A simple arch at the entrance of Morgado Lusitano, a horse stud farm near Lisbon, divides the ordinary from the extraordinary. Crossing the arch is entering a world where Lusitano horses are treated as if they were the offsprings of Pegasus. These beautiful animals exude joy as they trot with elegance and vigor in a field that overlooks the marshes of the Tagus river.
The estate attracts horseback riders from all over the world. They stay in traditional country houses, enjoy their meals in the manor house, and ride twice a day under the tutelage of a group of top instructors.
Just before lunch, we met several riders who were drinking an aperitif in the library. They were all fans of Lusitanos, the Portuguese horse breed known for its intelligence and docile temperament. And they were eager to talk about their experiences at Morgado: the beauty of the farm, the quality of the food and wine and, most of all, the amazing horses and superb instruction.
“Three days here feel like a long vacation,” said one of the guests smiling, “I forget everything except the desire to ride in harmony with my horse. I go back recharged and renewed.”
The 18th century estate is run by Alexandre d’Orey, the heir of an aristocratic family. He takes great pride in his ability to match each rider with the perfect horse. “What is your teaching method?” we asked. “We teach riders how to communicate with the horse using hand and leg gestures with sensitivity and skill. After they master the basics, we instill in our riders the confidence they need to be relaxed on top of the horse. Confidence is crucial because riding is like praying, you have to believe to make it work.”
Click here for the Morgado Lusitano website.