Day 1 Sunday 24 November
I had an early morning flight departing East Midlands Airport at 7am and was due to arrive at 10:50 into Malaga but we managed to get away on time and landed 23 minutes early.
Andrew was picking three of us up from Malaga airport and our flights all landed half an hour early, so we were able to get away in good time. We drove on to Gibraltar to collect an additional two guests before then heading to Los Alamos for a late lunch.
Upon arrival we met Rhiannon who showed us through to the lounge area where we would also be dining. We were shown to our rooms and had chance to freshen up before sitting down to our late lunch. The table was laid out with an array of food: salad, a selection of cheeses and hams, potato onion tortilla, bread and crisps.
After lunch Rachel, the horse manager, came to pick us up and take us to be introduced to the horses. There are 24 in total. She talked us through the various horses they had and asked us what we would prefer and what riding we had done recently. We were each told about the horses that had been picked out for us based on our preferences and they were also pointed out to us in their paddocks. She made it clear to everyone that if we ever had an issue or concerns about anything to let her or José know.
We then had the choice of either being driven back to Los Alamos or to walk through the village. We all chose to walk as it takes less than 10 minutes and would be nice to stretch our legs and see the village.
Once back at Los Alamos we had some time to relax before dinner. For each evening meal there are three courses cooked by Rhiannon. We had a starter of pumpkin soup, main of chicken breast and chorizo with potato and leek bake and carrots, followed by dessert of apple tart and cream.
There was much discussion through and after dinner about the history of Spain and Gibraltar and history of the local area, which Andrew and Rhiannon have extensive knowledge of. It was fascinating to hear about Gibraltar and the battle of Trafalgar in particular.
Day 2 Monday 25 November
For breakfast we each helped ourselves to the selection of fruit, yoghurt, cereal, cheeses, ham, toast, jams and other spreads, or bacon and eggs. So literally something for everyone!
At half past 9 we all walked down to the horse paddocks as we would be riding at 10am.
Our horses for the days ride were already tacked up when we got there. José, Rachel and Rhiannon would be guiding; José in lead, Rachel in the middle and Rhiannon at the back.
Today’s ride would take us through the national forest following many different sandy tracks. The ride was interspersed with canters and we also had a gallop down one of the firebreaks.
After about 2 hours riding we stopped at a look out spot for a break and a drink. The lookout faced towards the sea, sandy beaches and Trafalgar lighthouse. This was perfect photo opportunity for us all!
Lunch was at a local Taverna in the middle of the forest. We had tortillas and salad followed by a few of us having a “wobbly hot chocolate” which consists of hot chocolate mixed with baileys. Yum!
The ride back to Los Alamos was about an hour’s ride so we still had chance for some cantering along the sandy tracks.
Once back at Los Alamos we each got stuck in, to helping brush the saddle marks off our horses and rug them up to be turned out.
We each also had the privilege of riding Seducto around the arena all under Antonio’s instruction.
Upon returning to Los Alamos we had our evening’s meal of a starter of goat’s cheese salad, a main of chorizo sausage on a bed of mash and lentils followed by dessert of crème caramel.
After dinner we all relaxed in front of the fire before retiring to bed.
Day 3 Tuesday 26 November
Next morning we all met for breakfast before walking down to the stables. We would once again be riding the horses we had ridden the previous day as we would be heading to the beach. Rachel would be lead guide with Rhiannon as backup.
We headed off into the national forest taking a different path to the previous day. We had various trots and short canters with Rachel. Vinnie (Rachel’s husband and Los Alamos photographer) was strategically placed in the forest to take our photo as we galloped past him on route to the beach.
We followed various tracks, taking many twists and turns down to Trafalgar beach and the Bay of Lost Souls. The tide was not very far out but there was plenty of room to canter along on the compacted sand. Soroya is afraid of waves so we stayed further in from the oncoming sea. The going was good and everyone was able to keep pace. Vinnie had cycled down to the beach in order to take some more shots of us cantering along through the waves, or on the sand in my case.
When we were all ready, we mounted back up to head back down the beach. As the sand had been good and compact enough we were able to have a gallop this time. Rachel reordered us so those faster would be up at the front. Vinnie was once again ready and waiting to get it all on camera for us.
