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This is a six-night riding holiday designed for those who share Epona's passion for horses and want to spend a week focusing on training and improving communication with your horse in a relaxed and safe atmosphere. This program consists of eight dressage lessons and two lunge lessons across the week. The opportunity to improve your riding skills and knowledge, while riding superbly-trained Spanish horses, offers a unique holiday experience.
Your accommodation is in a four-star hotel, complete with a swimming pool, nestled in the nearby medieval town of Carmona, one of the famous white villages of Andalucia.
Epona's excellent bespoke training facilities include irrigated indoor and outdoor schools and exercise track, which help lessons be dust free and more enjoyable, especially through the heat of a Seville summer. The indoor arena is 20 meters by 60 meters and boasts a top-level competition standard sand and fiber surface to further enhance the quality of your riding experience.
The stabled horses are housed in a purpose-built American barn, with generously sized stables, complemented by a wash down and farrier areas, tie-up stalls, tack, and feed rooms, etc. The barn is surrounded by paddocks accommodating the trail ride and retired horses as well as stallion turnout pens and staff accommodation. Everything is to hand which helps to create a professional and yet very positive environment for both the horses and staff.
Guests enjoy a welcoming and spacious guest lounge and dining area. The adjoining terraces are centrally located, meaning it is possible to watch lessons in both the indoor and outdoor arenas, whilst sitting on the terrace, if you so wish. There are guest lockers and shower rooms which are especially welcome during the warmer months. There is also an outdoor unheated swimming pool and patio area, where you are welcome to spend time relaxing between lessons if you wish.
As the famous saying goes "Mi casa es su casa" ("My home is your home"), and that is how Epona hope you will view Hacienda Blanca Paloma during your stay with them.
The accommodation for all the Epona programs, and full buffet breakfast, will be included at the Alcazar de la Reina, a beautiful four-star Superior category hotel in the heart of the historic and monumental center of the old part of the city of Carmona, just a few minutes' drive away from the Hacienda.
The hotel is full of history, charm, and elegance while at the same time comfortable and modern, and is located at only 20 minutes' distance from Seville International Airport, with breathtaking views over the fertile valley, the Vega de Carmona, all the way to the great river, Guadalquivir, 30 kilometers distant, and the Sierra Morena mountain range behind.
The name of the hotel comes from the Moorish term "Alcazar", meaning a fortified palace, and the Spanish, "Reina", or queen, therefore, it is the queen’s palace. The building was originally erected by the Moors in the 13th century as a fortress adjunct to the Puerta de Cordoba, in an era when the town was one of the most important caliphates of Andalucia.
After the Moors were pushed back to their last strongholds in Granada and Málaga, in Medieval times, the Christian Kings of Castille also favored Carmona to fix their royal residence in the region. Specifically, King Alfonso XI showed a fondness for the town, and while the royal residence in Andalusia was the Royal Alcazar in Sevilla, he housed his favorite concubine, Leonor de Guzman, in the comfortable and impregnable Alcazar de la Puerta de Cordoba.
When he died of the Black Plague in Gibraltar, his only legitimate child, Pedro I inherited the throne, but due to the constant disputes for the crown that he had to suffer from his nine illegitimate half-brothers, he maintained Leonor prisoner in the palace until her death. He also favored Carmona and built the Alcazar del Rey Don Pedro (now the Parador) as his royal residence.
However, as legend has it, during the 15th century, another King of Castile, Juan II, embarking on another war with the Sultans of Malaga and Granada, sought the safest town in the province to house his beloved queen and his heir and keep them nearby. He chose Carmona as the most impregnable town and the Alcazar de la Puerta de Cordoba as the safest and most comfortable residence for his family. From that time on, it became known as the Alcazar de la Reina.
The palace, totally restored in the 1990s in the original Mudejar style, and refurbished in 2018, boasts spacious and elegant lounge areas and patios, an outdoor solarium with a salt-water swimming pool, and a total of four different options for wining and dining: The Tabanco Restaurant, the Terrace Bar, the Tabanco Tapas Bar, and the official Guinness Irish Pub.
The rooms are ample, airy, comfortable, and very tastefully furnished and feature:
It is possible to upgrade the room status to a superior or deluxe double room, junior suite, or suite. Please contact Epona for details if this is of interest to you. Please note that a credit card number will be requested by the hotel at check-in, to cover additional expenses.
Epona is sure that guests will feel at home in the comfortable and elegant, relaxed atmosphere of this warm and welcoming hotel, with its friendly and multi-lingual staff, who are available at all times, ready to make your stay within these ancient walls, a truly unforgettable experience.
Combine this with cultural excursions to the heart of Seville to view a typical flamenco show and the world-famous horse show in Jerez entitled "How the Andalusian Horses Dance", all whilst staying in one of the most beautiful medieval towns in the world, it now gives you a riding holiday opportunity of a lifetime.
This program is designed for those who prefer to concentrate on improving their dressage riding skills. Epona’s highly trained and sensitive Spanish horses and extremely experienced instructors are world-renowned. As a result, this program attracts riders from every walk of life and from a vast range of countries.
