You may remember when I made the decision a few years ago to make our rides walking only. Some people were quite shocked and surprised at the time, but the overall feedback was positive, with people congratulating me on a brave decision, fearing that it would adversely impact our business. It turned out to have the opposite effect, improving our clientele and encouraging true horse lovers and like minded people, I have never once regretted my decision and I know the horses haven’t!.
The covid situation has brought about a lot more soul searching. The lack of guests has resulted in the horses barely being ridden in two years, taking into account that we are always quiet in the winter, the last time we were busy was summer 2019.
Our horses are great, they never let us down, and as they live out and are constantly moving around, they have coped with the occasional ride without complaint, but they are getting older.
With the exception of Flamenca who is thirteen, the rest of the herd range from sixteen to twenty six, with a lot of them in their early or mid twenties and many retired already. The horses’ well being is always my priority and I feel it is the time to accept that they are heading towards retirement and structure the business accordingly.
We love our riding guests, we have met so many amazing people over the years who are now friends and continue to visit us. We don’t want to stop offering riding completely but we need to make the riding more flexible and less stressful for us and the horses in their latter years.
We have lowered our upper weight limit to 82 kilos, 13 stone, for our heaviest weight carriers (and it may well go lower as the years progress) , with the limit for other horses being less.
We have also decided to stop our full board riding holidays, instead, focusing on having self catering guests, as we did very successfully in the beginning, with the option to book and pay for riding on a casual basis when you are here. This removes the stress of trying to fit in a certain amount of hours when maybe the weather is against us and gives our guests the flexibility to do other things in this beautiful area.
We will continue to offer all inclusive deals for our horse courses and we hope to be able to offer many more and varied courses in the years ahead, eventually focusing on totally non ridden, once the horses are all too old to be ridden. Prior to Covid we had hosted numerous successful and enjoyable courses such as clicker training, confidence courses, equine massage and other therapies as well as our ever popular barefoot trimming courses. We have plans for next spring to run a horse agility course with the amazing Ellen Cochrane and a barefoot trimming course with Jayne Cooney (who usually co runs the course with Sarah Oliver) . Another course we are thinking of is an animal communication course with Ronnie King . We are hoping for lots more courses too, with some of our other regular professionals and please get in touch if you have something to offer or have something in particular you would like to do.
Another idea we would like to move on with is taking horses for walks – you can take an alpaca for a walk, so why not a horse? . Our horses love to go out for a forage in the hedgerows and it is a calming and mutually enjoyable experience, you could even bring a picnic for the horse to carry for you!
For those already booked in for our full board holidays, postponed from last year, don’t worry, we will honour those bookings and we may also be tempted to provide the occasional spontaneous paella night or other favourite meal for a special occasion (particularly for our faithful regulars who love our cooking) but this will be at our discretion, and after all, our apartments have full kitchen facilities and gas barbeques and there are numerous restaurants close by so fending for yourself really shouldn’t be a problem. (For our regular women visitors who don’t want to hire a car and want us to feed them – I am sure that we can come to some arrangement, we certainly don’t want to miss seeing you !)
The pandemic has definitely kept us on our toes, but we have been determined not to let it beat us. One thing it has given us is time to reflect and think about the future. We have been existing on very little money for eighteen months now and we have survived (thanks in part to the generosity of some of our lovely followers , friends and family – we cannot say enough how much we appreciate your support) . We have always been good at living frugally, since moving to Spain twenty one years ago, but we have now realised that we can cut our overheads to the bare minimum and this has given us the push we needed to take this next step for the sake of our much loved herd (and Clive and I are not getting any younger either ! )
We hope to see you soon!
P.S. – Our website Url will soon be changing back to Cortijoloslobos.com to avoid any confusion!