After our gallop we meandered our way through the sand dunes to the local bar for lunch.
For lunch we had sandwiches and tapas. There was a choice of sandwiches from cheese, tuna, or chicken or you could also have a salad. For the tapas there was crusty bread, bread sticks, and a selection of meats and cheeses. Andrew also drove out and joined us for lunch.
Once lunch was finished we remounted and headed back through the national forest towards the stables. It was about a 40 minute ride after lunch with trot and some canter.
As today was warmer than yesterday we washed our horses down to cool them off.
The rest of the afternoon was to our leisure. Some of the group had booked in to have massages, whilst the rest of us sat and chatted/read near the pool in the afternoon sun.
Our dinner this evening was a starter of salmon mousse, followed by a main of lasagne with salad and garlic bread and a dessert of peach upside cake with either cream or custard.
Day 4 Wednesday 27 November
After breakfast, we all met up at the horses. Today some of us would be changing mounts. I would be riding Tanno, a pure Lusitano grey gelding, who was often used as a lead guide horse. I was warned that upon taking a transition into canter he was prone to leaping forwards.
Today’s ride would take us on a different route through the forest at a relaxed pace. José led with Rhiannon as backup guide. Juan, a local neighbour also joined us.
Once our horses were warmed up we had our first canter. Tanno leapt straight into canter from practically a standstill, using his hind legs to spring from. He was great fun to ride and you can feel him winding himself up like a coiled spring before the launch into each canter!
Today we had another chance of a gallop down a firebreak and this time were given the ok to overtake one another as long as we stayed behind José. It was an exhilarating gallop with Tanno making sure we kept up with José and one other guest who were in the lead.
After lunch it was not far back to home but there was still chance to have a fast canter which went “a little bit up and a little bit down” through the forest. Tanno knows the tracks and which way is home very well, as he showed me when I dropped the reins to remove the sand, which had been kicked up and lodged between my two shirt layers, whilst Tanno proceeded to walk in the direction back home which at least was the direction we needed to go anyway much to the amusement of everyone. He is a definite firm favourite and such fun to ride.
We all once again helped with brushing down the horses and helping to rug up.
Upon returning there was a delicious meal already waiting for us, once again all cooked by Rhiannon. A starter of croquettes (which are a Spanish lightly breaded fritter containing ham), followed by the main of roast lamb and vegetables and a dessert of lemon cheesecake
Day 5 Thursday 28 November
Today we would be visiting the city of Jerez. We left Los Alamos at 8.30am as we needed to be at the ticket office for 9.30am in order to get good seats for the show at the Royal School of Equestrian Art. Two of the guests in the group were departing back home today as they were on a short break holiday, so we said our goodbyes and swapped emails before we all left.
Andrew drove us to Jerez and ordered our tickets for the show which would be starting at midday. We all ate breakfast in a local Irish Bar but had a typical Spanish style breakfast with toasted rolls, with a choice of flavourings; tomato purée, ham, strawberry jam or peach jam.
Once we had finished our breakfast we went across the road to the local tack shop to wander round. It’s a bit like an Aladdin’s cave as there is so much there.
After shopping we walked back round to the Andalucian School to go and see the carriage museum. There were all sorts of carriages from traditional Spanish to the odd English. The museum led on through into the school’s stables which are also partly for viewing. The school only use stallions, none of which have been used for breeding. There were 6 tied up in their leatherwork waiting to be harnessed to their carriages ready for the show. It was interesting to note how quiet and calm they were even with us walking round, although we were the only four people there apart from an occasional groom wandering around.
After the tour around the museum we hurried our way to the main gates with tickets in hand so that we could go through to the arena. The show gave the audience a full glimpse of the Andalucian horse in all its finery from the high stepping walk to pirouetting on the spot. There were individual ridden demonstrations, group ridden demonstrations, and in hand demonstrations it was a really amazing sight to see these humans and horses at work together and see how highly trained they are. Following these demonstrations came the carriage driving; one single horse drawn carriage, one authentic Spanish drawn carriage pulled by two horses and an English carriage which was drawn by 4 horses. There was then a 10 minute interval where you could go outside and see some of the students at work on their Andalucians or to go and buy souvenirs in the shop.
