I knew this was the holiday for me as soon as I saw the Los Alamos website with photos and profiles of each individual horse. Rachel, our host, cares passionately about both horses and guests and skillfully matches the right horse and rider according to experience, preferences and personalities. I loved my horse for the week, a beautiful 16 hands grey-roan Andalucian with a flaxen mane and tail called Zalamero. He was that perfect blend of forward going and spirited, yet gentle and kind and was the nicest horse I have ridden on any of my riding holidays around the world.
The riding was varied and fun, especially the exhilarating beach gallops and we all agreed that cantering through the surf on this totally unspoilt stretch of coastline under the hot Spanish sun was an unbeatable experience.
|Zal and I enjoy the surf. |
We enjoyed spectacular views out to Africa as we ascended the old Roman Road along the cliffs and then welcomed the dappled shade of the forest and the chance to give the horses a break. The forests offered winding canter tracks through the trees and exciting gallops too: the sandy undulating rollercoaster ride, the wide open fire break gallop and the uphill gallop through eucalyptus.
On some of the days we started our ride early and finished at Los Alamos for a late lunch consisting of fresh bread, salad, cold meats, cheese, Spanish tortilla omelette, sliced tomatoes and olives, together with wine, beer or soft drinks as we preferred. On other days we took a lunch break during the ride, tying the horses up in the shade and stopping at a local bar for tapas including grilled swordfish and chicken, sherry pork, home made chips and salads.
Our afternoons were spent relaxing; either strolling through the forests, walking down to the beach or sunbathing in the 30 degree plus sunshine on cushioned loungers around the pool. There is also a shady beach hut to escape to if the heat gets too much.
Dinners, eaten under the stars around the circular stone table under the trees were a highlight. Rhiannon’s cooking consisted of a lovely variety of healthy home made dishes. Some personal favourites were tomato and basil soup, Spanish chicken casserole and piri piri spiced barbecued prawns. Delicious desserts included chocolate cointreau mousse, poached pears with yogurt and cream and a fabulous lemon cheesecake. Plenty of second helpings were enjoyed by all.
The horses have a rest day on Thursdays and Andrew took us to Jerez to visit the Royal School of Equestrian Art, the breeding and training centre with over 100 Andalucian stallions. We saw the carriage horses being prepared for work, browsed around the museum, then marvelled at the choreographed dressage display to music in the 1600 seat indoor arena, where horses performed piaffe, passage and pirouettes to music as well as the Spanish movements: the flamboyant Spanish walk with its high steps and the Capriole, a spectacular leap with hind legs kicking out into the air.
We also fitted in a visit to Hipisur, a well stocked tack shop where I couldn’t resist buying Spanish chaps and a sherry tasting where we sampled the whole range from dry finos through to the rich raisiny Pedro Ximenex varieties.
I can thoroughly recommend a holiday at Los Alamos, fantastic horses, great riding, welcoming hosts, beautiful environment and just so much fun……