoy Cultural Excursions to the heart of Carmona, Seville, Jerez and Cordoba alongside typical Andalusian cooking classes conducted in our own kitchens.
Our weight limit for this programme is 95kg.
This programme can only be offered for groups of a minimum of 5 (maximum 12) including non-riders. Epona will offer set dates so you can join a group or you can make up a group with friends and partners and choose a week. In this second case , we can even tailor the programme if you wish make some changes. (more info on this at the end of the itinerary description).
Who is this programme for?
This programme is designed for those who are passionate about horses and who wish to learn more about the Spanish horse, also known Andalusian or PRE, but equally want to learn and visit as much of Andalusia as possible during their stay.
This programme is also ideal if you have a none riding companion travelling with you.
It is also designed for those who feel that they are not yet riding fit enough for more than one ride a day.
Typically, our Cultural Programme riders are adults, with no upper age restriction.
The Trail Ride option suits riders who are comfortable in steady trots and occasional balanced canters, on well manned but responsive horses, along open trails.
It is also suitable for beginners who want to take it easy on steady trail rides with an option not to canter, if preferred, or confidence building lessons.
Please note : If you are not yet comfortable or confident riding along open trails in rising trot and canter, please let us know. We can arrange a bespoke trail riding experience for you.
The Dressage Lesson option is suitable for riders of all levels as we can split the groups accordingly.
Many of our Cultural Programme riders want to enjoy a deeper appreciation of the history and culture that makes this region of Andalusia what is is.
After all, Andalusia is where the Spanish Horse, Flamenco and Sherry originated!
Our weight limit for this programme is 95kgs.
Please note: Our advanced dressage horses are reserved for our pure dressage programmes so we can’t guarantee these will be available for this programme´s lessons.
Where do you stay
Your accommodation is in a 4* hotel, complete with a swimming pool, nestled in the nearby medieval town of Carmona, one of the famous white villages of Andalucia.
Carmona is the oldest continually inhabited town in Europe and as you stroll through the narrow streets of the old town, you will feel and breathe the spirits of ancient cultures (Iberians, Visigoths, Phoenicians, Romans, Moors), in the innumerable examples of their architectural influence in the churches, towers, palaces and mansions as well as in the inherited customs.
Carmona is one of Europe’s hidden gems and is a destination in its own right. You will never tire of wandering the streets and will discover that its timeless beauty changes from sunrise to sunset, and then at night. Carmona takes on a magical glow that will leave you spellbound. With at least fifty six small cafes and bars, you will be spolied for choice when it comes to a bite to eat or a refreshing drink.
Daily Itinerary and Cost
Guests usually arrive in the afternoon and settle in to their hotel, an old Palace, former residence of a Queen, which is nestled in the heart of the breathtakingly beautiful medieval town of Carmona.
In the evening, you will be joined at the hotel by one of the Epona hosts, for a welcome dinner, where you will meet the rest of the week’s riding members.
After some friendly introductions and conversation, you are free to spend the rest of the evening at your leisure, and to relax before the beginning of what we hope will be an unforgettable week.
Welcome to Epona!
You will be collected from the hotel and on arrival at Epona, you will have a short guided tour.
Riders will mount up for the ‘Old Hacienda Ride’, a relaxed trail ride around the immediate coutryside, through olive groves and eucalyptus trees.
Depending on the season, you could see fields of sunflowers, wheat and cotton, as well as melons and water melons in late summer. The ride takes you past impressive 16th and 17th century Haciendas and Cortijos, steeped in history.
Your first group lesson will allow our instructors to assess your strengths and any areas that need working upon throughout the week. Our lessons offer a great opportunity to improve your school work, position and dressage skills and they will also teach you how to communicate better with your horse. Group sizes are usually of 2 or 3 riders at a similar level, and never larger than 4.
Lunch at Epona.
A guided tour of Carmona, which is where your hotel is located.
You will enjoy a walking tour of this beautiful and incredibly historic town.
Built on a hill overlooking a huge valley, the town lies at the foot of the majestic Sierra Morena mountain range. At the time of Julius Cesar it was one of the most important cities in Spain. You will find many remainders of the Roman and Moorish presence, as can be seen in the city walls, the squares and fountains that embellish the town.
