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First dressage lesson


View Intensive Dressage Week on bejjan's travel map.

It was no risk you would be cold or freeze in your room during the nights. The heaters in the rooms were generation enough heat. Otherwise it can be chilly in these paved and stucco clay houses in the warmer countries at this time of year.

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Early in the morning it was foggy outside the window and it looked raw cold outside. But despite that you could still hear the birds happily warbling in the trees.

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At 8 am, the dining room table was set with breakfast such as yoghurt, French toast, marmalade, cheese, ham, fruits, freshly made orange juice and coffee/tea. It was somewhat cold in the dining room in the morning and the sun had not yet made it through the fog.

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Outside the high windows were peacocks sitting on the railing of the balcony and cleaning their feathers in their beautiful feathering. Sometimes they would look in through the window glass hoping to get some piece of bread.

After breakfast we went out on the farm together to look at some of the surroundings and gathered at the arena at 9 am. The white-painted buildings with padded facade are common sightings in Portugal and gives a well-kept impression and the beautiful stucco details gives an extra touch. The farm has several stable buildings whereof one stable is now built together with the actual arena.

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On our way to the arena we were met by two dogs happily greeting us and tried to give us clear invites to play. The smaller dog, Pipoca (meaning popcorn in Portuguese), was so adorable! She really had those puppy eyes which she used and looked at you with… “Please play with me!” The bigger black and white dog, Mia, was a bit shyer but wanted to play gladly.

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First lesson began at 9 am. Since we were only three riders, we were all having private lessons, 1 hour each, both in the morning and in the afternoon led by our instructor Patrícia Palmeiro.

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A, M and I had had time to discuss a little more about the riding and decided that I was to ride as number three in the morning. But as it turned out I was riding first of all of us, since Patrícia had tacked my horse, Infante, first. So, you just had to re-think everything, suck it up and mount the horse and start riding… *no pressure*

Infante, a brown Lusitano stallion, was quite calm and, if you ask me, one of the easier horses to ride. But it felt great riding him on the first training, then I could focus on what Patrícia said and how she expressed the different riding phrases in English. When going on a dressage holiday like this you need to study English words and phrases (unless you already know) since the instructors rarely are or know Swedish.

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So, equipped with dressage saddle and bridled with Pelham bit, it was just to mount Infante and ride into the arena. It was a while since I had ridden with double reins, but I got it pretty fast. I got to borrow a stick in the beginning of the lesson because he felt slow. But it was enough that he knew I had a stick in my hand, he immediately got more energy and length in the steps. You learn rather soon that the style of riding practiced here in Portugal versus the English style of riding are different. One example is corner passing. In the English riding school, you should flex the horse’s neck and flex the horse with your inside leg and do a proper corner passing in the arena, while Patrícia here at Herdade Pero Viegas mean that you must let the horse pass the corner on its own and not push the horse out in the corner. The Portuguese style of riding also advocates shoulder in and shoulder out as well as leg-yielding in different paces to free but also control the shoulders. So, after an hour training with many shoulder in’s and leg-yielding’s and a lot of work with the outer rein and collected canter, my first lesson was done. It went surprisingly fast. But I had to work just as hard as Infante, or even more…

Lunch was served at 1 o’clock and was, just as dinner yesterday, well-cooked and very good. Both Nuno and Patrícia sat down at the table and had lunch with us. First served was a god soup, with succeeding meat together with rice, potato fries and vegetables. It was tender and great meat. For dessert was cake and fruit salad. After lunch we had an hour “siesta” before afternoon riding lessons started again. We, the guests, took the opportunity being in the sun on the balcony for a while, because now the morning fog had eased long ago and the sunshine warmed us up. Despite being November, the sun was strong, so I felt it was enough being in the shadow. The sunshine was reflected off the white-painted facade and it was enough being in the shadow on my part. It had to be around +20 °C, perhaps even more.

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Patrícia announced during lunch that I would ride first in the afternoon as well. So, when I arrived in the stable, a roan was tacked and waiting for me. It was Xileno (pronounced Chileno), a Lusitano stallion that she thought would fit me better.

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Xileno is on the cover of the riding holiday magazine "HorseXplore".

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He was considerably more sensitive than Infante and we found each other rather fast, Xileno and I. Xileno had, earlier in his life, been ridden on the hand “wrong”, so you really had to lower his neck and get him to work with his back. The hard part was that he had a very bumpy trot and was difficult to ride him in working trot. But somehow, I managed to get through the lesson with shoulder in, leg-yielding and flying changes. Also got to try his passage, but just as Xileno’s working trot, the passage was super hard – if not impossible – to sit down in. I stayed in the arena after my lesson to watch A and M when they rode their lessons. But later that afternoon/evening when the darkness had settled outside, it got really chilly in the arena. You really had to dress warm in order not to freeze to death.

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After a warm shower and some rest, it was time for dinner at 8 pm. A warm soup as starter and bacon and chicken with rice and potato fries as main course, with vegetables of course. The dessert was fruit salad and chocolate cake. Goody!
The evening was rounded up with playing some pool.

Posted by bejjan 16:00 Archived in Portugal Tagged horseback_riding

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