This program is also very popular with many repeat guests, as it is tailored to suit your needs regardless of whether you are a competition rider, a trainer yourself, a pleasure rider, or a first-time rider. During your stay, you can relax in stunningly beautiful surroundings away from the stress of modern-day lifestyles, while devoting your time to improving your horse riding skills so that your confidence, ability, and enjoyment will increase greatly over the week.
Typically, the intensive training program riders are adults, with no upper age restriction, who are keen to learn more about Classical Dressage. Horses will be matched to your current riding ability, so whether a lifetime rider or a first-time rider and regardless of where you currently are with your riding, you will feel your skills and ability develop throughout the week.
The establishment is world-renowned for its depth and quality of classically trained, yet kind and generous, Andalusian horses. At Epona, they enjoy the luxury of having both horses and instructors, who between them, are capable of training guests of all levels, from advanced dressage riders to beginners.
As a result, you will enjoy dressage and lunge lessons, that are both progressive and safe, in purpose-built training facilities, alongside like-minded people, from around the world. The Epona instructors are qualified by the British Horse Society, the Association of British Riding Schools, and the Spanish Equestrian Federation, which means that they are trained to always have the horse and rider’s safety at heart. Viviana Garcia, owner and chief instructor, is also a graduate of the Royal Andalusian School of Equestrian Art.
Over the years, the knowledge gathered (having trained in Dressage under many masters of various nationalities) has allowed them to form their own training and teaching techniques, which keep the pupils’ learning and enjoyment as the main priority, as well as safety and the horse’s wellbeing. Their aim is to pass on this knowledge, keeping in mind the principles and objectives of Classical Dressage, regardless of whether you're a first-time rider or a lifetime rider.
Guests arrive in the afternoon and settle into their hotel, a former palace, once the residence of a medieval queen, which is nestled in the heart of the breathtakingly beautiful medieval town of Carmona. Epona offers a complimentary transfer from the Santa Justa train station at 4:30 p.m. and can arrange airport pickups at any time with their local taxi service.
In the evening, you will be joined at the hotel by one of Epona hosts for a welcome dinner where you will meet the rest of the week’s riding members. After some friendly introductions and conversation, you are free to spend the rest of the evening at your leisure and to relax before the beginning of what they hope will be an unforgettable week. Welcome to Epona!
After breakfast at the hotel and a quick transfer to Epona, you will have a short guided tour and a chat with instructors. Your first lesson will be an assessment for your instructor, who will note your good points and the areas which need to be worked upon. It is also the first chance for you to get used to your horse and the more sensitive style of riding required for the Andalusian and Iberian horses.
After a well-earned break, get ready for your first lunging sessions. Once the morning lessons are over, relax with a book on the terrace or in the comfortable guest lounge. You are also more than welcome to stay and sit by the arenas and watch the daily training of horses or make use of the private pool (between the months of April to November). Meet the rest of the group for lunch in the beautiful dining room and enjoy your first experience of typical Andalusian home cooking and sample the excellent local house wine.
Your second dressage lesson will be in the afternoon. The lessons are designed to improve your school work, position, and dressage skills, and they will also teach you how to communicate better with your horse. Group sizes are usually of two or three riders at a similar level, and never larger than four.
Early breakfast and pick up at the hotel at 8:30 a.m. for the drive to Jerez de la Frontera, in the province of Cádiz. Jerez is internationally renowned for its production of sherry and brandy. However, the main attraction of this day will be the visit to the Real Escuela Andaluza del Arte Ecuestre, and to see an equestrian performance titled "How the Andalusian Horses Dance".
Here, you will have the privilege of seeing the magnificent Andalusian stallions at their best, at home in the breathtaking setting of their 18th Century palace and the riding hall. They will be performing piaffe, passage, and the airs above the ground (courbette, capriole, etc.) in a spectacle of light, music, and color. Vivi Garcia, trained at this school for four years and frequently performed in the show.
Please note: the additional cost for the entrance ticket to the "How the Andalusian Horses Dance" performance is 29 EUR. Return for a late lunch at Epona.
As the week progresses so will your dressage, hopefully performing more advanced movements. After the lesson, stay and continue observing the daily training of the geldings, mares, and stallions, from young and green to very advanced. Epona also trains the schoolmasters regularly to keep them sensitive and in good shape so that guests can enjoy and get the most out of their lessons with them. Have lunch at Epona.
In the morning, enjoy your last dressage lesson. By this time, you might be performing some of the more advanced movements (this will depend on the rider’s ability). Last lunch at Epona. An Epona diploma is presented to all participants this day.
After a relaxing afternoon back in Carmona, get ready to visit the historical heart of Seville. Here, you can visit the tack shop, always a highlight, and after a quick walk around. It is then time for a classical Flamenco show. The show features dancers of national and international fame, traditional singers, and wonderful flamenco guitar.
This Flamenco show is optional and has an additional cost of 35 EUR. Alternatively, you can stroll the streets around the largest Gothic cathedral in the world and the palaces and mansions that are a part of this world-famous city. The photo opportunities are endless and you will be spoiled for choice.