Finally, in 1247 Ferdinand III of Castile conquered the city, opening a breach in the defensive walls. Over time, churches, buildings and monasteries were built, turning Carmona into one of the most beautiful and historic towns in Andalucia.
To quote the Romans: As the morning star shines in the dawn, so shines Carmona in Andalucia.
Early breakfast and pick up at the hotel at 8:30 a.m. for the drive to Jerez de la Frontera, in the province of Cádiz.
Jerez is internationally renowned for its production of sherry and brandy and is synonymous with the Spanish horse.
The mornings main attraction this day will be the visit to the Real Escuela Andaluza del Arte Ecuestre, and to see an equestrian performance titled, «How the Andalusian Horses Dance».
Here you will have the privilege of seeing the magnificent Andalusian stallions at their best, at home in the breathtaking setting of their 18th Century palace and the riding hall. They will be performing piaffe, passage and the airs above the ground (courbette, capriole, etc) in a spectacle of light, music and colour.
(Vivi García trained at this school for four years and frequently performed in the show.)
You will also visit the Equestrian Art museum , where you can marvel at the history of the Spanish horse and high school dressage,from it´s origins to present times, all while enjoying the architecture of the stunning XIX century Place designed by French architect Charles Garnier.
Tapas Lunch in Jerez.
A guided visit to one of Jerez’s famous Sherry Bodegas.
Here you will learn about the history of one of the world’s most recognised wines, Sherry. Spain is also famous for its Brandy which takes its distinctive flavor from the sherry casks it is aged in. Spain produces over 80 million bottles of brandy a year, 95% of it in Jerez.
Your guided tour gives you a first hand look into the closely guarded secrets surrounding the creation of sherry. Discover the intricacies of the sherry making process and the origins. Explore the underground cellars, where hundreds of barrels of sherry are stored, and, of course, enjoy a wine tasting.
You will then return to your hotel to enjoy your evening at leisure.
You will mount up and set off across country for the ‘Roman Bridge’ ride.
Depending on the time of the year you could be riding through fields of sunflowers, wheat, cotton, oranges or peaches, and through ancient olive groves still carefully tended and nurtured. It is a countryside where there are very few fences.
Along the way you may come across the river, full and flowing in spring, cool and shallow in summer, a natural heaven for wildlife, with abundant vegetation all year round. Splashing through the shallows, where you may disturb terns and grebes, you’ll emerge at an old Roman Bridge and shady eucalyptus grove.
Today you will enjoy your second dressage lesson. You will be further developing your understanding of the principles of Classical Dressage and you will already feel an improvement in your position and balance.
Lunch at Epona.
After a freshen up back at your hotel you will then be taken for a visit into the heart of Seville.
You will start at the world famous Plaza de España, where you will have time to stroll its breathtaking beauty before embarking on a carriage ride through the park then into the historical centre of this incredible city.
Here you will have time to roam the ancient streets of El Bario de Santa Cruz, famous for it’s flowered balconies and narrow streets or climb the sloping ramps of the Giralda to see the incredible views across Seville. Seville cathedral is the largest Gothic cathedral in the world and also the burial place of Christopher Columbus.
Photo opportunities abound and you will never tire of the quaint cobbled streets that wind their way around the imposing palaces, cathedrals and monuments that combine to make Seville a ‘must see’ destination.
Will set off to explore yet more of the ancient farm trails that surround Epona. By now, you will have fallen in love with the Andalusian countryside, its rich diversity of crops, and the sweeping scenery that is free of fences, punctuated only by olive groves and orchards.
Today, you will enjoy two lessons, one of which will be on the lunge, to really help progress your riding. By now you will feel more confident in your riding ability and your skills and knowledge will be increasing.
You will start to really appreciate the feel and connection the wonderful Epona Spanish horses can give you and you will be riding some more complex shapes and movements.
Lunch at Epona.
This afternoon you will visit the local Olive Oil Farm to learn more about this amazing product. Spain produces about half of the world’s olive oil and its health benefits are well documented. Few know what goes into its production though, so you will find this visit fascinating.
