Photo: Afonso Bordallo Rodrigues; Stallion: Quefito
If I remember correctly, it was in 2010 that a stable mate was thinking out loud, that a Portuguese trainer, Rodrigo Matos, was coming to Finland and she’d love to go with the horse she was riding at our stable but she has neither a horse transport vehicle of any kind nor the required kind of driver’s license. My daughter had moved to France to study, so I had time and I really missed our weekend travels to competitions and trainings. Our horse truck was in France, but I said if I get some friend to lend me a truck, I’d be happy to drive her.
My daughter is a show-jumper and jumping has been more my thing too. I cannot say that I had ever taken dressage lessons by then, I’d call them flat work or basic riding lessons. So, I sat in the indoor arena audience at the Matos dressage training in total awe: can you train like this too?
I googled Rodrigo Matos and found Morgado Lusitano. I started following Morgado Lusitano on Facebook not to lose the contact. For the next seven years – yes, seven (7) years – I tried to find time in my busy work-horse life-social life calendar to go visit. Then came September 2017 and it looked like instead of spending an over-worked month wrapping up one project while ramping up a new project, I could actually even take a few days off in between projects. I’d already checked availability with the Commercial Director Henrique Santos and was looking for flights when my daughter called me and said she’s exhausted and needs a break. I suggested she come with me to Morgado Lusitano and she accepted without hesitation. Perfect! Mommy-daughter quality time with horses!
We arrived on a morning flight. Had just time to change clothes and hee-o-hop off to our first lesson. We arrive at the arena where grooms had already brought two beautiful horses for us. As we get closer to them my daughter whispers to me: “Mommy, they have dressage saddles. I’ve never sat in a dressage saddle”. My response: “Right, did I forget to tell you this is a dressage riding place?”. Then I notice and this I state out loud so that the instructor is also informed: “They have a curb in their mouth. We’ve never ridden with a curb.” I had actually not stopped to really think where I was going. I hadn’t thought that a) we’ll be riding stallions and b) they use a curb.
The first lesson was a fantastic experience even if I was so afraid to disturb the stallion and have him buck me into orbit, I rode so badly, I was ashamed. I got to taste piaffe, passage and Spanish walk, so I was on top of my world. I got so much to take home with me and to think about from all the lessons we rode during our one week stay.
Everything else was just perfect during our visit too. We spent time in between lessons by the pool reading books and talking about life. There is no restaurant, the meals are served like a family gathering – healthy, tasty Portuguese home cooking. It was fun to meet the other guests from all around the world over a meal and talk horses – what else. The personnel – office, kitchen, stable, trainers – are all super nice. I don’t know how they train their brain to always remember your name and something about you that makes you feel so welcome and at home. And the entire estate carries so much history, it feels a privilege to be able to spend time there.
Isn’t it funny that for seven years I didn’t find time to go visit Morgado Lusitano, but the experience was so powerful that I have made time into my calendar to visit three times per year since then? I’ve visited together with a friend, I took my trainer from Finland there, my trainer got her trainees to come, so last month we were a group of nine ladies, but I’ve also gone all alone to offer myself some empowering me-time.
Finns will understand what I mean when I say that the feeling I have when the taxi turns onto the side road that leads to the Morgado Lusitano gates is the same feeling Finns have when, after a tough week at work, they arrive at their summer house. Soul repairing!