HORSES, CHURCH BELLS AND A GLASS OF WINE
I've now been working at La Donaira for six weeks. I'm still enjoying life in Andalucia and feel I've made the right decision to move here. I'm learning a lot – not only about horsemanship, but about the Spanish way of life and the way in which it differs from a Swedish lifestyle.
At the stables, I'm enjoying reconnecting with horses. I can’t believe I'm lucky enough to be with them every day, getting to know their different characters.
Coby Bolger, the internationally recognised horse nutrition and equine fitness training expert was here the other day. She has designed a very professional way of combining training with special diets tailored to each individual horse. We're now going through condition scoring and evaluating work plans for the horses, adjusting their diets for winter. Nutrition and feed management parameters, tables of horses in and out of work, parasite control, feed analysis, fitness measurements and natural fitness exercises for young horses . . . it's serious work, and very interesting.
October ended with a Fun Day for the entire team at La Donaira. Around 60 of us competed in group tasks: milking goats, learning and managing natural horsemanship, wine tasting etc, and then enjoying paella and dancing. For me it was a nice way to get to know my new colleagues. Another thing about working here is that you get to meet so many nice, interesting clients from around the world when they come up to the stables for dressage lessons or to go out on a hack, and that gives real value to our days.
When it comes to life in Spain, I notice small, new things every day. I wake every morning to the sound of cockerels, the village church clock and dogs barking – all nice and, for me, a kind of peaceful background music. You greet everyone you meet here; streets are narrow - just one car can pass at any time; washing is hung from windows to dry in the sun. The temperature is still nice outside, but getting chilly inside. When I manage to get the fire going, the house is nice and cosy.
We have just been to the Golega National Lusitano Fair in Portugal, the best-known and most important Lusitano event of the year. I'll let you know how it went next time!