You will set off across open country for our last trail ride of the week, through olive and orange groves, and past farmers working the land.
How strange, in a region where there are no bridle paths the horse can wander anywhere as long as you have respect for the crop. By now, you will realise that in Andalucia, everyone understands and loves the horse.
Today is your final riding lesson of the week. Depending on your ability, you will be working on some of the more advanced dressage movements and by now, you will have totally fallen in love with the Spanish horse. His kindness, honesty, desire to please and natural beauty will leave you in awe. It’s no wonder our guests can’t wait to return.
You will then enjoy a Cooking Lesson with our own chef, Rosario, where you will use typical ingredients and methods to produce your own traditional Andalusian lunch. This will, of course, be accompanied by a glass or more of local Spanish wine.
After a relaxing afternoon back in Carmona, get ready to revisit the historical heart of Seville.
Here you can visit the tack shop, it is then time for a classical Flamenco Show. The show features dancers of national and international fame, traditional singers and wonderful flamenco guitar.
Flamenco is a genuine Southern Spanish art. It exists in three forms: Cante, the song, Baile, the dance, and Guitarra, guitar playing.
Romani Gipsies are very often named as the fathers of Flamenco, and at least it can be taken for certain that they played an important part in its creation. But also the popular songs and dances of early Andalusia have influenced early Flamenco considerably.
After the show it is a short walk to the typical Spanish night market where you can choose your own meal, from a range of Spanish and International cuisine, accompanied, of course, by some superb Spanish wine.
After an early breakfast you will be taken to the breathtakingly beautiful city of Cordoba. This city is quite literally the birth place of the Spanish horse.
In 1570, King Philip II, who was a great lover of horses, set out on a scheme to create a pure bred Spanish horse. For this reason, he ordered the Royal Stables to be built on land belonging to the Castle of the Christian Monarchs. It is here, in this beautiful setting, that the first ever Pure Bred Spanish horse, the PRE, more commonly referred to as the Andalusian, was bred. You will tour the ancient royal stables, which are worth a visit in their own right, and then, depending on the season, you will be able to watch a training session, showcasing some of the decendants of the very first pure bred Spanish horses.
There will also be time to explore some more of this extraordinary city including the incredible La Mezquita, the world famous mosque.
Cordoba was founded by the Romans and it became a port city of great importance, used for shipping Spanish olive oil, wine and wheat back to Ancient Rome. The Romans built the mighty bridge crossing the river, now called «El Puente Romano», but Cordoba’s hour of greatest glory was when it became the capital of the Moorish kingdom of Al-Andalus, and this was when work began on the Great Mosque, or «Mezquita», which over the centuries, became one of the largest in all of Islam.
When the city was reconquered by the Christians in 1236, the new rulers of the city were so awed by its beauty that they left it standing, building their cathedral in the midst of its rows of arches and columns, and creating the extraordinary church-mosque we see today.
There are no shortage of places to enjoy a tapas lunch and Cordoba is full of boutique stores, from which to buy souvenirs, or you may prefer to wander the tiny alleyways and quaint courtyards, soaking up the atmosphere of this extraordinary city.
Finally, enjoy the last evening at your hotel or you may prefer to enjoy your final evening stroll through the streets of old Carmona whilst reminiscing about the wonders that make Andalusia what it is.
We offer complementary transport to Seville airport and train station. First trip at 8.00 am and the second will be at 11.00 am.
Have a safe onward journey and we look forward to welcoming you back!
* Please note, that we can offer tailor made programmes for groups of 5 to 12 riders and non riders. We can add more riding, offer a combination of lessons and trail rides or change some of the activities. We can also extend the programme adding one or 2 more days of activities.
Some other activities that can be arranged are:
The total price for this programme is € X,XXX.XX per person which includes accomodation in 4 star hotel, breakfasts and lunches , all riding , welcome dinner on first evening, transfers, amenities, tours and services as described in general information.
Airport and Train Station Transfers
Epona offers complimentary transfers to and from the Seville train station at pre-set times.
Arrivals on Sunday
Departures from the hotel on Sunday only
To train station or airport:
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.
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