There are also many shops around the city center, so there is plenty to do before it’s time to meet up with the others for dinner. After the show, it is a short walk to the typical Spanish night market where you can choose your own meal, from a range of Spanish and International cuisine, accompanied, of course, by some superb Spanish wine.
Epona offers complimentary transport to Seville airport and the train station. The first trip is at 8 a.m. and the last will be at 11 a.m. Have a safe onward journey and Epona looks forward to welcoming you back!
A large number of highly trained horses and well thought out programs, enable to accommodate beginners through to advanced riders.
The qualified instructors bring a wealth of riding and training experience to the lessons.
Personal and close attention from the García family will make you feel like a valued guest and friend.
Top class facilities (including a covered arena) and ancient trail riding routes are complemented by luxury accommodation in the medieval town of Carmona.
The programs combine riding with the historical, cultural, and scenic experiences the unique location offers.
They enjoy an average of 300 days of sunshine.
The only riding holiday center in Spain officially approved by the British Horse Society.
They offer 35 years of uninterrupted experience in hosting and training riding holiday guests from around the world.
Epona is world-renowned for its depth and quality of classically trained, yet kind and generous, Spanish horses. Epona owns a large number of horses to offer to guests. They have around 30+ horses presently in work with guests, this number contrasts with the small groups they host at Epona, which normally, on average, are of six to eight riders.
They find that this large number is necessary not only to cover the needs of the variety of riders that come to Epona, from beginners to advanced dressage riders but also that this large number will ensure the horses are well-rested and never overworked. This, they find, is key in keeping them happy in their work and consequently, willing and light.
In addition to these 30+ horses working in the programs, they always keep a small number of younger horses in training who will join the team in the future. At Epona, they retire all horses once their working days are over. As a part of the family, to them, it's important that they live their last years in an environment they know feeling safe, cared for, and valued. It is the least they can do after a life service.
Carmona is the oldest continually inhabited town in Europe and as you stroll through the narrow streets of the old town, you will feel and breathe the spirits of ancient cultures (Iberians, Visigoths, Phoenicians, Romans, Moors), in the innumerable examples of their architectural influence in the churches, towers, palaces, and mansions, as well as in the inherited customs.
Carmona is one of Europe’s hidden gems and is a destination in its own right. You will never tire of wandering the streets and will discover that its timeless beauty changes from sunrise to sunset, and then at night. Carmona takes on a magical glow that will leave you spellbound. With at least 56 small cafes and bars, you will be spolied for choice when it comes to a bite to eat or a refreshing drink.
All breakfasts and lunches are included in the price of your Epona program. They also will be offering a welcome dinner on the first evening (Sunday), so the only meals not included are dinners from Monday to Friday (and Saturday if you are participating in the Rafael Soto clinic).
Lunches will be served at Epona and will consist of freshly prepared homecooked, combining mainly traditional Spanish, dishes, which give you a taste of the renowned Mediterranean diet, with some international dishes and a selection of delicious homemade desserts. In addition, a variety of fresh salad ingredients and fruit are always available.
Epona can cater to most diets including vegetarian and gluten and lactose-free, etc. The evening meals from Monday to Friday are not included in the price. From Monday to Thursday, you will find innumerable dining options in the immediate vicinity of the hotel, from elegant restaurants to tapas bars with tables in the street.
In the hotel alone, there are five possibilities, including room service, if you just feel like a quiet night resting. About two blocks walk away from the hotel, you can find the city’s hub of socializing where families meet in the evening for coffee, tapas, or ice cream. This is the Plaza San Fernando, popularly known as the Plaza de Arriba (the Upper Square) or la Plaza Redonda (the Round Square).
Yes, the wonderful cook can cater for the normal diets of vegetarian, vegan, gluten-free, lactose-free, low sodium, etc. However, they do not cater to special diets like Halal or Kosher.
Flamenco dancing lessons with a professional dancer
Flamenco guitar lessons
Flamenco singing lessons
Epona is located between the beautiful cities of Seville, with many tourist attractions and spectacular monuments, and Carmona with its rustic charm and ancient pedigree. The cities of Cordoba (one hour away), Ronda and Granada (two hours away) are ideal for day trips.
Epona can arrange grammar or conversation lessons with a qualified teacher.
A professional masseur will help with your back and bones after a hard day of riding. You must book in advance.
Around Seville, there are five golf clubs where you can practice your favorite sport all year round. Epona can arrange reservations and transport, if you have your own car, they can provide directions.
There are several cycling companies that hire bikes and organize bike tours in the area.
Doñana and the village of El Rocío with its famous Basilica is only one hour away.
Transfer not provided
Epona offers complimentary transfers to and from the Seville train station at pre-set times.
If you prefer to travel straight to your hotel from the airport, please let Epona know and they can organize a taxi for you. You will pay the driver in person and the transfer time is usually less than 20 minutes.
8 a.m. first transfer and 11 a.m. last transfer. If you require a different departure time or day from the hotel to the airport or train station, please let Epona know and they can organize a taxi for you. You will pay the driver in person and the transfer time is usually less than 25 minutes to both the airport and the station.
For this organizer you can guarantee your booking through BookHorseRidingHolidays.com. All major credit cards supported.
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