Nuno Oliveira at Quinta do Brejo

We hope you are enjoying a peaceful weekend wherever you are. After many days of beautiful warm weather, there has been some rain here at Quinta do Brejo which has released an uplifting perfume of wild herbs and pine resin from the woodland surrounding the farm. To me, one of the most rewarding things about working with horses is that I am always close to nature – the cycles of day and night; the seasons and the elements. Of course our horses sense and respond to these changes just as we do, and these moments of mutual empathy and connection are surely the drug that every rider craves.

I came across this edited extract from a French documentary about Maestro Nuno Oliveira, in which he can be seen schooling here at Quinta do Brejo – the home and stables he built up and which we are now fortunate to inherit.  Those of you who have stayed with us will see how little has changed since his time here.  I hope you enjoy watching the master at work.

Information about the original film “Nuno Oliveira, l’écuyer du XXe siècle et 20 ans après” by Laurent Desprez can be found by clicking here (includes some more wonderful footage of Quinta do Brejo).

Cheque’s Progress

This is Cheque, who you might remember from a previous post. He is a 4 year old Lusitano stallion – the first horse I brought with me to Quinta do Brejo. Now he’s been in training for almost a year.

Cheque is going to stay with me for a few more months of schooling before he moves to his new home in Sweden and I’m very pleased I’ll get the chance to see him develop – he’s a lovely horse to work with.  At this point in his training we’re still working on the basics, but now I’m also adding some lateral steps and a few transitions from walk to his programme.

This video shows our first attempt at a counter canter in our small arena. The counter canter is a good exercise to help a horse develop his balance, but Cheque is a little young to do very much of this exercise, so we take it gently and only every now and again. His canter in general is now becoming more balanced, even though he sometimes drops a little onto his forehand. He can do this in trot too, but he is a big young horse with a lot to carry and is still growing. With time, and as his musculature develops, his balance will improve.  It’s important not to rush a young horse into advanced work before they are ready. And adding lots of variety in the work we do ensures we don’t ask too much of them too soon.

I also do a lot of work from the ground with Cheque, which helps with his suppleness.  Cavalettis and easier jumps help with his athletic development, but they also add variety and stimulation in his work – it’s good that he has fun too!

I try always to read the signals the horse is giving me so that I only ask for what he can give me.  A young horse goes through different stages of growth and development – their physicality, mental maturity and even their changing teeth will all impact on the way that they respond to the work we’re asking of them.  So if it sometimes feels that the horse is a bit unbalanced again or not always developing forward, I don’t worry. I try to think of our development together (and the relationship he’ll form with his new owner) as a long journey, not a sprint – given time and patient work, the pieces will fall into place.