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Spain Train and Trail Riding Program

This is a 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. The combination of trail riding through the charming Andalusian countryside and quality lessons on superbly trained Spanish horses offer a unique holiday 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, you now have a holiday opportunity of a lifetime.

Key Information

  • Rider Weight Limit: 209 pounds / 95 kilograms
  • Horse Heigh Range: 15 to 17 hands
  • Tack Type: English type
  • Horse Breed: Andalusians and Andalusian crossbreeds

Meet the instructors

Viviana
Read more

Highlights

  • Daily afternoon equitation lessons
  • Enjoy the "Old Hacienda", "Roman Bridge", and beach rides
  • Ride through olive and orange groves, and past farmers working the land
  • Daily breakfast and lunch and one welcome dinner
  • Transport from and to local excursions
  • Complimentary airport transfers
  • 6 nights’ accommodation

Skill level

  • Beginner
  • Intermediate
  • Advanced

Styles


5 days with instruction in English
The organizer also speaks: Spanish
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Accommodation

Check-in Time:
16:30
Check-out Time:
11:00

Facilities

  • Sauna
  • Spa
  • Swimming pool (outdoor)
  • Bar
  • Lounge
  • Restaurant
  • Dry cleaning
  • Free Wi-Fi
  • Laundry
  • Parking lot

Your accommodation is in a 4-star hotel, complete with a swimming pool, nestled in the nearby medieval town of Carmona, one of the famous white villages of Andalucia. The accommodation for all the Epona programmes, and full buffet breakfast will be included at the Alcazar de la Reina, a beautiful 4-star superior category hotel in the heart of the historic and monumental centre of the old part of the city of Carmona, just a few minutes drive away from the Hacienda.

The rooms are ample, airy, comfortable, and very tastefully furnished and feature:

  • Full en-suite bathroom (tub and shower)
  • Air-conditioning and central heating
  • Satellite TV
  • Safe
  • Minibar (consumption not included in the price)
  • Hair-dryer
  • It is possible to upgrade the room status to a Superior or DeLuxe double room, Junior Suite or Suite. Please send an inquiry 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 multilingual staff, who are available at all times, ready to make your stay within these ancient walls, a truly unforgettable experience.

Equestrian facilities

Epona's excellent bespoke training facilities include irrigated indoor and outdoor schools and exercise track, which help make your lessons dust free and more enjoyable, especially through the heat of a Seville summer. The indoor arena is 20 x 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 wash down and farrier areas, tie-up stalls, tack and feed rooms, etc.

The barn is surrounded by the 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.

Other services available at the hotel

  • Room service
  • Private parking
  • Laundry and dry cleaning service
  • Sauna, massage, and beauty treatments (upon request and subject to availability)
  • Business center: Fax and photocopy service
  • Wi-Fi internet in all the public areas
  • International magazines and newspapers
  • Swimming pool towels
  • Florist (upon request and subject to availability)
  • Outwith the normal Epona transfer times, shuttle service to/from airport and train station

Program

Who is this program for?

The combination of “trail and training” is ideal for riders of all levels who believe that trail riding is one of the best ways to have fun, make new friends and to see Spain from another angle whilst also improving their riding skills. This program is also ideal for those who feel that they are not yet riding fit enough for up to three riding lessons a day as they offer in some of their specific Dressage training courses.

During your stay with Epona, you can relax in stunningly beautiful surroundings away from the stress of modern-day lifestyles, while devoting some time to improving your horse riding skills so that your confidence, and enjoyment of, horses will increase greatly over the week. Typically, the trail and training riders are adults, with no upper age restriction, who are comfortable in a steady trot and canter, along open trails on a well mannered horse.

However, they regularly design bespoke programs for less experienced or less confident riders as well as for accompanied children. Please don’t hesitate to ask Epona to help you design a suitable trail and training program that meets your needs. Please note, the advanced dressage horses are reserved for the pure dressage program so they can’t guarantee these will be available for the trail and training program lessons.

Trail riding

  • IMPORTANT: The beach ride is not available during the months of July and August and can be replaced by another trail ride or a lesson at Epona.
  • 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 horses 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, when collecting olive oil taxes.
  • One of your rides will be in the Doñana Natural Park, one of the largest natural reservations in Europe. You will be riding through sandy dunes where the air will be scented by lavender, thyme, rosemary, and the nearby ocean. When you reach the virgin beach of “El Asperillo”, you will encounter one of the most beautiful beaches anywhere in the world for a long spellbinding trot and canter.

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.

Training

  • The establishment is world renowned for its depth and quality of classically trained, yet kind and generous, Spanish 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 beginners to advanced dressage riders.
  • The excellent bespoke facilities include irrigated indoor and outdoor schools and exercise track, which help make your lessons dust free and more enjoyable, especially through the heat of a Seville summer. The indoor arena is 20 x 60 meters and boasts a top level competition standard sand and fiber surface to further enhance the quality of your riding experience.
  • 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 head instructor at Epona, is also a graduate from 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 whether to a first time rider or a lifetime rider.

Day 1: Sunday

  • Afternoon

Guests usually arrive in the afternoon and settle in to their hotel, a former palace built for a queen, which is nestled in the heart of the breathtakingly beautiful medieval town of Carmona. They offer 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 they hope will be an unforgettable week. Welcome to Epona!

Day 2: Monday

  • Morning

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 coutryside, 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.

  • Afternoon

Equitation lessons will take place in the afternoon. These offer a great opportunity to improve your school work, position or dressage skills and they will also teach you how to communicate better with your horse. Group sizes are usually of 2 or 3 riders at a similar level, and never larger than 4.

Day 3: Tuesday

  • Morning

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 priviledge 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.

  • Afternoon

Equitation lessons.

