Posts by Charlotte Wittbom Classical Dressage

Charlotte Wittbom is a rider, trainer and teacher specialising in classical approaches to horsemanship. She travels internationally to deliver clinics, demonstrations and presentations and welcomes guests for riding holidays and training at Quinta do Brejo, Portugal – the former home and stables of Maestro Nuno Oliveira. Charlotte rode in the celebrated Apassionata equestrian gala show as part of Maestro Luis Valença’s presentation, on three European tours. Her early career included competitive eventing in her native Sweden; six months working as an assistant instructor under Julian Marczak at the renowned Suzanne’s Riding School in the UK and three years as a student of Maestro Luis Valença in Portugal. She has a particular interest in the development of pedagogical approaches to the development of horse and rider, and is currently studying for a B.Ed in Education, Umeå University. She holds a a teaching certificate from the Association of British Riding Schools (A.B.R.S) and a Diploma with distinction from the Centro Equestre de Lezeria Grande (C.E.L.G) in Portugal. At Quinta do Brejo, Charlotte schools her own Lusitano horses, welcomes guests for riding holidays and tuition, and carries out programmes of schooling with clients' horses. She works with a diverse range of riders from around the world, spanning all equestrian specialisms, with abilities from novice to advanced.

‘Poca favilla gran fiamma seconda’ (Dante)

Poca favilla gran fiamma seconda” – “A great flame follows a little spark”.  (Paradiso: Canto I; The Divine Comedy – Dante Alighieri)

Each day working with horses creates a small step forward. But these small steps create great strides over time. It’s often only when I look back over photographs of my journey with a horse that I can appreciate how far we have travelled.

This time I have had fun looking back on my work with Dante. In September last year, I wrote about his arrival at Quinta do Brejo. It will soon be a year since those words were written. Dante was then a spirited little horse with a funny short mane and a big personality.  He has matured into an elegant horse with deep intelligence behind his kind eyes. Here are some photos that will show you his progress. I hope you will enjoy them.

Dante with his breeder, September 2011 -

Dante, October 2011 -

Dante, November 2011 -

Dante, November 2011 -

Dante, August 2012 -

Dante August 2012 -

Dante, August 2012 -

Farewell to Marie and Vip

It’s the end of an era at Quinta do Brejo. We have said farewell to two of the most important members of our team – our working student from Canada, Marie-Philip and our beautiful 10 year old Lusitano, Vip.

Charlotte Wittbom riding Lusitano, 'Vip' at Quinta do Brejo -

After a year and half of schooling with us, Vip is now continuing his journey elsewhere. He is a great personal favourite of mine and I know was very popular with the guests who rode him. I’m very grateful to Vip for the great pleasure it has been to school and ride him; the joy he gave to so many; the almost holy riding experiences he gave to some.  I know he has a special place in many hearts and I’m sure will continue to touch people throughout his life. At Quinto do Brejo we took a journey together through piaffe, passage, pirouettes, spanish trot, flying changes and levade and I could feel that he enjoyed it as I did. It is with tears in my eyes and much love in my heart that I wish him bon voyage.

Marie came to us last December and revealed a true passion for horses and dedication to learning the classical methods of training and riding. Working with horses and living in a completely different environment with a new language, different horses and a whole range of cultural differences is not at all easy but she made a big impact and became a valued member of our team.  She has made great progress with her riding and her way with horses and I’m sure will enjoy a wonderful career back in her native Canada. I wish her every success for the future.

Marie-Philip Couillard at Quinta do Brejo -

Two become one… Cheque’s tale.

I’m sure many of you will remember Cheque. As a three year old he was the first horse to join me in my new adventure at Quinta do Brejo. Soon after he turned four a visitor from Sweden fell in love with him and decided to change her life by becoming a horse owner.  Her decision was (after spending many years away from riding) taken with the heart, but even then there was no denying that they suited each other very well. And after only a short time back in the saddle for the rider, and a short time under saddle for the horse – a lovely and fitting partnership started to develop.

Cheque, PSL Lusitano and Charlotte Wittbom, Summer 2012

Cheque, PSL Lusitano and Charlotte Wittbom, Summer 2012

Now another year of schooling and maturing has passed and it is getting close to the day when Cheque will make the trip to Sweden and his lovely new home. The year has prepared both horse and owner for what will soon take place – both mentally and practically. After some initial fears about the task she had let herself in for, Cheque’s new owner has taken an active part in her new horse’s development, visiting us at Quinto do Brejo regularly and making all the right preparations at home.

