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This is a seven-night program that combines Dressage lessons OR trail riding with cultural excursions to Jerez, Seville, Carmona, and Cordoba. Guests have the option of five group Dressage lessons OR four trail rides of approximately 8 to 10 hours trail riding, across the week. Whichever you choose, your week will be interspersed with visits to some of the most beautiful and historical heritage sites in Andalusia!
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 group Dressage lessons option (group lessons are typically made up of two to three riders at a similar level and never more than four) are designed to help riders improve their confidence, skills, and abilities whilst following Classical Dressage principles. Lessons are progressive, safe, fun but very informative. You will feel riding and knowledge development as the week progresses.
If you choose the trail ride option, you will enjoy riding through the stunning Andalusian countryside that surrounds Epona. You will ride through fields of wheat, sunflowers, and cotton, through olive groves, and past historical haciendas and Roman remains with nothing other than bird song and the breeze rustling through the crops to disturb your thoughts.
This program can only be offered for groups of a minimum of five (maximum 12) including non-riders. Epona will offer set dates so you can join a group or you can make up a group with friends and partners and choose a week. In this second case, Epona can even tailor the program if you wish to make some changes.
This program is designed for those who are passionate about horses and who wish to learn more about the Spanish horse, also known as Andalusian or PRE, but equally want to learn and visit as much of Andalusia as possible during their stay. This program is also ideal if you have a non-riding companion travelling with you. It is also designed for those who feel that they are not yet riding fit enough for more than one ride a day.
Typically, the cultural program riders are adults with no upper age restriction. The trail ride option suits riders who are comfortable in steady trots and occasionally balanced canters, on well-manned but responsive horses, along open trails. It is also suitable for beginners who want to take it easy on steady trail rides with an option not to canter, if preferred, or confidence-building lessons.
Please note, if you are not yet comfortable or confident riding along open trails in rising trot and canter, please let them know. They can arrange a bespoke trail riding experience for you.
The dressage lesson option is suitable for riders of all levels as you can split the groups accordingly. Many of the cultural program riders want to enjoy a deeper appreciation of the history and culture that makes this region of Andalusia what it is. After all, Andalusia is where the Spanish Horse, Flamenco, and Sherry originated!
Please note that advanced Dressage horses are reserved for the pure Dressage programs so Epona can’t guarantee these will be available for this program's lessons.
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. Ancient haciendas keep wise and watchful eyes over their surroundings, creating a beautiful reminder of days gone by.
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.
Please note, if you are not yet comfortable or confident riding along open trails in rising trot and canter, please let Epona know, they can arrange a bespoke trail riding experience for you.
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 meters x 60 meters and boasts a top-level competition standard sand and fiber surface to further enhance the quality of your riding experience.
The instructors offer a wealth of experience between them. The knowledge they have 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.
Guests usually arrive in the afternoon and settle into their hotel, an old palace, former residence of a queen, which is nestled in the heart of the breathtakingly beautiful medieval town of Carmona. 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.
TRAIL RIDE - Riders will 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.
DRESSAGE LESSONS - Your first group lesson will allow the instructors to assess your strengths and any areas that need working upon throughout the week. The lessons offer a great opportunity 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 2 or 3 riders at a similar level, and never larger than 4.
A guided tour of Carmona, which is where your hotel is located. You will enjoy a walking tour of this beautiful and incredibly historic town. Built on a hill overlooking a huge valley, the town lies at the foot of the majestic Sierra Morena mountain range. At the time of Julius Cesar, it was one of the most important cities in Spain. You will find many reminders of the Roman and Moorish presence, as can be seen in the city walls, the squares, and fountains that embellish the town.
Finally, in 1247 Ferdinand III of Castile conquered the city, opening a breach in the defensive walls. Over time, churches, buildings, and monasteries were built, turning Carmona into one of the most beautiful and historic towns in Andalusia. To quote the Romans: "As the morning star shines in the dawn, so shines Carmona in Andalucia".
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 and is synonymous with the Spanish horse. The morning's main attraction 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 García trained at this school for four years and frequently performed in the show.
You will also visit the Equestrian Art Museum, where you can marvel at the history of the Spanish horse and high school dressage,from it´s origins to present times, all while enjoying the architecture of the stunning XIX century Place designed by French architect, Charles Garnier.
A guided visit to one of Jerez’s famous Sherry Bodegas. Here, you will learn about the history of one of the world’s most recognized wines, Sherry. Spain is also famous for its Brandy which takes its distinctive flavor from the sherry casks it is aged in. Spain produces over 80 million bottles of brandy a year, 95% of it in Jerez.
Your guided tour gives you a first-hand look into the closely guarded secrets surrounding the creation of sherry. Discover the intricacies of the sherry-making process and the origins. Explore the underground cellars, where hundreds of barrels of sherry are stored, and, of course, enjoy a wine tasting. You will then return to your hotel to enjoy your evening at leisure.
TRAIL RIDE - You will 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 peaches, 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 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.
DRESSAGE LESSONS - Today, you will enjoy your second dressage lesson. You will be further developing your understanding of the principles of Classical Dressage and you will already feel an improvement in your position and balance.
