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This listing has the most popular offer available in Spain
This is a six-night riding holiday designed for those who share Epona's passion for horses and wish to get to know this amazing part of Spain on horseback. If you have been looking for an amazing experience, you now have a holiday opportunity of a lifetime. The program also includes 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. The program runs in the mornings which allows for a free afternoon to rest or enjoy the many sights this area has to offer.
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 hopes 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.
The program is designed for those who think that trail riding is one of the best ways to have fun, make new friends, and see Spain from another angle whilst also improving their riding skills. So although Epona is a dressage center, they understand that there are people who would much rather ride outside than in the arena and thus they have a holiday option for those too!
This program is also ideal for those who feel that they are not yet riding fit enough to do a morning ride plus an afternoon lesson as they offer in some of the other programs. During your stay, you can relax in stunningly beautiful surroundings away from the stress of modern-day lifestyles and enjoy your equestrian mornings at the farm while leaving plenty of spare time in the afternoons to either relax or to discover this unforgettable part of the world.
Typically, Happy Trails riders are adults, with no upper age restriction, and who are comfortable in a steady trot and canter, along open trails on a well-mannered horse. However, Epona regularly designs bespoke programs for less experienced or less confident riders as well as for accompanied children over 10. Please don’t hesitate to ask to help you design a suitable program that meets your criteria.
Andalusia offers visitors an infinity of interesting things to see and do. It is one of the regions of Spain that most attracts national and international tourists. Its cultural richness, its environmental diversity, and the open and friendly character of its inhabitants are part of the magical elixir that makes Andalusia a preferred tourist destination for people from all corners of the world.
The walled city of Carmona, where you are lodged during your stay is a tourist attraction in itself so it's suggested that you dedicate at least one afternoon to visit its many sights.
From the times of the Phoenicians, Carthaginians, Romans, Moors, etc, Carmona has been a town of great importance due to its privileged geographical situation, sitting on the top of a hill, and its fortifications. From these ancient times, it's left with many vestiges of tourist and cultural interest such as its amphitheater and Roman necropolis, its fortress of Carthaginian origin, its many Baroque and Gothic churches, its convents and palace, etc. All of this and much more make this beautiful place a gem to discover.
The city of Seville, an incomparable and vibrant destination, is less than 30 minutes away. Its Gothic cathedral, its famous Moorish tower, Reales Alcázares, parks, markets, its river and famous bridges, its museums, and so much more, make this city a destination that no one should miss. Also in the area, it is very interesting to visit an olive oil mill, the Roman city of Itálica, or the Arab baths in Seville. The monumental cities of Córdoba and Ronda are just over an hour away.
If you prefer to play sports in your spare time, there are several golf courses in the area and there are companies that rent mountain bikes and organize routes in the area.
Guests usually arrive in the afternoon and settle into their hotel, a former palace once the residence of a queen, which is nestled in the heart of the breathtakingly beautiful medieval town of Carmona. Epona offers a complimentary pick-up from the train station in Seville at 4:30 p.m. They can offer transfers at other times (and days) as long as you let them know in advance.
In the evening, you will be joined at the hotel by one of the 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 Epona hopes will be an unforgettable week. Welcome to Epona!
You will be collected from the hotel and on arrival at Epona, you will have a short guided tour. You will then mount up for the "Old Hacienda Ride", a relaxed trail ride around the immediate countryside, through olive groves and eucalyptus trees. Depending on the season, you could see fields of sunflowers, wheat, and cotton, as well as melons and watermelons in late summer. The ride takes you past impressive 16th and 17th-century Haciendas and Cortijos, steeped in history. Return to Epona for lunch.
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 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 that 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.
After breakfast, mount up and set off across the country for the "Roman Bridge" ride. Depending on the time of the year, you could be riding through fields of sunflowers, wheat, cotton, oranges, or almond trees, and through ancient olive groves still carefully tended and nurtured. It is in the countryside where there are very few fences.
Along the way, you may come across the river, full and flowing in spring, cool and shallow in summer, a natural haven for wildlife, with abundant vegetation all year round. Splashing through the shallows, where you may disturb terns and grebes, you’ll emerge at an old Roman Bridge and shady eucalyptus grove. Return to Epona for lunch.
Today set off early from your hotel to the coast, where sturdy Spanish horses, all in Spanish Andalusian cowboy tack (montura vaquera), will be waiting to take you on the beach ride. The ride takes you on an unforgettable route through the Donaña Natural Park, one of Europe’s last true wilderness regions. This area is home to many species (some protected), such as fallow deer, boar, fox, Iberian lynx, imperial eagles, kites, vultures, storks, flamingos, and herons.
The ride will take you over the golden dunes, full of the scents of the abundant flora, before arriving at the spectacular beach, where there is the opportunity to get the horse's legs wet and to have a trot and a long canter if desired. Doñana Natural Park is one of the hidden gems of Andalusia and you are privileged to be able to ride through it. After the ride, head back to Epona for a late lunch.
Set off across open country for your last trail ride of the week, through olive and orange groves, and past farmers working the land. How strange, in a region where there are no bridle paths, the horse can wander anywhere just so long as you have respect for the crop. By now, you will realize that in Andalucia, everyone understands and loves the horse. Return to Epona for lunch.
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 short walk around, It is 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, if you don’t wish to go to the Flamenco show or you have already seen it, perhaps you would rather 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 plenty of shops to visit near the city center before it is 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 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, they must 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.
The immediate countryside consists of miles of open, slightly rolling land across which it is possible for frequent trots and rhythmical canters. You will be riding through fields of wheat, sunflowers, and olive groves, punctuated by orchards of orange and peach trees. This peaceful landscape, where the only sound you will hear will be the horse's hooves, the soaring birds, and the breeze rushing through the wheat, will let your mind roll back to when the Romans cultivated this land 22 centuries ago and Cervantes rode these same tracks, collecting olive oil taxes.
Please note: If you are not yet comfortable or confident riding along open trails or the beach, in rising trot and canter, please let Epona know. They can arrange a bespoke trail riding experience for you. All guides are fluent in English as well as some other languages.
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 spoiled 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.
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