Cheque, PSL Lusitano and Charlotte Wittbom, Summer 2012

Cheque has been a joy to train. His confidence, balance, temperament and movement have combined to make a very capable young horse, whose potential his owner can soon continue to realise.  In the same way, Cheque’s owner has also developed her riding, her way with horses and her mindset as the trainer and guardian of a beautiful Lusitano.

The next few images show some glimpses of the journey Cheque and his owner have taken together, from their first meeting, through their training sessions together over the last year (including just last week). I hope you enjoy them….

Cheque, PSL Lusitano and her owner, Summer 2011

Cheque and his owner, Summer 2011

Cheque, PSL Lusitano and his owner, April 2012

Cheque and his owner, April 2012

Cheque, PSL Lusitano and his owner, Summer 2012

Cheque and his owner, Summer 2012

VIP Photoshoot

Some of you might remember the photoshoot that was taken a few months back at Quinta do Brejo with Vip. Well, the photos have now arrived with us and I thought I would share some outtakes with you.


Moon Fox Spanish Mustang with Charlotte Wittbom

Over the Moon

And so with heavy hearts we have waved goodbye to Moon Fox, the Spanish Mustang mare we have had the pleasure of training here at Quinto do Brejo for the past four months.

Moon came to us as a five year old at the beginning of her schooling and has now rejoined her owner to continue her development into the very fine horse I know she will become. It has been a wonderful experience to work with such a beautiful strong mare and to know her unique characteristics as well as those she shares with her Lusitano cousins.  Every horse I come to know brings new experiences and new learning.

Spanish Mustang Mare 'Moon Fox'

At five years old, Moon’s musculature was already beginning to be well developed, but having lacked the gymnastic work that would often take place from around the fourth birthday, her physique was quite tight and inflexible.  We started then with a lot of work in hand to supple and free her in walk. This helped to build the right foundations for the balance and strength necessary for ridden work.

Moon Fox Spanish Mustang with Charlotte Wittbom

On the other hand, being five years old, Moon had the mental maturity to progress quickly with the ridden work. You will see from the photographs that we found we were able to introduce the double bridle relatively soon in her training. For a young horse at Moon’s stage of development, this is more helpful in encouraging and supporting flexions of the neck and the suppling work from the ground, than as an aid to collection (as the horse matures, there will be more potential for collection in ridden work).

Moon Fox Spanish Mustang with Charlotte Wittbom

The early photographs also show that Moon’s physiology gave her a tendancy to fall on to her forehand. Therefore we incorporated lots of exercises – such as rein-back from the ground – to encourage her to carry her weight more evenly.

Moon Fox Spanish Mustang with Charlotte Wittbom

By the end of her period of schooling with us, Moon had progressed very well through the basic lateral work and is beginning to find self-carriage in the more difficult lateral exercises such as haunches-in and half-pass.  She is very attentive to the seat and can be ridden with a very light hand, which shows that she has both the physical and mental maturity to enjoy her work at a higher level of training.

Moon Fox Spanish Mustang with Charlotte Wittbom and owner, Julie Ann Rees

I’ve had a lovely time training Moon and I wish all the best for her and her owner. They have the makings of a great partnership and I’m sure will have a wonderful journey together.

Spanish Mustang mare, Moon Fox and owner, Julie Ann Rees with Charlotte Wittbom

Equador, PSL Lusitano -

Between the Poles via Equador

We have another new arrival at Quinta do Brejo: Equador.  He is a handsome 3 year old PSL Lusitano from the breeder, Quinta da Encosta. His movement is beautiful – we’re really looking forward to how he develops over the coming months.

We’re almost overflowing with riches now! Our stables at Quinta do Brejo are full with horses and there’s a wonderful vibrancy and productivity about the place. Very soon though we will bid a fond farewell to a few of our favourite horses as they reach the end of their training here and join their owners elsewhere. There’s always a bitter-sweet feeling when that day comes, but seeing how horses and their riders form a bond and go on to enjoy their life together makes up for any sadness we feel in saying goodbye.

Equador, PSL Lusitano -

I’ve also had a busy time in Sweden giving a number of clinics. One thing I love about teaching clinics is the variety of work I find myself involved in.  I never quite know who and what I’ll be asked to work with and I need to improvise and work flexibly to help with the many different riders, horses, problems and opportunities I see. In these photographs, you’ll see we’re using pole work as an aid to improving the horse’s balance and strength. In particular we were working on developing the passage over poles. I think it’s very important, as well as enjoyable, to add as much variety to your schooling and riding as possible. Both you and the horse will benefit in lots of ways from the new challenges, but it’s also stimulating and fun.

Pole work to improve balance and strength

Pole work to improve balance and strength

Pole work to improve balance and strength

Pole work to improve balance and strength