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Quinta do Archino – jeep safari


View Dressage on Lusitano Stallions on bejjan's travel map.

I slept a little better this night. After yesterdays two tough dressage lessons I started to feel my abs and that I had worked with my seat, which by the way was the goal for this trip :) Breakfast was served at 8 pm.

The riding lessons started at 9 pm and my friend and I rode first. We rode outside in the paddock and even though the sun was high up it was chilly and a sweater was needed. Once again I rode Ramalhete and even though my abs was hurting I improved today as well. I improvised according to Francisco’s instructions and practiced a lot of half-passes, leg-yielding, shoulders-in and diagonal work on straight and flexed tracks. The schools were mixed with collected gaits, piaffe and passages. We got a lot of credits from Francisco both during and after the lesson. Together with Ramalhete I felt I had improved already in this short matter of time here at Quinta do Archino.

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When the last two riders were riding Francisco didn’t want anyone else to watch them. So my friend and I decided to walk to the pasture where Francisco had the Lusitano mares for breeding. One of the mares was highly pregnant and was expected foaling any day now. Francisco wanted us to check if the mare had foaled, so we went a little excited inside the pasture to look. But the she grazed calmly with the other mares. Later we went back to the manor and chilled by the pool.

Lunch was served at 1.30 pm and Francisco joined us at the table today. Vegetables and chicken for me (who doesn’t like fish) and tuna fish salad for the others. After dinner we had coffee out in the yard at the terrace by the pool. Francisco joined us and entertained us with many of his stories and talked the best of the master Nuno Oliveira known as the master of classic dressage. Francisco had been riding for the master Nuno Oliveira for three years, only a few years before he passed away. Francisco had since then adopted the classic dressage and opened up a dressage school at his manor Quinta do Archino and as he told us: “I don’t do it for the riders. I do it to save the horses.” A very thoughtful saying.

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The afternoon lessons started at 4.30 pm and my friend and I rode first outside in the paddock. Francisco was a little more passive with instructions and critiques and after a while Valentina (groomer) came with a horse for Francisco. He mounted the horse and started to ride himself. I got a little insulted when he just ignored us! Were we that boring? Or were we that great that we could ride on our own? I had actually paid him for giving me critique and help and the way he did it… if he only had told us before?! But it was kind of nice to ride around all alone. I actually managed to collect Ramalhete for passage and even piaffe on my own. So I felt my confidence grew :)

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One of the other riders had paid for another arrangement of riding where dressage lessons were included in the mornings and out trailing in the afternoons. She was riding with Valentina today, but since Valentina didn’t know the surroundings Francisco took the jeep to show her the way. The rest of us rode on the jeep platform. We drove by the mares, followed a road along a forest of eucalyptus trees and finally got to an abandoned but beautiful manor surrounded by old cork oaks and leafy forests. We tiptoed to a nearby lake in hope of seeing the birds nesting there. We saw ducks and storks and a few fishes swimming just underneath the water surface. We jumped up on the jeep again passed the abandoned manor and drove uphill a sandy road. You could tell it had rained a lot during the spring since the road was lined with deep furrows where the rainwater had ran and partially destroyed the road, so lucky us we had the jeep. But as Francisco passed a fallen tree the jeep got too close to a furrow and the jeep got stuck. One wheel wasn’t touching the ground at all and Francisco quickly realized he had to get back to the manor and get the tractor and pull the jeep up out of the furrow. Francisco mounted Valentina’s horse and rode back. The rest of us were standing next to the jeep until Francisco and Fernando (the groomer) came back and pulled up the jeep. Fernando then drove us back to the manor on the jeep. We were all a little dazed after the adventure and did feel sorry for Francisco since he apparently didn’t do this jeep safari with the guests too often.

Dinner was at 8.30 pm. First we got soup, then some kind of gratin dish and a super-duper delicious chocolate mousse for dessert. After the dinner two of the riders went out on their own frog safari. We had all heard the frogs croak during the evenings and nights so now they wanted to see them. It was dark when they left and they had a hard time seeing any. But they had seen fireflies at least.

Posted by bejjan 16:00 Archived in Portugal Tagged horseback_riding

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