|A riding adventure with
Knabstrup-horses in Andalucia
It was a cool morning in early February 2001 when two nortrekkers, my
daugther Marianne and myself, began their journey from Belgium to Andalucia
to spend a week in that part of Spain riding Knabstrup-horses.
We arrived at the airport of Alicante in the early afternoon where we met Iris, a third participant from Germany; at the airport Dirk, our host and guide during the week, was waiting for us to drive us the about 200 kms to the estancia located near Velez Rubio in the eastern-most part of Andalucia some 5 kms from the motorway between Alicante and Granada. Uta, Dirk's wife was waiting for us home at the estancia with coffee and delicious cakes; we spent the afternoon saying hello to the horses, including the stallion, some six mares and another six young horses. We were installed in very comfortable rooms with separate shower; the estancia is only about one year old and sits in the hilly landscape overlooking several hundreds of hectares of almond trees which were all in full blossom at this time of the year.
|Next morning after a solid "petit dejeuner" we went to fetch and saddle
the horses; we were given three mares to ride which were easy to
prepare and saddle; the tack, saddles and bridles, were of mostly
Spanish type and very comfortable for longer trail rides. We started
out around 10.30 aiming for an easy ride of 4-5 hours the first day with
a planned lunch break after some three hours. But the day soon become
somewhat complicated; we were probably less than 200 meters from
the stable when a big dog-like creature scared the horses who wanted to
return to the stable right away; the creature was probably one of
the local foxes out on a late morning patrol of his territory; it
disappeared very fast into the bush along the road and we were able to
continue through the Rambla Nogalte river bed which was completely dry,
without more trouble until our hosts proposed a canter; having signed
up for the trail ride all guests were clearly supposed to be confirmed
riders; but it turned out that Iris, our participant from Germany, was
less so; she simply fell off the horse as soon as it started the easy gallop
with the other horses, and unfortunately she was knocked unconscious for
some minutes with a concussion which was later confirmed at the local hospital
some 50 kms away; luckily she wore a protective riding hat, but that day
was both the first and last riding day for Iris during the week.
Dirk, Marianne and I were able to continue the ride while Uta brought Iris
to the hospital for observation for the rest of the day; we visited
a small village where the very friendly locals offered us their special
wine before we enjoyed our sandwiches for lunch. In the afternoon
a storm blew up, but although strong winds almost tore us from the backs
of the horses, we remained in the saddle and finally arrived safely back
at the estancia in the late afternoon.
The second day we proceeded to a road-side restaurant which served an excellent paella for lunch. We enjoyed increasingly warm and sunny weather, although we also noted snow on the 2045 m Sierra de Maria towards the north-west of our trail - no doubt the result of the previous day's storm which had only brought some drops of rain on our trail.
Next day was Saturday and we all went sightseeing or shopping in the
local village of Velez Rubio some 15 kms from the estancia. Marianne
wanted to buy picture postcards to send to all her friends in Norway and
other countries. After some walking we found a shop at the local
open-air market place which sold mainly paper and other office like equipment;
we thought we asked for postal stamps for the cards, but when the shop-keeper
came back with a kit for aquarel painting, we admitted that our Spanish
was not good enough; the shop-keeper then advised us to go to the
post office to buy stamps. Luckily we met Uta and Dirk on the way
who helped us buy the stamps in a nearby photo-shop. Afterwards we
visited the local museum; we were the only guests, but we found it most
interesting; it included both an etnographic exhibition with small scale
copies of former and maybe also present small holder farms and handicraft
|After trying the local specialities for lunch - like rabbit brain and
cured blackfish - we went back to the estancia and then on to do some more
sightseeing at the nearby beach resorts in the afternoon. We ended
up spending most time in Mojacar, a village consisting of entirely small
white houses at the edge of the Sierra Cabrera.
The longest trail rides were on the Sunday and Monday; we left the horses and Dirk to stay overnight near the village of Velez Blanco which boasts an impressive renaissance castle as its major tourist attraction. We learned that the original marble main patio was missing from the centre of the castle; a posting in the chateau referred to it being donated to the New York Metropolitan Museum or Art by a certain Mr Blumenthal, apparently after it was sold to him by the impoverished castle owners around 1900. Marianne in fact found the local cave paintings dating some 7000 years back in time much more interesting. They are found in the Cuevas de los Letreros about a kilometre outside the village in an open air cave which was declared a national monument in 1924.
Cueva de los Letreros
Lone - "my horse" during the week
Tuesday, our last full day at the estancia, was spent on a relative short trail ride around the 90 ha estancia; in the afternoon Dirk showed us his ability as horse trainer or wishperer using the Pat Parelli techniques. We concluded our week with a final excellent dinner in Spanish style as always prepared by Uta with locally produced wine. On the Wednesday Dirk drove us back to the airport at Alicante - in drizzling rain - what a contrast to the more than 20 degree sunny weather we had enjoyed the previous six days.
The trail ride was organised via
Dirk and Uta Pommeranz-Pietsch
On the trail back home