HORSE HEAVEN !
Horse & Rider Magazine
The following feature appeared in the December 2003 issue of Horse & Rider Magazine, a leading UK equestrian magazine, and is a report by Wendy Trafford, in her own words, of her holiday experience here with us in May 2003.
A beautiful country with gorgeous horses, Andalucia offered Wendy Trafford the riding holiday experience of a lifetime.
Do you know where Paradise is? Well, in my case, I won a holiday there – and my journey started with an Easyjet flight to Malaga in southern Spain. Two very excited people boarded a flight from Gatwick and were greeted at Malaga by a smiling Miranda from the ranch, our home for a week. (My husband Peter is a non-rider, but he benefited from the prize by toasting under the Spanish sun.)
After a warm welcome by Giles, Miranda´s husband, a delicious supper and a wonderful night´s sleep in a cool, spacious apartment, the horses beckoned…
Making a splash
And they were wonderful – fit, keen Andalucians, perfect for long rides. We rode through rivers – wading at first as Lilly, the tail-less rescued Spanish Labrador, bounded over water weeds – until the horses were splashing up to their chests through rivers with grandiose names such as Rio Seco and Rio Grande.
The treks took us through pine forests, open fields of cereal crops, orange and lemon groves, cork trees and eucalyptus-lined river banks. Fields of beet – wild, huge and bamboo-like were cut like grass.
Lunch was planned at just the right time and at just the right place. The food was chunky and healthy, with beer and wine to wash it down.
The final descent back to the ranch was slow and gentle towards home. The horses were hosed, and they just loved the water cascading over their hot bodies. This was also a good opportunity to spot injuries, ticks or any sort of problems. Seeing the hosed, beautifully groomed horses roll made you realise just why you love them. A swim, shower, generous wine and delicious supper, then sleep of the contented, made this prize-winner start saving to return to Coin very soon – yes, we´ve booked for next May!
Art of training
An evening outing to Pepe Senior and Pepe junior´s Andalucian Horse Training Ranch was an inspiration. The horses are superb and the riders a close second. With an hour of equestrian dressage, Spanish style, they made the classical airs look effortless. On closer inspection, the horses´ concentration and foamy sweat revealed the true extent of the effort involved.
On Thursday evening, Miranda and I saw the Cartujano show in Malaga. Billed as ‘del Arte Ecuestre’, the little family show put the classical airs and airs above the ground to music – a wonderful experience to see these beautiful horses perform so well.
On Friday evening, Giles, Miranda, Peter and I had a lovely, though sad, meal at an Andalucian restaurant. Sad for me, because a whole year away from this little corner of Paradise seems too long a time.
The ranch has at least a dozen fit, forward-going and beautiful horses. There´s a stallion in training that cries out to be painted, photographed or sung about and youngsters, too – long-limbed and generous in spirit.
The ranch is set in a river valley that is an oasis of peace and quiet below a lively Spanish town, Coín – typical southern Spanish commercial centre, unspoilt by outsiders. The company at the Rancho is excellent – Miranda and Giles are kind and generous hosts – the pool in May is warm and the food absolutely delicious.
To get to the ranch, a 4x4 descends a steep goat path to reach its imposing gates. To exit, by horse, is seriously uphill, until panoramic views take your breath away with their beauty.
The four and five hour treks on keen horses in excellent tack take you to remote regions of outstanding natural beauty – not least the Andalucian hills, where in spring the area is alive with dozens of delicately coloured wild flowers.
All the world´s strength condensed
All the world´s wisdom betrayed by
Ignore, if you dare, this powerful
Turn, if you can, as he sashays by.
Him, and the man, sublime
Moving as one, seamless and
Piaffe and passage, a dance for
(by Wendy Trafford)