The following essay is written by Ashia Sanders, the current Barbier Farm working student
It’s been nearly four months since I arrived at Barbier Farms as a working student. I will stay for another two months before heading back home to Canada and I hope that those two months move slowly. I am writing this review with an immense amount of gratitude towards the Barbier family and team, who have graciously shared their home, their horses and their knowledge with me.
Ashia and school horse, Romeo, moving together in lightness
I have done two other working student positions, both at Olympic-level barns in Europe. They are what you expect in a working student position: full days of cleaning stalls, feeding, blanketing, turning in and out, hand-walking, grooming, preparing horses for riders, etc. Maybe once or twice a week you receive a lesson, if there is time after the day is finished and if a horse is available. These positions were valuable as they created international connections and prepared one for a stable hand or groom position – but your skills as a rider are secondary.
working in hand with Romeo
Barbier Farm is different. The focus here is truly on you as a rider – and the art of riding and working horses in the classical style. Every day involves riding, lunging, working in hand, watching other riders, reading, and discussion. What an honour to receive (beginning on the very first day) such respect, dedication, and commitment to my development as a rider. The horses, the farm, the team – words can’t describe how wonderful the experience is. I will be leaving Barbier Farm with a profound change in my understanding of the relationship we, as riders, share with horses and a passion to continue the study of this art for the rest of my life.
Barbier Farm has an upcoming opening for a working student. Send your resume to Debra Barbier at firstname.lastname@example.org to apply.
For more details on the program, visit our Working Student page.
All photos courtesy of Keron Psillas from previous trips to Portugal
article by Katherine Howard
Portugal has always been a traveler’s delight, offering a perfect blend of rich history, stunning landscapes, and warm hospitality. For the equestrian traveler, the National Horse Fair in Golegã stands out as a true celebration of equestrian culture and is not to be missed.
Every November, Golegã transforms into a captivating spectacle during the National Horse Fair, or Feira Nacional do Cavalo. This event, dating back over 400 years ago, is a celebration of Lusitano horses in all their glory.
Stepping onto the cobblestone streets marks your travel back in time; you will pass by riders sitting on their horses outside of the bar, elegant fur-lined capes and hats that pay homage to when fashion and class went hand-in-hand.
Horses are everywhere. I remember watching a child who could not have been more than ten years old executing flying changes to canter pirouettes over and over in the middle of the track around the arena. He looked like a bullfighter, only his stirrups hardly reached down his horses sides. Nobody paid him much attention, as antics such as these are normal.
During our time at the fair I witnessed the Portuguese School of Equestrian Art perform, a performance by the daughters and granddaughter of Luis Valenca, along with an appearance by M. Valenca himself, working equitation competitions, riders in bullfighting getup, Dany LaHaye work her horse (while we dined above the arena in true luxury), driving competitions, and so many beautiful (and maybe some slightly less beautiful but no less loved) horses.
And when you (or more likely your travelling companion who is not as equine-enthused as you) tire of watching the endless Lusitanos from backyard to ridden by Manuel Veiga himself, you can visit the artisan tradestalls, shop for beautiful handmade tack, and sample traditional Portuguese delicacies that will have you considering permanent relocation. Believe me when I say that you will be extremely well-fed on this trip.
In Europe, anyone who is anyone to be associated with Lusitanos shows their face at Golegã, and the chance to delve in with someone like Dominique who was so deeply impacted by his time there is one that you should be chomping at the bit for (forgive the horse pun, it could not be helped).
Whether you’re captivated by the equestrian world or simply seeking a unique cultural experience, Golegã promises to leave an indelible mark.
Dominique and Debra will be back this fall in Portugal, and you are invited to join in the fun!
Take a look at our Equestrian Tours page for more information – keep in mind that deposits made before August 15 will receive a discount!
Join Debra and Dominique at the end of June for what is sure to be an unforgettable experience in Jerez de la Frontera, Spain.
The highlight of the trip is a special anniversary performance featuring all four of the equestrian schools:
Royal Andalusian School of Equestrian Art
Spanish Riding School
Portuguese School of Equestrian Art
AND presenting a new fifth school, Abu Dhabi Royal Equestrian Art (ADREA), that will be performing for the first time!
When traveling with the Barbiers, you are sure to travel in style; luxury accommodations, fantastic food and wine, and will see the best the country has to offer in terms of equestrian attractions. Debra and Dominique have already put together a list of excursions that are sure to delight, from flamenco dancing and sherry cave tours to Carthusian Horse Tours and Alvaro Domecq horses and Brave Bulls in Freedom.
Join us! Trip dates are June 28 – July 6.
Email Debra Barbier at email@example.com and reserve your place!
Trip prices – includes hotel, transport once in Spain and all attractions. Travelers will be responsible for lunches, dinners, and airfare to and from Spain.
Single occupancy $US5700
Double occupancy $US4900
Generoso Interagro is my second Lusitano horse.
Reitor de Quintana was my first. Debra Barbier invited me to Brasil, and he was one of the horses in the auction. He was a gelding and therefore not what Debra was looking to purchase. I had a perfectly wonderful horse at that time, but I encouraged her to bring him home as I loved him already. I knew he was a wonderful horse; honest, talented, and so giving. Long story short, she bought him on auction night.
A few months later he was mine! He was my miracle. I taught several students on him, and he was always there for me. He was smart and intuitive, and always reminded me when I rode well…and when I did not!
After he passed, I did without a horse of my own for over a year. I so missed the wonderful disposition, the honesty, the talent of my friend. I knew I wanted another Lusitano!Liz riding Generoso at Coudelaria do Castenheiro, Brasil, 2017.
I returned to Brasil with Debra and Dominique and rode lots of wonderful horses. I thought I wanted one of the lovely babies bred by Debra. Then I saw Generoso. What a perfect name that he lives up to everyday! He is truly generous to a fault. I brought him home thinking I would work with him and sell him if he wasn’t the horse for me. Now, I can’t imagine a life without him.
I love all horses, they live in the moment. That said, the Lusitano is level-headed, trustworthy, honest, and a pure joy. The breed of Lusitano is exceptional, and the Barbiers always have the best of the best to pick from.