When the show had ended we went to meet Andrew who took us for lunch in one of the local bars. We had traditional Spanish tapas with a range of choice of foods from dog fish and potatoes in a saffron sauce to prawns in a garlic butter sauce. All very delicious and really filling.
Following lunch we went to the local Sherry shop where we could sample and purchase a range of sherry’s from the fino sherry which is dry to a cream sherry which is sweet. The samples themselves were more like a drink than a shot so you could really make your mind up before purchasing.
By the time we left the sherry shop it was late afternoon and we were ready to depart back to Los Alamos.
Once back we had time to relax before dinner of a starter of tomato soup with crusty bread, followed by lamb tagine on a bed of couscous with a dessert of chocolate cake with cream.
Day 6 Friday 29 November
Today we would be heading to the beach for one last time. Today I was given the opportunity to ride Fino a nice, quiet, Spanish bay gelding who did not mind the sea splashing around his feet.
Once all mounted we headed out through the forest in the direction of the beach but a different route to the one we had taken on Tuesday. Our ride was interspersed with various canters twisting our way through the forest and also having a gallop past Vinnie for our photograph. Fino was great to ride but did not nearly have the same speed of gallop that Soroya and Tanno had, until we got to the beach that is!
As we neared the sea Fino’s pace quickened and once we could hear the sea he seemed to wake up. We had a canter down towards the sand dunes and Fino was completely different and would have preferred to be at front rather than in the middle. However, when we got to the beach the tide was in and the sand was not compact enough to canter across until we got further near to the Trafalgar lighthouse. The waves were also a little stronger than they had been on Tuesday but Fino did not mind this. The sun was shining, the sky was a clear blue all the way to the horizon and the sound of the waves was very soothing, what could be better? Riding along the beach was definitely a highlight!
We remounted after lunch and meandered our way through the forest back towards Los Alamos.
After returning from the horses there was plenty of time to relax before dinner in front of the fire with a good book.
Rachel would be hosting dinner that evening and they had a local friend who came in to cook the evening meal. We ate a starter of salad, crusty bread and hummus, followed by the main of Guinness beef stew and a dessert of apple crumble and cream.
You really do eat well at Los Alamos!!
Day 7 Friday 30 November
Today would be our last day of riding at Los Alamos. All the horses were ready and waiting when we arrived so there was only the mounting up and then we were off on our last ride through the forest. I had chosen to ride Tanno.
José would be leading the ride and Jim (one of their other guides) would be back up. Today’s ride was fairly relaxed ride with short interspersed canters. On one of the fire breaks we had a gallop, with Tanno doing his usual bounce into speed. What fun to gallop along without a care in the world!
Back to the horses and they were waiting for their tip bits of bread or breadsticks . It was a short ride back from here with one more canter fitted in.
I would be sad to say goodbye to Tanno who had been an absolute joy to ride and really suited me along with Soroya and also Fino. I’m sure I was not the only one who gave our horses a fair well pat and piece of bread before leaving. Rachel has a real knack of picking the right horses for the right people based on their riding and experience at the start of the week.
Before dinner that evening I was booked in to have a massage. It was a nice way to end such a great week.
Rhiannon and Andrew hosted our last Los Alamos meal of a starter of garlic prawns, a main of pork stew with rice and vegetables and a dessert of baked cheesecake and cream.
We also much later toasted marshmallows (not that any of us had much room for them) in front of the fire before heading to bed or to finish the last bit of packing.
Day 8 Sunday 1 December
Sadly today we would all be flying home after a great week at Los Alamos. It was an early departure at 7am to head to Malaga. We all said our goodbyes and departed to our various planes.
What a fantastic week at great place. Andrew, Rhiannon and Rachel and everyone else at Los Alamos really made us feel most welcome and it felt like you were just visiting old friends or relatives that you had not seen in a while. I had a great week and made some great friends with everyone who was also on their holidays. It is easy to see why people visit time and time again, I definitely would be willing to go back!
To book your week at Los Alamos or for further information go to http://www.inthesaddle.com/rides/view/126_losalamos_andalucia_spain