horse riding portugal

For many years, Portugal has provided a source of inspiration for thinking riders. Portugal is a country with strong and established equestrian traditions; indeed, it is difficult to even discuss classical dressage without mentioning the late Portuguese master, Nuno Oliveria.

Riding holidays in Portugal can open the door to the Portuguese School of Equestrian Art and allow riders to experience classical dressage on a Lusitano schoolmaster, whatever your experience of dressage to date, alongside offering high-quality training opportunities.

Should you want something more carefree, Portugal is also the setting for stunning trail rides through beautiful, picturesque villages and countryside as well as exhilarating fast-paced beach rides.

It should be recognised that Portuguese equitation has always been closely linked with that of the French School of Versailles. It was the 18th C Grand Master, Sieur Francois de La Gueriniere who influenced the work of the Spanish Riding School of Vienna. Later, those same principles were adopted by all the great cavalry schools of Europe and were replicated in the FEI Dressage Rules.

The native of Portugal the beautiful baroque Lusitano Horse is said to be the world’s best-kept secret in the horse breeds division. They are powerful and graceful and are renowned for their noble character and willingness to please. They are also enthusiastic and kind and work well with any level of rider or trainer. Plus, they possess a higher-than-average intelligence, that’s why they are considered a symbol of status for their owners.

Equestrian Holidays in Algarve at Centre Equestre Lusitanus

The Algarve is the southernmost province of Portugal, famous for its breath-taking Mediterranean coastline, hot summers and mild, short winters, its friendly, laid back people, top golf courses, delicious traditional cuisine and stunning scenery.

We have discovered in the heart of this exotic area there is an equestrian escape where you can enjoy beautiful, well trained Lusitano horses and have a great riding experience.

The riding establishment called Centro Equestre Lusitanus is owned by the charming couple, João Pedro and Iris Miranda. Both João Pedro and Iris are qualified riding instructors in the Portuguese Equestrian Federation, national dressage judges, competition riders as well as directors and riders of their superb classical shows. All the horses at Centro Equestre Lusitanus compete in dressage, many at a high level.

The equestrian holiday offered at Centre Equestre Lusitanus place the needs and wishes of the clients at the front. For both João Pedro and Iris it is all about flexibility, so their holiday riding programs are all carefully tailored, each riding package is designed based on the wishes of client. During your stay you can have;

  • Classical dressage lessons
  • Long reins work in hand lessons
  • Specifically dedicated dressage lessons with corrective exercises
  • Competition tips and exercises

There is also the possibility to hack out in the beautiful surroundings and even beach rides when the season allows it. All of this can also be combined in whatever way you may wish for. Riders at all levels are welcome.

Centro Equestre Lusitanus is situated at Quinta das Cinco Ferraduras, in Loulé in the centre of what is often referred to as Algarve’s Golden Triangle.


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Pinetrees Riding Centre

Anyone wishing to have a horse riding holiday in the Algarve can visit the Pinetrees Riding Centre.

Ideally situated in the Golden Triangle, between Vale do Lobo, Quinta do Lago and Almancil, and only 20 minutes drive from Faro airport.  It offers all that is needed for local residents or as a horse riding holiday, whether staying en famille at Pinetrees or in one of the many quality hotels, Villa Cascata or apartments in the local area.

Pinetrees Riding Centre provides expert classical tuition for riders from 4 years old to 70, and all abilities, from riding lessons for novices on quiet horses and ponies to the more advanced rider training on beautiful well schooled Lusitanos.


horse riding holiday in portugal

Riding clothes are supplied so you will ride safely, be more comfortable and certainly look the part!

The Centre offers riding out in the pinewoods, beside the salt flats and the beach area in the Ria Formosa Nature Reserve or through the orange groves of the Ludo Valley, perhaps stopping for a picnic en-route. The riding is an ideal experience on holiday for those without much practice.

For children, there are five lovely ponies for pony rides and nature walks through the pinewoods adjacent to the center or the chance to spend the day and make friends with other children at Pony Club, giving parents the chance to relax and do their own thing for a few hours.

The center is an English run riding school with a friendly, professional international team able to speak half a dozen European languages. So whether you want to develop your riding skills, improve your stable management or just ride out through the countryside, the team at Pinetrees will take care of you.


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Albufeira Riding Centre

The Albufeira Riding Centre is an equestrian center offering beautiful treks through the local countryside on their well-mannered horses. Lessons and Pony Club activities also offered throughout the year.

Beginners and experienced riders are welcome.


Portuguese School of Equestrian Art

For those interested in the 'the art of classical riding'  you must visit The Escola Portuguesa de Arte Equestre (Portuguese School of Equestrian Art) is a Portuguese institution dedicated to the preservation of the equestrian arts, in the Portuguese tradition. It is one of the "Big Four", the most prestigious classical riding academies in the world.

The Academy
The academy and training grounds of the Portuguese School are based at Queluz National Palace, in Sintra, on the Portuguese Riviera, outside of Lisbon. The school also maintains the Picadeiro Henrique Calado riding hall in Belém, Lisbon, originally built in 1833 for Queen Maria II of Portugal's Lancers Regiment.

The academy consists of 17 riders, called cavaleiros ("horsemen" or "knights"). The Director of the Portuguese School is Lt. Col. Paulo Candoso. The school's Mestre Picador Chefe (Chief Master Rider) is currently João Pedro Rodrigues.

horse riding in portugal

The Portuguese School of Equestrian Art exclusively uses Lusitano horses bred from the Alter Real State Stud, established in 1748 by King João V of Portugal to provide horses for use by the Portuguese Royal Family and by the Royal Equestrian Academy. Lusitanos were used by the royal family for performing classical dressage and competing in the Jogos da Corte, the Royal Court Games.

Equestrian Shows
The Portuguese School of Equestrian Art (EPAE) stages regular performances at the Henrique Calado Riding Hall (located on Calçada da Ajuda, in Belém), where training sessions are also open to the general public.

Daily training sessions
Morning sessions are open to the public and showcase the daily work done by the riders at the EPAE to train and prepare horses of different ages for the School’s performances. In these training sessions, the riders wear normal working clothes. These sessions are open to individuals and groups of visitors, including school parties.

Weekly presentations
Ballet-style performances set to music and featuring presentations of classical dressage exercises and choreographies by EPAE riders and horses. The riders wear gala costume and use traditional Portuguese saddles and harnesses. Each presentation lasts approximately 45 minutes.

Gala performances
These performances last around 90 minutes and include such feats as the “airs above the ground”, equestrian exercises characteristic of the Baroque period, along with Court Games, the tournaments held between the 16th and 19th centuries to commemorate festive occasions. The performances are accompanied by lighting and sound effects that serve to enrich the choreography and the ambience.


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Golegã Portugal’s capital of the horse

The historic and annual Feira de Golega is another attraction for those who want to savour the colour, tradition and magic of Portugal's equestrian past and present. If you love Lusitanos, traditions and a true cultural experience, then the Golegã National Horse Fair is ‘must see’ for you.

Held in a charming historic town called Golegã, often known as Portugal’s Capital of the Horse, this spectacular annual horse festival is quite literally an unforgettable event.

horse riding holiday portugal

Golegã is comfortably situated between the rivers Tagus and Almonda in Portugal’s Ribatejo Province. It is also the home to many of the oldest and most prestigious breeders of Lusitanos.

The Fair is held at the beginning of November over a 10-day period. The dates must include the most important day, 11th November, which is the Dia de São Martinho (the Feast of Saint Martin). On this day the people eat roasted chestnuts and drink new wine for Magusto – Magusto is the celebration of tasting the news wines or Agua Pe and roasting chestnuts.