November news from Quinta do Brejo

So now the annual phenomenon that is the Golegã horse fair is over and it is with a satisfied tiredness that we now look forward to beginning the preparations for Christmas. Here’s what has been happening with us over the past few weeks…

Charlotte Wittbom at Quinta do Brejo, by Emma Noren

AT GOLEGÃ

The week of the Golegã fair was a busy time for all of us here at Quinta do Brejo – Don Tomas and Donna Antonia Alercão and myself.  We had very dramatic weather including heavy rain, thunder and lightning and of course some sun in between. But thankfully we were lucky  to experience the horse fair under calm skies.

It’s almost impossible to describe the atmosphere of Golegã  – the confusion of horses and riders criss-crossing with pedestrians; tourists and locals pouring through streets and out of restaurants and bars; the smells of nuts roasting and regional delicacies being cooked from street stalls. All life is there, from smartly turned out dressage riders performing their perfect flying changes, to the comical sight of Shetland ponies pulling small wagons filled with big burly men. We took a lovely group of guests to visit the fair, all of whom had also decided to stay for some riding lessons with us. It’s a wonderful way to get a taste of everything the Lusitano horse and Portuguese horse culture has to offer.

CLINICS IN SWEDEN…

I was also recently teaching a series of clinics in my native Sweden, where I was really pleased to see my students making some great steps forward.  Of course progress always develops most strongly from the foundation that understanding and a thoughtful approach brings. To want to gain this understanding requires a certain patience and calmness from the rider. And as a teacher it is always very encouraging and empowering to see students who really want to learn with an open and inquisitive mind.  So it was with real pleasure that we started to work with flying changes, half-steps, piaffe and passage. I am really looking forward to seeing them all again in the new year.

IN THE MEDIA…Charlotte Wittbom in Hästfocus Magazine

This month I am featured in the Swedish magazine Hästfocus, which gives some training advice.

You can click here to take a look at the article via the publisher’s website.

GIFT VOUCHERS…

We now have gift vouchers available to buy at any value you wish (minimum €10), which can be exchanged for clinics near you, or for riding holidays here at Quinta do Brejo.  We will happily provide a simple voucher, or please do contact us to discuss a suggested package for a clinic, riding lesson, 3 day or 7 day programme to give as a gift.  Contact us at info@charlottewittbom.com to discuss your requirements or ask any questions.

Charlotte Wittbom Gift Voucher

With very best wishes, Charlotte.

*Photo of Charlotte above by Emma Noren.

A busy start to the month – in Portugal and the ABRS Conference, England

What a full and interesting beginning to the month it has been. On Monday I had the honour to deliver a presentation to the Association of British Riding Schools (ABRS) annual conference in Oxford, UK.  I want to thank ABRS for their invitation and the delegates for their warm welcome. It was also interesting to have an insight into how it is to run a riding school in the UK and to listen to the other speakers. I like to take every opportunity to learn from other riders and from other horse cultures. It was a very giving day.

Riding lesson at Quinta do Brejo.

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Some thoughts for the day: On Training

Here is a small video clip of Vip, showing his recent progress. He is a horse that really wants to please – sometimes even too much! He’s starting, though, to become more confident and relaxed in his work, which has meant we’ve been able to attempt some of the higher collected movements, such as flying changes. Each time we train, we work on small progressions – satisfaction comes from a simple improvement done well.

 

Quite often while teaching clinics or lessons, I’m struck by the way that we can all too easily focus on small detailed things rather than the bigger picture of what we’re trying to achieve with our horses and ourselves. I think it’s very important to have a holistic sense of the training of horse and rider – what we want to achieve and how we’ll try to get there. Every exercise we do in training is then a preparation for the next, progressing steadily toward the objective of a supple, light horse that enjoys work and moves in self-carriage and balance without getting injuries or other problems.

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Lusitano Horse Feira in Golegã: 4th-13th November 2011

Times flies and before long the first cool breeze of autumn will freshen the last hazy days of summer. This is an exciting time here at Quinta do Brejo, because we know the annual Lusitano Horse Feira in Golegã will soon be upon us!

Golegã is an experience like no other. All of the breeders bring their best horses and compete for the attention of the public with colourful displays and performances. The air is filled with music and the bustle of so many people and horses, together with the atmospheric smells of regional delicacies cooking and the smoked castanje nuts you can snack on as you explore. The festivities carry on late into the night, beyond the arenas and into the bars and restaurants, where at this time it’s commonplace that guests might have four legs as well as two!

Please take a look at the programme here http://www.horsefairlusitano.org.

Why not combine the horse fair with riding lessons at Quinta do Brejo? You would be most welcome to stay with us and we’ll happily arrange your journey to and from Golegã. We’re at your service and hope to welcome you soon.

Castor in training

This is Castor, a young stallion. A client brought him to me for training in April this year and – although he is still young and inexperienced – has shown very good qualities. While making this video, a mare and foal were free in the adjacent field, but Castor has a good mind and enjoys his work – he stayed focussed and calm. I have been very pleased with his progress.

 

Full activity at Quinta do Brejo

This weekend has been busy with the Lusitano festival in Lisbon; classical riding lessons for old friends and new, and the arrival of a very promising three year old Lusitano, who we will school here at  Quinta do Brejo. It is wonderful to see Mestre Oliveira’s old stables full and bustling with a lovely variety of equine characters of differing ages and training levels. And now each day brings new adventures, experiences, challenges and rewards.

Below, you will see photos of some special students who experienced various dressage movements for the first time.

Unfortunately, our planned Homage to Nuno Oliveira had to be postponed for reasons beyond our control, but I will keep you posted about a new date.  We hope to welcome you here soon!

9th July 2011: A Celebration of Nuno Oliveira

On the 9th of July we will pay homage to Nuno Oliveira with a special event at his former home and stables, Quinta do Brejo. You are cordially invited to join us for dinner and an evening of entertainment, including live opera and circus performances, as well as a special ridden demonstration from the latest generation of the Oliveira family.

Explore the grounds and riding facilities, discover historical artefacts left by the Maestro and share memories with those who knew and worked with him. This event is open to all. RSVP.

For those wishing to also visit the Lusitano Horse Show 2011 (7th-10th July) in Lisbon, we welcome you to stay with us in our comfortable accommodation, perhaps taking the chance to enjoy lessons on our own Lusitano stallions with Charlotte Wittbom. Please contact us to discuss your requirements or to make a booking.