Three years have passed since my first stay in Portugal. This year I decided to return to the Lusitano country. What did I dream of while packing my bags before I left Poland? Obviously, the same as almost every tourist dreams about, especially after a wet, cold and chilly spring in Poland: the sun and the warmth, and even, let’s say it, the heat, though usually I am not too fond of it … And of course, “last but not least “, about the wonderful Lusitano horses. What I found after my arrival where thunderstorms, rains, cold, winds and fogs … As you can see, the spring here is also whimsical. Only horses really don’t disappoint me.
At the Equestrian Center of Quinta Fonte Santa near Lisbon, I have been feeling at home since I crossed the doorstep. The same ornamental plates on the walls with Iberian horses prints, the same books on the shelves, and how familiar rain weather outside the window. In spite of unfavorable conditions, the photo session moved in full swing. Two lovely models, wonderful horses and azulejos, which are for me the quintessence of Portugal, made the job a real pleasure despite the weather. There were even glimpses of the sun, perhaps encouraged by Ines’s radiant smile. When it stopped raining, we set out for a trip to a 100 km faraway stud, to see and photograph this year’s foals. My heart jumped slightly when I saw a violet flower carpet from afar. Taking pictures of horses in such a place would be a real delight. Although it turned out that horses were not allowed on this meadow, but for my luck a few mares and a foal disregarded the ban, defeated the fence and dashed in the sea of violet to the withers, allowing me to take a few shots.
Previously, I also had the pleasure of photographing two great stallions: the titled Soberano d’Atela and his son Hercules d’Atel under Miguel Marques’s saddle in traditional Portuguese costume.
At Coudelaria Antonio Veiga de Teixteria, I got enchanted by colorful pastures, sprawling cork oaks with bizarrely twisted trunks and a big pond. A real horses’ paradise. What I disliked completely, were swarms of mosquitos and cloudy, foggy aura. The second day, as if for consolation, the sun looked out, though with a reluctance, so that we could realize a scheduled session with the camperos. I wish that it would be possible to describe the smell of the Portuguese countryside in the morning – sweet, fresh, unrepeatable. My models – a father and his son who have been working on the farm for many years, delighted not only by their driving style but also by their unbelievable efficiency in working with bulls. It is a pity that this beautiful tradition slowly goes away and people are increasingly being replaced by tractors.
Another stop on the route, was at Coudelaria Filipe Marques da Graciosa, about 300 km northeast of Lisbon, run by a long-standing director of Portugues School of Equestrian Art and his wife. The weather finally began to improve. Thanks to that I could spend a lot of time in the pasture among mares and foals. It was one of the most beautiful moments of this trip, when using the enchanted light of the “golden hour” I was able to hold in the frame the beauty of the little Lusitanos.
Coudelaria Antonio de Mendonca greeted me with fabulous views, unfortunately the sun got moody again. In the morning when we were checking the locations for the session, I saw an unusual picture – a dead doe lying in the pasture and a herd of about 30 vultures all around and above her. How I wish I had my camera with me … In the afternoon there were only single bones in the animal left. The cloudy Sunday again thwarted all the plans. Maybe next time I’ll have more luck.
Herdade do Pinheiro is a 100-year-old farm lying on 500 hectares – one day is decidedly too little to visit it. In addition to horses, in the farm, they also breed cattle, cultivate rice, produce wine. It is located in a beautiful area, in the Estuario do Sado reserve. I got here just before sunset, which literally took my breath away. Unfortunately, the session at the sunset, which we planned the next day, couldn’t be realized due to low tide. It unveiled kilometers of mud – the horses were unable to walk on it even a few meters and we had to go back. The next afternoon for the afternoon session I chose a mysterious, magical place in the old pine forest. As beautiful as the beach, but definitely safer. What a pity that the time spent here passed so fast. Too fast…
On the last day before I left, I visited Angelique Hoffman, who I’ve already met on the previous visit to the peninsula, but in a different place. To our great joy, we were given permission to attend the session in two very unique places. The first one was the Jose Maria da Fonseca wine museum in Vila Nogueira de Azeitao, where we were accompanied by the crowds of tourists admiring two Lusitano stallions and their riders in traditional Portuguese costumes posing against the beautiful azulejos decorating the façade of the building. In the gardens of Palacio da Bacalhoa, we were very warmly welcomed and served with a glass of excellent, made in place Moscatel wine. Tasting this delicious liquor in a palace vineyard, accompanied by a charming landlady and my wonderful models, I came to the conclusion, one more time, that I had the most wonderful work in the world.
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