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4 Days Wondrous Classical Dressage Riding Holiday in Ota, Portugal

Quinta do Archino, Ota, Alenquer, Lisbon District, Oeste, Centro Region, Portugal

Mesmerizing Horse Riding Holiday in Portugal

This listing has one of the 10 most popular offers available in Portugal

Come and join this vacation for a marvelous horse riding holiday in Centro Region, Portugal! During this holiday, you will stay at Quinta do Archino, home to Francisco de Bragança and his classical dressage school, to learn how to ride a horse, or if you already know how to ride, you'll have a chance to learn how to become a better rider. Set in the beautiful Portuguese countryside, the Quinta do Archino and its fully equipped facilities can offer a wealth of equestrian services for riders of all levels and experience. There is also a great deal for non-riders to see and do right here or through guided tours and activities in the region.

Key information

  • Horse height range: 15.6 - 16.7 hands
  • Tack type: English tack
  • Horse breed: Lusitano horses

Meet the instructors

D. Francisco
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  • 6 horse riding lessons
  • Hacking through the forest
  • Dressage movements demonstration
  • Experienced horse riding instructor
  • Ample land and forest to explore
  • 3 nights' accommodation

Skill level

  • Beginner
  • Intermediate
  • Advanced


3 days with instruction in English
The organizer also speaks: French, Spanish
The maximum participants in the group is 6
Airport transfer available:
Lisbon Portela Airport (US$61 per person)
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Your accommodation is in a traditional farmhouse, featuring twin rooms with en-suite facilities, a communal dining room, and sitting room with wireless internet access, cable TV, and a log fire to welcome you on colder winter nights. In Quinta do Archino, you can enjoy leisurely meals together in the dining room recounting tales of the day. The atmosphere is relaxed and the dress is informal. An inviting private swimming pool, terrace, and mature garden conveniently overlook the outdoor riding school.


The facilities include a 15 meters x 30 meters indoor arena with mirrors, working equitation paddock, lunge pen, wash-boxes, and tack-room. Outside, there is a 20 meters x 60 meters covered arena, designed to welcome you. You are also well-catered for with a wonderful riders' lounge. The viewing gallery to the indoor arena has sliding windows so you can feel that you're part of the action and continue to learn even when you are not riding. There is a spacious indoor arena and also a large outdoor arena so two groups can be having lessons at the same time. The stables are a good size in barn stabling and there is a spacious tack room with modern Portuguese traditional tack that is kept clean and well displayed. Another example of traditional and modern blending perfectly.


A maximum of six riding guests will stay at any one time so that individual attention is absolutely assured; all the lessons are one to one. You are welcome to watch and film from the gallery to learn as much as possible during your stay. Choose from classical dressage, work-in-hand, or lunge lessons in any combination you wish, taken indoors or outdoors.

Classical Riding Lessons

Horse riders of all ages and all abilities are welcome to come here to learn from these beautiful schoolmasters. Quinta do Archino have regular students, ranging from novice riders to grand prix competition riders, traveling from the UK, USA, France, Germany, Sweden, Russia, Australia, and of course Portugal. Your lessons may take place either in the shade of the indoor school (15 meters x 30 meters) or in the fenced outdoor school (20 meters x 60 meters). Some students progress to having their lessons out on the farm, practicing what has been learned out on the open grassy plains.

Sample Itinerary

Day 1

You will have an orientation of the stables and horses, tack room, viewing gallery, paddocks, indoor, and outdoor school. You will also browse the photographs, new and old, reflecting the airs of dressage in the bullring and in the ménage. You will see beautiful examples of historical saddlery, stirrups, bridles, and bits. Then, you have the opportunity to ask Francisco questions about tack in general and Portuguese saddlery in particular. This is followed by a demonstration lesson from Francisco, introducing the dressage movements in English (the working language if Portuguese is not spoken) and the layout of the school.

Understanding the importance of 10-meter, 20-meter circles, the center line and quarter lines, serpentines, volts, and loops are vital, so your understanding of the demands of your own lessons are fully understood. Francisco also introduces the names of all movements in English for a clear understanding of dressage airs (the actual perfecting of these airs gracefully is part of your lessons). This is followed by an informal question and answer session, normally extended to continue over lunch.