Day 4: Wednesday

  • Morning

After breakfast, mount up and set off across 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 a 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 heaven 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.

  • Afternoon

Equitation lesson.

Day 5: Thursday

  • Morning

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 horses 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.

IMPORTANT: This beach ride is not available during the months of July and August and can be replaced by another trail ride or a lesson at Epona.

  • Afternoon

Equitation lesson.

Day 6: Friday

  • Morning

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 as long as you have respect for the crop. By now, you will realise that in Andalucia, everyone understands and loves the horse. Return to Epona for lunch.

  • Afternoon

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.

Day 7: Saturday

  • Morning

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!

Horses

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 we host at Epona, which normally, on average, are of 6 to 8 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 program, 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, 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..

Epona is home to a large number of High School trained dressage horses, available to riding guests for lessons, this is something that is not very commonly found. This is made even more special by the fact they are Spanish horses, many of them purebred, and that most of them have been trained at Epona by Vivi Garcia, Epona’s Principal Instructor and General Manager.

The Garcia family have personally selected every stallion, gelding, and mare you will ride. They look for temperament, trainability, ridabilty, suitability, a kind and gentle manner, a willingness to please and, because they are Spanish horses, they will help you look and feel like royalty.

Vivi is responsible for the training of all the horses. She knows each and every one in depth and she often rides even the most established of Epona’s horses, to keep their training fine tuned. As a result, Epona is able to offer a large number of schoolmaster horses, of all ages, who are trained to teach riders the correct feel for the more advanced movements as well as the basics.

Due to their inherent kind and generous nature, many of the horses also regularly help less experienced riders improve their skills, confidence, and abilities. It is not unusual for 12 or more individual horses, across just one day of lessons, to give their riders a feel for Piaffe, Passage, Canter Pirouettes, Flying Changes, and of course, Spanish Walk.

It is this depth of horsepower that helps make Epona stand out from the crowd. Epona’s trail ride horses are well mannered, forward going, well-schooled (many are also used in lessons or for lunge sessions), kind, generous, and full of personality.

They like nothing better than travelling the trails that date back to Roman times, or even earlier, whilst sharing with their riders the peace, quiet, and natural beauty that surrounds Epona. Whichever training program you choose, you will be forever in awe of the horses you meet during your time at Epona.

Instructors

Viviana Garcia

Location

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.

Features

Activities

  • Golf course
  • Horse riding
  • Hot tub / Jacuzzi
  • Massage
  • Sauna
  • Spa
  • Swimming pool (outdoor)

General

  • Air-conditioned rooms
  • Bar
  • Concierge desk
  • In-room safe
  • Lounge
  • Multilingual staff
  • Restaurant
  • Patio

Services

  • Dry cleaning
  • Free Wi-Fi
  • Hair dryer
  • In-room dining
  • Laundry
  • Parking lot
  • Tour assistance

Food

All breakfasts are included in the price of your Epona program; also included in the welcome tapas supper on Sunday evening. Lunches will be served at Epona and will consist of freshly prepared and homecooked meals, combining mainly traditional Spanish dishes, which will 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 fruits are always available. Epona can cater to most diets including vegetarian, 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 having a quiet night of rest. About two blocks 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).

The following meals are included:

  • Breakfast
  • Lunch

The following dietary requirement(s) are served and/or catered for:

  • Vegetarian
  • Gluten Free
  • Regular (typically includes meat and fish)
  • Lactose Free
  • Other dietary requirements on request
If you have special dietary requirements it's a good idea to communicate it to the organiser when making a reservation

Things to do (optional)

Flamenco Lessons

Flamenco Dancing Lessons with a professional dancer.

  • 3 one-hour group sessions (Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday at preset times)
  • 50 EUR (Cost per person is divided by the number of participants)
  • Maximum number of participants: 5

Flamenco Guitar Lessons

  • 3 one-hour individual lessons with a professional teacher (Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday at preset times)
  • 50 EUR per session (Guitar rental included)

Flamenco Singing Lessons

  • 3 one-hour individual lessons with a professional singer (Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday at preset times)
  • 50 EUR per session

Sightseeing

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.

Spanish Lessons

Epona can arrange grammar or conversation lessons with a qualified teacher.

Massage

A professional masseuse will help with your back and bones after a hard day of riding; you must book in advance.

Flying

At Sevilla Airport (SVQ), you can hire small planes for an hour. An official pilot must command the plane only for landing and taking off. You can enjoy the rest of the adventure.

Golf

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.

What's included

  • All trail riding and afternoon equitation lessons
  • Tours and services as described in the program
  • 6 nights accommodations
  • Daily breakfasts and lunches
  • Welcome dinner on the first evening
  • Roundtrip Seville train station transfers
  • Use of all amenities

What's not included

  • Tickets for the horse show in Jerez (29 EUR)
  • The Flamenco Show in Seville (35 EUR)
  • 5 meals (4 evening dinners in Carmona and the last one in Seville, on Friday evening)
  • Airfare
  • Additional activities

How to get there

Recommended Airports

Arrival by bus, shuttle, and train

Epona offers complimentary transfers to and from the Seville train station at pre-set times.

Arrivals on Sunday

  • 4:30 p.m. pick up at the Seville train station inside the main building in front of "AVIS" rent a car office.
  • There is a free shuttle bus from the airport to the train station. The airport and train station is 10 minutes away.
  • 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.

Departures from the hotel on Saturdays only (To train station or airport)

  • 8:00 a.m. first transfer.
  • 11:00 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.

Cancellation Policy

  • A reservation requires a deposit of 20% of the total price.
  • The deposit is non-refundable, if the booking is cancelled.
  • The rest of the payment should be paid 30 days before arrival.

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