Comments from our riding guest and students.
Thank you for an excellent five days and the work you put into giving me as much schooling and information in such a short time. You have given me a sound base to work from with the help of the books, which I will be sending for. I have replied to Jose and I will keep you both informed how I get on.
Once again many many thanks
~ M. Swanborough, Great Britain
Beautiful, welcoming place. Johanna was great to learn from and her horses were sensitive and tolerant of my learning. Definitely recommend!
~ M.Ferraro, USA
Amazing place; lovely people, excellent accommodation, food and animals. Highly recommended.
~ S.Skellorn, Great Britain
Hi Johanna! I very much miss you all and I think I must come back – I really, really want to learn more! I have tried to practice not to push my heels down, and not pushing with my seat, and it works even on Swedish horses. My riding instructor is not that enthusiastic though, but I hope she will get used to it. I rode her competition dressage horse the other day. He was really happy and I was kind of euphoric because I could really feel his muscles working, and I never really experience that before. I hope everything is fine with all of you and you have time to enjoy spring! Hugs and thanks again for taking such good care of me!
~ L. Petersson, Sweden
My husband and I both very much enjoyed our stay at the Hacienda. Our first trip to Spain was definitely not our last! We had a wonderful time socializing with the very friendly staff, and affection dogs and horses. The knowledge and attentiveness of the staff was beyond compare. We had no hot water for the first couple of days we were there, but it was solved as soon as the stores were open to buy a gas tank, and were invited to shower in the main house as many times as we wanted. If we had any questions or concerns, we had no hesitation in asking the staff, who was more than happy to answer.
As for the riding aspect, I had a wonderful first impression with an immaculately clean stable, and the experience only improved from there. The horses were very well behaved, and were as much the teacher as the instructor. I have been taught by many people, in many disciplines, and the classical teaching style that the instructors at the Hacienda have taken on, is one of THE best. I discovered a lot about my riding, and that sitting and doing nothing is much harder than it seems, but well worth the response from the horse! I have taken all of the advice and lessons to heart, and am pleased with the results in my riding on my own horse back home.
Overall, my husband and I had a wonderful trip, and really wished we could have stayed in what my husband described as “paradise”. Thank you so much to all of you for making our trip as phenomenal as it was, and we will be back! Cheers,
~ H. & A. Chow, Nova Scotia - Canada
I’ve been at Hacienda Dos Olivos several times as a client and last year also as a student. Already when you arrive there you are kept by the great place with this beautiful Andalusian hacienda in the middle of the olive ground! And the people who live and work there create the perfect friendly and relaxing atmosphere to learn so much about classical dressage and Spanish horses.
Also in the yard I always found it really amazing how calm the atmosphere is and how well all the horses behave, although most of them are stallions.
Lessons are given based on a relaxed seat and fine aids and helped me very patient and with lots of pictures to understand how and why things work. And with the horses that are amazingly sensitive and fantastic trained you`ve got a second great teacher!
Another really fantastic thing is, that there are probably only few places, where you have the opportunity to learn by watching such an excellent and experienced rider as Johanna work her horses. And Johanna was always open to answer all my and everyones many questions about horses and riding!
I can recommend Hacienda Dos Olivos to everyone who has an interest in classical dressage and I’m looking forward to get there again as soon as possible!
~ N. Draheim, Germany
The past 5 months has been the most amazing months in my life. I have learned so much! I thought I came mostly to learn to ride and be around the horses. And that I learned! I really enjoyed the Centered Riding and the lessons with Johanna. I discovered a new way to use my body and to be in the present together with the horses. I learned how to handle and train stallions and I learned about classical equitation. But I learned so much more than that. Most of all I have learned a lot about my self and even though it sounds like a cliché; it is a different me that is now going home than the one who came here in April. Now, when I am home I miss Spain, the other students, Johanna and the gentle and beautiful horses that have taught me so much. I am very grateful for the opportunity to spend time at Dos Olivos Ecuestre and I will definitely come back.
~ N. Ladefoged, Denmark
Hi, I just rode Bonita for the second time after the three weeks break and I'm stunned how well she is already responding to my seat again - in walk I could basically do every sort of lateral work just using my seat bones, I could do walk-halt transitions and extend the walk a little bit, I could even do transitions between shoulder-ins and turns in the haunches and half-passes. But the most amazing thing is that I realised that I can actually feel the way she was ridden in these past weeks in her body, and comparing that and the effects it has on her to the way I ride now and the way it makes her use her body is just incredible! I never ever want to go back to that style of riding and I realise now that I can't thank you enough for that: you made me see how incredible riding can be, and I never want to miss that feeling again. So thanks a million times! :))) just had the urge to tell you that in case I haven't yet
~ E. Schweiger, Austria
My time as a working student at Dos Olivos was incredibly educational and enjoyable. Johanna and her horses are some of the best teachers of horsemanship I have ever experienced and I feel I have learned so much about myself as a rider and as a person. I would highly recommend this to anyone who wants to learn about riding and working with horses in an authentic and relaxed environment. I also had the opportunities to experience many features of Spanish culture and always felt supported and included during my time there. Thank you so much Dos Olivos Ecuestre!