Weather and tradition dictates that the horses rest between 13:00 to 16:00 with lessons in the afternoon starting around 16:30. Lessons come in several forms. Riding the horse is one and listening to direct instruction from Francisco is another but much can be learned from self-reflection (when Francisco asks you for feedback on your own riding performance). Listening to the instruction of others and watching and reflecting on successes and mistakes of others is also another learning opportunity as is actually watching Francisco ride. Much can also be learned from observing him while he is training young stock. He is always open to answering questions.

Normally, guests have two lessons a day and Francisco is a master of marrying horse to a rider to allow the rider to learn as much as possible from the chosen horse. If riders prefer, they can change their mounts for future lessons.

Day 2

Lessons normally start at 09:00 after breakfast served at 08:00. There are ample land and forest to run, walk, cycle around, and explore before breakfast or in the cool of an evening. Lessons are given indoors or outdoors according to need and weather. Individual lessons are the norm but some guest like to double up with friends. Francisco always advises taking lots of photographs and videos of your riding as a learning aid. So, please be advised to bring a camera, videos, iPads, phones, etc. to record your progress.

Over meals and rest times, these photographs become central learning tools (are your heels down? Are you behind the vertical? Are you leaning to one side? Are your hands too far up? Did you make the horse lose balance at that point and why?) After lunch, there is the obligatory rest period for the horses and then, lessons start again around 16:30. Discussions about the day’s events overlap into dinner where riding experiences are shared and much is learned and more is laughed over.

Day 3

The days are repeated with a lesson in the morning and one in the afternoon. There is a rich library of books to choose from in the living room offering insights into dressage from Versailles to the wisdom of Nuno Oliviera. Not only words but also fantastic photographs. The family also have a collection of DVDs of past horses that have owned and have been sold to Scandinavia or Europe; demonstrations of specific dressage movements, some wonderful music, and some vintage footage of Maestro Oliviera himself making art with his horses in a very small ménage.

It is possible to completely lose yourself in things dressage at the Quinta, but there are also other things to do and achieve during your visit. For instance, if you prefer, you can ride out and hack through the forest where you and your horse can enjoy the peace of a cork forest trail and savor the views of the region from vantage points and learn about the fauna and wild animal of the region. All hacks are supervised and riders are accompanied at all times.

D. Francisco de Bragança

Francisco de Bragança has been breeding and training Lusitano horses for over 40 years. As a young man, he trained with Mestres Nuno Oliveira and David Ribeiro Telles and he is passionate about conserving classical principles for the benefit of all horses and riders. Francisco is a natural teacher with a keen sense of exactly what each rider needs in order to progress. Some riders say that they learn more here in one week than they have done in many years of riding previously at home.

Here, the learning does not stop outside the school gates. So much more is confirmed and enhanced through relaxed conversation and discussion, around the dining table or by the poolside, or on the way to see the mares and foals on the farm. Fluent in English, French, Spanish, and Portuguese, Francisco has a wonderful feast of stories to tell which he delivers with a perfect blend of passion and humor.

Francisco began riding bareback on the family farm of Quinta do Archino at the age of five, under the guidance of the man he calls his first master, his father, Don Carlos de Bragança. From 1974, he was living and working with Mestre David Ribeiro Telles, whose famous family continue to this day to demonstrate classical principles in the bullfight ring. In 1980, Francisco began three unforgettable years of training with Mestre Nuno Oliveira at Avessada. 1984 saw the start of 10 years working with the breeder Cunha e Carmo, developing a keen eye for selection of the best horses for breeding, while also taking horses for training.

From 1999, he spent two and a half years as a head instructor and trainer at Quinta de Sanguinera. In 2003, he returned to Quinta do Archino to build a classical dressage school. Sylvia Loch, a like-minded friend, immediately supported Francisco through personal recommendation and by co-hosting regular clinics there. She continues to give all the support she can. Francisco de Bragança is a Lusitano horse breeder, horse trainer, classical dressage teacher, and host of clinics and demonstrations.


The horses are regularly ridden by Francisco to ensure that they remain unspoiled schoolmasters. Often, he will present a short demonstration on the horse you will ride before the lesson, clearly explaining the correct position and aids. The horses are proud, sensitive Lusitano stallions. Finely tuned to the lightest aids allowing you not only to feel how to ride all the school movements, perhaps for the very first time, also able to help you to improve any horse you ride in the future. All are trained in the lateral movements and the more advanced horses offer piaffe and passage. They will be groomed and tacked up by a member of staff allowing you to relax and focus entirely on your lesson.

