Ahhhh Riding Grand Prix in Portugal
I have thought quite a bit on how to start this blog post after such an incredible trip and personal dive into whole new realm of horsemanship and culture. The fact of the matter is, one can share their insight via words but to really grasp the depth of such an experience, one must experience it for themselves. I'll do my best though and we hope you enjoy the photos from this amazing experience as well!
My wife, Maredith, and I ventured to Lisbon, Portugal for a 10 day experience where we would have the opportunity to ride true Grand Prix schoolmasters under the instruction of world class professionals at Mestre Luis Valenca's school and facility, Valenca Classical Riding Academy. During our time there we each rode different horses that suited not only our strengths but also horses that would expose our weaknesses and provide us with the opportunity to improve upon them. All these horses were Luistano stallions. That is right, a farm full of stallions, and let me tell you; it was one of the most tranquil, peaceful equestrian facilities I've been blessed to spend time at.
Each day we had 2-3 lessons that last about an hour each. Each lesson was very focused, detail oriented and most definitely challenging. Over the course of our trip we worked on maneuvers such as shoulder-in, leg yield, travers, half pass, tempi changes, Spanish walk, piaffe, passage, extended trot, working equitation, canter pirouettes and more! At the forefront of all of this was our equitation. Why? Well my friend Patrick King said it very well during an evening chat, "Equitation isn't just about looking pretty or just another class at a horse show... True classical equitation is about how we enable or disable our horses through the alignment of our bodies."
To feel and experience these movements with such amazing quality and true self carriage was priceless. To be able to ride a horse that was a true schoolmaster and would honestly respond to you as a rider and let you know when you were right or wrong was priceless.