~ E. Cilliers, Canada
When I applied to work as a non fee paying student at Hacienda Dos Olivos I was simply expecting hard work and obviously to learn how to care for horses. Imagine my surprise when I was informed that I would have a private or semi-private riding lesson or other horse related training activity, five days a week, sometimes more.
In mid-March I arrived to an absolutely beautiful stable yard – surrounded with olive trees and stunning stallions. I was not able to play favorites amongst the horses, as they all had such strong personality queues that resulted in simply having to love each and every horse for their own selves. Being completely unfamiliar in working with stallions I was amazed of their gentle nature and sensitiveness as well as their will to socialize and cop-oerate when working with them. I (being a shy Finnish girl) learned to stand my ground with these grand animals – however if in need of a hug, they would be right there, giving you a massive shoulder to lean on.
Living at the Hacienda Dos Olivos was easy and lovely, especially as I had a room all to myself. In addition to this, the student house was directly on the stable yard. Therefore I got to be around horses around the clock, which was a very "tranquilo" feeling. During my time here I made friends from many parts of the world, from housemates to clients, whom hopefully I will get a chance to visit one day.
My everyday lessons with Johanna Beattie Batista helped me more than I could ever have imagined. As she could read through the horse, where my tensions lay, I learned to control (or more accurately stop trying to control) different parts of my body. With Johanna’s help I gained a new awareness of how my body worked in everyday situations. And finally, I found the flow – a moment where the horse decides to dance with you, a harmony almost too perfect not to be a dream.
I was also lucky enough to experience local events, everything from mule/bull competitions to the magnificent festival of El Rocio, a night I will never forget! This particular evening was Andalucía in a nut shell: Spanish horses, doma vaquera, religion, flamenco, food and beer.
At the end of my time in Andalucía I was given the opportunity to participate in Sue Leffler’s Centered Riding Clinic, which took part at Hacienda Dos Olivos. This was a perfect intensive course where I was able to really reflect on everything I’d learnt during my stay here.
Throughout these months Johanna Beattie Batista and Lesley-Ann Passmore taught me how to ride, lunge and care for the horses. They taught me what horses eat and why, how to do stable yard duties with maximum efficiency, using minimal effort, and finally how to stay in the moment, instead of stressing about upcoming tasks and deadlines. Additionally I got to follow teeth rasping, farriers work and much more.
As Johanna and Lesley-Ann support natural horsemanship, I learned to understand that the horse actually mirrors your every move, meaning the horse is never to blame. Finally, I got to feel more advance moves, like the magnificent Spanish walk.
At Hacienda Dos Olivos there is nothing to dislike: perfect weather, nature surrounding you, Spanish stallions, wonderful people, good food, local happenings and the beautiful Spanish language. My working practice here turned out to be an irreplaceable experience and adventure – not just another job. For this I am forever grateful.
~ Janina Christides, Finland
I came to Hacienda Dos Olivos for 6 weeks from February to April as a student intern.
My time at the Hacienda has transformed me into a much more confident, able and sensitive rider. My lessons were very much tailored to me as an individual - Johanna and her team
are excellent at finding how each person learns and working out the best way forward. As a musician, I was not only 'allowed' to finally realize a desire to play my instruments whilst on a horse but actively encouraged to do so and I am certain that this is a major reason as to why I have made so much progress throughout my time here. I feel that the tuition I have received here has really put me on the right track to start a journey from 'someone who likes to ride,' to 'a rider.'
As well as riding, I have been given lessons and experience in stable management and even some veterinary science! These have been invaluable to me as someone who has wanted to own a horse but has been put off through lack of knowledge and confidence in these areas. It is taught in a very practical, hands-on way but without any pressure to make you do anything you don't feel comfortable with - although, I'd advise giving anything a go!
After all the horror stories you hear from working students at yards in the UK, I could hardly believe our average working day here was so calm and unrushed. The regular routine of mucking out and feeding is interspersed with flexible time in which we ride, have lectures, watch videos, lunge, assist clients, shower the horses (bring something waterproof!) or any number of other interesting things that might happen! Quite the opposite to the view of working students lives as being like 'slave-labour,' I have always felt that I have been treated as an equal member of the team and have never felt under too much pressure.
Living at the Hacienda is a lovely experience. The student 'casita' is a beautiful little house which overlooks the yard - I'm going to miss Bolero wickering at me over the yard telling me to hurry up getting dressed and feed him! There is a good balance between living independently but also being looked after. We cook for ourselves and have space to be calm and quiet but we also are invited for dinner in the main house and to local events every so often. We even have our washing done for us which is a luxury I am certainly going to miss when I get back on tour! There is a really good atmosphere at the Hacienda that comes from working with a small group of people who all trust and respect each other.
The best thing of course is the fabulous horses. I tried to get at least three into my suitcase! Each of them has something to teach you either ridden, on the ground or simply the way they interact with you over the yard. Their personalities are so strong and I feel like I am leaving a whole herd of friends. I hope to return soon not only to continue learning from these wonderful people and horses but also to come back to all these friends - human, canine and equine.
~ Beth Schofield, Great Britain