In the stable, the purebred Lusitano horses live like kings, with their every need catered for. They are hooved and groomed to perfection before each session. Their long flowing manes and tails brushed, hoof dressing applied and brushing boots fitted, as well as checking their mouths and teeth. Regular turn-outs in the paddocks keep the horses healthy and happy. These are not your ordinary dressage schoolmasters; they are beautiful, well-muscled horses, so bursting with health that you just can't wait to ride.

Diu (30-01-2008)

  • Fantastic character, gentle, and very calm for everybody
  • Loves trails and hackings

Ghandi (5-11-2011)

  • Lusitano gelding
  • 15.3 hands
  • Lateral movements (shoulders in, shoulders out, leg yielding, half pass, quarters-in, quartes-out, and flying changes)
  • Ideal for a school riding center, a perfect teacher
  • Great for trails and Ghandi loves it
  • A horse for everybody

Gingão (14-04-2008)

  • Amazing horse for schooled riding center
  • Very calm and gentle, fantastic for trails and beautiful in the carriages
  • Lateral movements (shoulders in, shoulders out, leg yielding, half pass, quarters-in, quartes-out, flying changes)

Xenofonte (26-02-2004)

  • A cross Lusitano
  • 14 years old and 16.7 hands
  • A perfect horse for a school riding center, trails, and also carriage
  • A sport horse
  • Lateral movements (shoulders in, shoulders out, leg yielding, half pass, quarters-in, and quartes-out)
  • A great horse for lessons and a notorious teacher
  • Very gentle and friendly


  • 165 centimeters Lusitano breeding stallion
  • Sensitive with superb floating extended paces and excellent piaffe and passage

Zip (26-02-2004)

  • 16.2 hands Lusitano gelding
  • Small but powerful
  • Superb flying changes and canter lateral work
  • Lateral movements (shoulders in, shoulders out, leg yielding, half pass, quarters-in, quartes-out, flying changes, piaffe) all in pass trot and canter
  • Fantastic horse for work equitation, very gentle
  • Ideal for a school riding center and a perfect teacher
  • Great for trails, Zip loves it!


D. Francisco de Bragança


This horse riding holiday will take place in Quinta do Archino, Centro Region, Portugal. Located in Ota, it is 50 kilometers or 45 minutes from Lisbon, with good roads and access. Situated in the unspoiled peace and tranquility of cork, pine, and eucalyptus trees, gentle hills, and rivers lined with bamboo, the farm is integrated into a beautiful area situated in Alenquer. Hitch maintain the particular aspects of the region, you are encouraged to enjoy the welcoming landscape and explore the excellent conditions for group hiking, jogging, biking, or simply for family walks; a place to gather with nature.

Quinta do Archino is a horse rider’s dream. No cars, no gates to open, the perfect footing all year round and no sound, save that of nature. Completely at one with your horse, you can simply be free to explore and enjoy all that is Quinta do Archino. The farm has 300 hectares of endless sandy tracks to explore. Small, undulating hills are here to climb for the best views with sprawling grassy plains to play upon and gentle streams to cross.

It is worth getting to know the possibilities of Quinta do Archino. It is a rural farm where you can find a natural mountain biking track, multipurpose fields, and olive grove at your disposal. Of course, the major focus of the farm is the horses where tradition goes from generation to generation and where this activity is itself a part of the cultural and social patrimony. You are made to feel completely at home here at Quinta do Archino. The farm is also very popular with non-riding partners and friends; it is an easy drive away from the coast with many historic towns, vineyards, golf courses, and a shooting range nearby.

Nearby places

  • Lisbon, 50 kilometers - 45 minutes
  • Ota village, 4 kilometers
  • Praia d'el Rey Golf and Beach Resort - 40 minutes by car
  • Rio Major - 25 minutes
  • Seacoast, 40 meters
  • The Silver Coast of Portugal - 1 hour



  • Cycling
  • Horse riding
  • Mountain biking
  • Swimming
  • Swimming pool (outdoor)


  • Dining area
  • Fireplace
  • Garden
  • Lounge
  • Terrace


  • Internet access
  • Wireless internet


All meals are made home using local biological products from the garden. Clara and Isabel (the employees) are local experts in local cuisine with access to members of the local farming community for access to local fresh produce (i.e., goat meat, pig meat, lamb, fruit (seasonal and from the farm), and fresh vegetables). Quinta do Archino can also cater to those with special dietary needs (i.e., gluten-free, vegetarian, vegan, dairy free, etc.). Bread is bought daily and is super fresh from a local baker who is 68 years old and hand kneads her dough then bakes her bread in a wood burning stove.

