From the age of 7, I was a keen horse rider in the UK and had my first pony at the age of 13. I progressed onto horses in my late teens and from then onwards have always had my own horse. As a competitive show jumper and dressage rider, I was looking forward to the move to Spain especially as the Spanish horses are so famous for their nobility and ability. My old horse “Ranger” died the year before we made the move to Spain, so I decided to wait before buying another.
It was a bit of a shock to learn that this particular area of Murcia is not a horsey area and there are no livery stables nearby.
I soon learned that whilst there are many horses around, they are rarely seen, as many are kept in sheds in private locations, and the nearest livery stables is in Los Pinos, some 30 kilometres away from Camposol where I currently live.
I therefore decided the only option would be to buy myself another horse as quickly as possible. After all the Spanish horses are wonderful creatures.
The first thing I had to do was to find a suitable location to keep a horse locally. This was not easy as I living on Camposol was somewhat restrictive and I thought my immediate neighbours might object to a horse tramping around the terrace.
I went in search of possible options, and met a lovely German family only 2 kilometres from Camposol who have land and horses of their own, and I soon became friendly with them and reached an agreement that if I found a suitable horse it could live with them. This was a perfect arrangement as the riding country just behind Camposol is superb.
After several months of searching, (every horse for sale was a stallion!) we discovered Soraya, a beautiful little Spanish mare of around 12 years old, who was living in a stables in Lorca, abandoned by her owners who had not paid her livery bill for the best part of a year. I reached an agreement with the owners and lawyers of the stables and paid off the bill and took her away. Soraya came to live with us just over a year ago. She was a very nervous horse, only used in fiesta activities usually the Semana Santa Fiesta once a year.
It is a strange experience to ride a horse that knew how to do a Spanish Walk and Piaffe, but could not walk or trot a basic circle! You should see her now…
The other biggest shock for me was the feeding. In the UK our horses eat grass all year round supplemented with hay (dried grass) when necessary and a little hard food (oats, bran, sugar beet etc). Well there is no grass, so there is no hay……….
The Alfalfa here is excellent quality as is the barley straw provided that there has been enough rain in the Spring to get a good crop. This can be mixed and is a good feed supply. The local Piensos (fodder merchants) also sell, oats, sugar beet, bran and maize, so it is possible to get quality feed, but all food has to be given, there is no natural grazing except perhaps for a few weeks a year in the Spring and Autumn just after the rains.
We are keen to meet more horsey people in the area, we know you are out there as I cannot cross the commercial centre wearing jodhpurs and chaps without being stopped and asked ” where do you ride”?! Please send your letters of introduction or questions to the Editor marked “Horse Section” or if you have horses or know of more establishments in this area, then please let us know.
Establishments in this area:
Hipico Ventisca, Los Pinos
A few kilometres from Cartagena, this stables caters for lessons on Spanish horses. The countryside around there is not good for hacking but they do have a livery services available.
Yeguada Mariano Camposol
Breeder of PRE Spanish horses. Lovely quality animals if you want to buy a foal but offers no riding facilities.