Exploring horse is on the move! After two years as the guests of the Woodleys, in Central Portugal, we have found a home of our own in the fabulous Alentejo region (warmer, drier). It has been six intensive months of searching, but we have finally agreed a price and are now in the contract signing phase.
Monte Nossa Senhora, our new home (love that name, full of the power of the sacred feminine) is 30 hectares (75 acres) of typical Alentejo wildness. The place is a natural horse keeper’s paradise.
The hills are covered with cork oak forests; the valleys have some lush, fertile areas, olive and fruit trees. The south facing slopes are dry and stony with many aromatic herbs, lavender, thyme, cistus and hot weather grasses. The horses will get lots of movement to keep their feet strong, and a varied diet of native grasses and shrubs. Hopefully they will love it as much as I do, although I have a slight suspicion that if you ask them they will say the lovely green field they are living in now will suit them nicely thank you!
For the humans there is nothing. No electricity, no habitable dwellings, no running water! Pioneer time. We are going to spend the first months in caravans and yurts, playing at being nomads. I want to live right beside the horses as we get them settled and re-build the herd (I only have three of the previous herd with me). It also gives us time to suss out the best location for houses, shelters and picadeiros before we commit ourselves to building.
For now we are staying with friends, and the horses are in a “proper” field eating grass, acclimatising themselves to the smaller group. That won’t last long (the small group) as I already have my eye on a 3 year old filly, who is looking for a home via ARC Horse Welfare in the Algarve. I have also spotted a lusitano mare who does all the fancy dressage stuff, yet lives outside in a herd. She’s rather classy (and expensive!), but every herd needs a wise grey mare don’t they? And then there is sweet Amal, Zena’s arab gelding, who will join us sooner or later. I have to decide whether to grow the herd before we move, or if it will be easier for everyone if we wait.
We will ride the horses to the new place, about 50 kilometres away. I hate trailering, and have been looking for an excuse to go for a good long ride. Plus I think it will help the horses to locate themselves in their new home, reducing the stress in the first few days. I’m not sure how they will take to being returned to the “wild” after their cushy few months here, but it will be interesting to watch.
I will be blogging again now, keeping you informed of the changing dynamics of the herd, how I introduce new horses, and how essential oils and herbs help to ease us through the transition. We are not sure if the herd will be ready to run any workshops this summer (but watch this space!); on the other hand, if you don’t mind sleeping in a tent and know how to wield a hammer (or shovel, or…) you could be welcome to stop by for a visit.