Clara and Isabella, the special cooks, plan the meals for every day. Meals are based on traditional Portuguese recipes, some reflecting authentic rural flavors and textures, some reflecting tastes of times gone by. The olive oil is local and biological. The meals are served with locally produced red wine (seasonal) and / or soft drinks. Local wine can also be bought locally. Coffee and fruit are also a specialty of the house. The meals are generous and filling for those with an active riding schedule or can be lighter for those less active.

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

  • Vegetarian
  • Vegan
  • Gluten 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)

Birdwatching and nature walks

The size, location, and maintenance of Quinta do Archino creates an ideal environment for a rich biodiversity of flora and birds. The sandy tracks may lead you to small woods of cork, pine, and eucalyptus trees, or over wooden bridges and gentle hills, or into secret grassy meadows and old farm buildings, or to the natural lake, which is a haven to the storks and ducks who nest nearby.


Cycling enthusiasts can follow the route markers or make their own way around the 380 hectares of surrounding hills and farmland. Those who seek to cycle further afield will find many small towns to explore as well as local vineyards, rivers, and the Silver Coast of Portugal, all within a couple of hours ride.


Quinta do Archino can arrange golfing activities for you with a discount of up to 30% off the advertised cost at two of Portugal's most spectacular golf courses. The Golden Eagle Golf Resort is situated at Rio Major, a 25-minute drive from Quinta do Archino and The Praia d'el Rey Golf Resort overlooks the Atlantic Ocean and is about a 45-minute drive.

Picnic (130 EUR)

You will begin at Quinta do Archino and ride in the direction of Quinta da Ameixoeira (another charming farm) where you will have a picnic. After that, you will come home during sunset for a special meal and drinks by the swimming pool.


Ideally suited for sightseeing, many of the guests most popular destinations are all within a one-hour drive from Quinta do Archino. Obidos is a centuries-old, well-preserved medieval town with castles, cobbled streets, and annual festivals. Nazare is a traditional fishing town with a spectacular view of the beach. Lisbon is the capital city on the banks of the river Tejo, plenty to do and see here day or night. Golega is a small, picturesque town, probably most famous for the annual horse fair in early November.

Also, there is Alenquer, which is one of many famous Portuguese wine regions and lies close by. It has many vineyards worth visiting for those who are seeking to sample some of the classic local varieties of wine. Quinta do Archino is also one hour away from the area known as The Silver Coast of Portugal, which runs from just north of Lisbon to the fishing town of Nazare.

Visiting Equestrian school of art and the Coach Museum

For real enthusiasts, Quinta do Archino can also provide visits to the Equestrian School of Art and the Coach Museum (a visit guide is provided).

Other activities

  • Exploring world heritage places (such as Óbidos (west coast of Portugal), historical villages such as Alenquer, as well as the seacoast)
  • Visiting wineries

What's included

  • 6 horse riding lessons
  • 3 nights' accommodation

How to get there

Recommended Airports

Driving directions from Lisbon Portela Airport (LIS)

  • Take the A1 heading north.
  • Take the exit for Carregado or Alenquer.
  • Follow the signs until you reach the village of Ota.
  • Turn right at the roundabout to cross a small bridge.
  • Turn right immediately after the bridge to pass through the villages of Pacos and Aldeia.
  • Roughly 2 kilometers ahead there is a sign on the right for Quinta do Archino.

Arrival by airplane

Please book your flight to arrive at Lisbon Portela Airport (LIS). Transfer from and to this airport is available upon request.

Quinta do Archino can easily book a taxi to pick you up at the Lisbon Portela Airport (LIS), simply email your flight details to Quinta do Archino. The driver will wait for you at the meeting point, which is signposted on a large column to your right as you exit baggage reclaim and situated within the terminal in front of the exit doors. The current cost for one way is 55 EUR, paid directly to Quinta do Archino at the farm. You may book your return taxi from the farm the day before you leave.

Airport: Lisbon Portela Airport Airport transfer available: Lisbon Portela Airport (US$61 per person) Additional charges may apply. You can request this in the next step.

Cancellation Policy

  • A reservation requires a deposit of 25% of the total price.
  • The deposit is fully refundable if the booking is cancelled up to 30 days before the arrival date.
  • The rest of the payment should be paid on arrival.
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