After a freshen up back at your hotel, you will then be taken for a visit into the heart of Seville. You will start at the world-famous Plaza de España, where you will have time to stroll its breathtaking beauty before embarking on a carriage ride through the park then into the historical center of this incredible city.
Here, you will have time to roam the ancient streets of El Bario de Santa Cruz, famous for its flowered balconies and narrow streets, or climb the sloping ramps of the Giralda to see the incredible views across Seville. Seville Cathedral is the largest Gothic cathedral in the world and also the burial place of Christopher Columbus.
Photo opportunities abound and you will never tire of the quaint cobbled streets that wind their way around the imposing palaces, cathedrals, and monuments that combine to make Seville a must-see destination.
TRAIL RIDE - You will set off to explore yet more of the ancient farm trails that surround Epona. By now, you will have fallen in love with the Andalusian countryside, its rich diversity of crops, and the sweeping scenery that is free of fences, punctuated only by olive groves and orchards.
DRESSAGE LESSON - Today, you will enjoy two lessons, one of which will be on the lunge, to really help progress your riding. By now, you will feel more confident in your riding ability and your skills and knowledge will be increasing. You will start to really appreciate the feel and connection the wonderful Epona Spanish horses can give you and you will be riding some more complex shapes and movements.
This afternoon, you will visit the local olive oil farm to learn more about this amazing product. Spain produces about half of the world’s olive oil and its health benefits are well documented. Few know what goes into its production though, so you will find this visit fascinating.
TRAIL RIDE - You will 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 realize that in Andalusia, everyone understands and loves the horse.
DRESSAGE LESSON - Today is your final riding lesson of the week. Depending on your ability, you will be working on some of the more advanced dressage movements and by now, you will have totally fallen in love with the Spanish horse. His kindness, honesty, desire to please, and natural beauty will leave you in awe. It’s no wonder guests can’t wait to return.
You will then enjoy a cooking lesson with Epona's own chef, Rosario, where you will use typical ingredients and methods to produce your own traditional Andalusian lunch. This will, of course, be accompanied by a glass or more of local Spanish wine.
After a relaxing afternoon back in Carmona, get ready to revisit the historical heart of Seville. Here, you can visit the tack shop; it is then time for a classical Flamenco Show. The show features dancers of national and international fame, traditional singers, and wonderful flamenco guitar. Flamenco is a genuine Southern Spanish art. It exists in three forms: Cante, the song, Baile, the dance, and Guitarra, guitar playing.
Romani Gipsies are very often named as the fathers of Flamenco, and at least it can be taken for certain that they played an important part in its creation. But also the popular songs and dances of early Andalusia have influenced early Flamenco considerably.
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.
After an early breakfast you will be taken to the breathtakingly beautiful city of Cordoba. This city is quite literally the birthplace of the Spanish horse.
In 1570, King Philip II, who was a great lover of horses, set out on a scheme to create a purebred Spanish horse. For this reason, he ordered the Royal Stables to be built on land belonging to the Castle of the Christian Monarchs. It is here, in this beautiful setting, that the first-ever purebred Spanish horse, the PRE, more commonly referred to as the Andalusian, was bred.
You will tour the ancient royal stables, which are worth a visit in their own right, and then, depending on the season, you will be able to watch a training session, showcasing some of the descendants of the very first purebred Spanish horses. There will also be time to explore some more of this extraordinary city including the incredible La Mezquita, the world-famous mosque.
Cordoba was founded by the Romans and it became a port city of great importance, used for shipping Spanish olive oil, wine, and wheat back to Ancient Rome. The Romans built the mighty bridge crossing the river, now called "El Puente Romano", but Cordoba’s hour of greatest glory was when it became the capital of the Moorish kingdom of Al-Andalus, and this was when work began on the Great Mosque, or "Mezquita", which over the centuries, became one of the largest in all of Islam.
When the city was reconquered by the Christians in 1236, the new rulers of the city were so awed by its beauty that they left it standing, building their cathedral in the midst of its rows of arches and columns, and creating the extraordinary church-mosque you see today. There is no shortage of places to enjoy a tapas lunch and Cordoba is full of boutique stores, from which to buy souvenirs, or you may prefer to wander the tiny alleyways and quaint courtyards, soaking up the atmosphere of this extraordinary city.
Finally, enjoy the last evening at your hotel or you may prefer to enjoy your final evening stroll through the streets of old Carmona whilst reminiscing about the wonders that make Andalusia what it is.
Epona offers complimentary transport to Seville airport and train station. The first trip is at 8 a.m. and the second 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.
During your stay, you will enjoy cultural excursions to the heart of Carmona, Seville, Jerez, and Cordoba.
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 Saturday.
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 Saturday are not included in the price. From Monday to Friday, 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.
Please note, that Epona can offer tailor-made programs for groups of 5 to 12 riders and non-riders. They can add more riding, offer a combination of lessons and trail rides or change some of the activities. They can also extend the program by adding one or 2 more days of activities. Some other activities that can be arranged are:
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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