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Jody's Blog

The Spanish Sunshine!

Author: SuperUser Account/Monday, August 15, 2011/Categories: Blog

The Spanish Sunshine!

Many of you may be surprised to hear that I have always had a fascination with Iberian type horses. Who couldn't help but fall in love with a wonderful black Friesian horse, or with the famous PRE stallion Fuego who with his Spanish rider has set the dressage world into a bit of a spin!?! Earlier in the year I made the decision to try and find a Lusitano stallion to bring back to New Zealand. The breed is fairly unknown here, and what better way to show off this fantastic breed than bringing in a top class dressage stallion?!

So at the beginning of July I set off on an intrepid journey with my Spanish speaking amigo Michelle Zeilazo, flying direct to Madrid via Sydney, Bangkok and Dubai - it was a long journey. We were met in Madrid by an old friend of Michelle's, Danielle Cárdenas and her friend Carmen who handily enough are agents for Iberian horses in Spain. We spend a few days with them at Danielle's wonderful countryside home, relaxing in the sun by the pool and getting over the jetlag. It took me a good while to adjust to the Spanish way of life I must say. It seems one gets up at about 10am, the day starting with a leisurely breakfast. Lunch is not till about 3pm and is followed by a nice siesta - a sleep of an hour or more! Then the dinner is some time after 10pm, often well after midnight. It's a far cry from rising at 6am and working thru the day till dark and heading to bed at 9pm ready for work the next day! Even the kids in Spain are out playing after midnight.

Then it was off to look at stallions. I have in my mind a clear idea of the ideal Lusitano stallion for me. He is tall, calm, with great piaffe and passage, licenced for breeding and of course if at all possible, grey with a flowing mane and tail! The very first horse I saw was a wonderful stallion called Ultimato - I will never forget walking into the barn, and setting eyes on him for the first time. He was tied to a wall inches away from another stallion, and he was simply gorgeous - I was in love with the very first horse! Ultimato has one blue and one brown eye, and the ability to look right into your soul with both of them. A great piaffe, just learning passage and good flying changes from a super canter. He was lovely to ride - a horse you could put your Granny on. Both talented and friendly in the one package! We had a fantastic time with his owner / rider, and went to dinners in the medieval city of Caceres - exploring the castle and walled city at 2am after feasting on Tapas and drinking Sangria - it's still 30 degrees at midnight!!

We spent a little time sightseeing and I enjoyed learning more about the Spanish Civil War and visiting castles and other ancient sites. The food in Spain was definitely worth a mention. We feasted on Jamon - cured ham on the bone) olives and breads at every opportunity. Speciality dishes like gaspacho and paella greeted me like long lost friends - I wondered where they had been all my life!

Determined not to buy the first horse I saw, Michelle and I continued looking in Spain - we looked at many PRE (Andalusian) horses, but it was the Lusitano's that captured both our hearts and our imaginations. So we departed to Portugal - the place where the Lusitano breed originated from. And the adventure continued....

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