Horse riding in Portugal: Albufeira Riding Centre at Vale Navio in the Algarve

Review: Albufeira Riding Centre

Many people will be going on holiday to the Algarve in Portugal which is really popular with tourists. For those keen on horse riding while they're on holiday, it's well worth taking your boots because there are plenty of great places to go for tracks, hacks and rides out.

The moment that my bus parked outside the hotel in Albufeira there were signs at an excursion shop advertising horse riding at the Albufeira Riding Centre.

There was a poster for one other riding school in the day-trip shop but I booked with Albufeira Riding Centre - also known as Vale Navio stables. They had a phone number that the hotel's receptionist could ring and book for me which made things much easier. The owner of the riding school is English, too, which helps with communication and a general feeling of safety and well-being.

In general, this is a great riding centre for holiday and local residents. It's well worth visiting to go for a hack through the Portuguese countryside or take a longer ride along the beach.

Price

The prices for hacks - or trail ride as they're known in Western Riding - were 30 Euros for an hour, 50 Euros for two hours or 70 Euros for a three hour long beach ride. I picked the two hour ride and although I thought that seemed expensive ( horses cost a lot more to keep in Portugal because it doesn't rain much there which means there's very little grass for the horses to graze on) I was definitely not disappointed. The ride was fun and we saw a lot of the countryside. The yard owner, Georgie, was also the escort on the hack and she talked about the wild area's wildlife, history and also advised me with my riding.

Contact details

Albufeira Riding Centre

Tel.: +351 289 542870

Vale Navio, Albufeira,

Algarve, Portugal

Location

The riding centre is close to the centre of Albufeira and an area known as 'The Strip' which is popular with tourists. This means that the stables are easy to reach but thankfully they're also far enough from the town centre to be secluded and set in stunning Portuguese countryside.

I drove through a couple of quaint Portuguese villages before reaching Vale Navio and the turn off for the stables. The riding school is nestled behind a former time-share resort which went bankrupt. There are currently dozens of derelict apartments with empty swimming pools and run-down sports facilities which makes it an eerie scene. I'm sure that it won't be long before the area is redeveloped.

We only rode through around the outskirts of the derelict resort for a couple of minutes before reaching the countryside so it wasn't at all a problem. In fact, I liked it and it's probably safer because there are fewer people and cars now that the resort is gone. In fact, I would have had a good snoop through some of the derelict buildings if I'd had more time.

Stables and yard

The owner of the stables is called Georgie and she moved to Portugal 16 years ago after becoming tired of the rat race in England. She took on the yard within three weeks of arriving and has turned it into one of the best riding schools in the Algarve. Georgie used to compete at eventing in England and Portugal and she really knows her horses. She's a British Horse Society qualified instructor so she knows all the textbook rules of riding. But she's also really knowledgeable of Natural Horsemanship and applies this to the way she keeps her horses. For example, she made me mount my ride, Joe, on a mounting block to help keep his back in good condition. One of the best things about her style of teaching and horses in general is that she explains everything in plain English (or Portuguese if the person speaks thet language). No complicated jargon or fancy horsey terms. Just simple, common sense advice.

The stables are set in around five acres of land and, compared with other yards, they're quite small. There are around a dozen paddocks where the horses are turned out and a yard with the usual things like stables, a tack room and reception. There's also a good sized menage which is used for lessons, which I'm told are very effective.

Horses and ponies

All of the horses are very well schooled and it's said that they're the fittest in the Algarve - which I definitely beleive. They're excercised every day and they are all full of energy and look muscular. There are around 16 horses and ponies at the stables ranging from tiny Shetlands to larger and heavier horses. They're excercised every day and they all have tons of personality.

Georgie introduced me to my ride, Joe, a 16hh2 Dutch warmblood horse and said that he was as lazy as the rider - so I made sure to give him plenty of leg when I mounted and started the walk down the drive. He was very calm and to this day nobody has fallen off him. In fact, when I was riding him it was the first time that he's ever bucked. But that's because I whipped him up with plenty of energy throughout the ride.

Riding

We walked for a couple of miles and Georgie and me chatted about Portugal, riding, horses, our jobs and lives. Having a friendly hack escort was really pleasant ands especially important for people who are on holiday and want to have a fun, relaxing time. Georgie talked about the history of the area and pointed out cork trees which have their bark harvested every seven years to make the cork in wine bottles. There were also banana, fig, almond, orange and the trees where carrot seeds come from on the hack. It was really lovely to see this natural part of the Portuguese countryside away from the tourism districts. Some people even go on the horse rides there once a year there just to see the ''real'' Algarve.

There were plenty of chances to trot and Gergie showed me how to get Joe, the horse, on the bit. I really liked this because it felt a bit like a lesson. She's passionate about riding and will help anybody. She also showed me how to ride with still hands and turn by opening and closing my fingers - all really helpful.

There wasn't much cantering on the two hour ride but I didn't mind. It was so relaxing and enjoyable to see the countryside that I just made the most of taking the scenic route and being on the horse. There's a bit more cantering on the one hour ride and lots of galloping and/or cantering on the three hour ride along the beach so if that's what you want then go for those.

If you're going on holiday to the Algarve then I would definitely reccomend riding here. The yard owner is really freindly and helpful and the horses are some of the best in the region. Make a day of it and go for the beach gallop - which includes a stop for breakfast - and have a look around Albufeira. It's well worth it.

 There wasn't much cantering on the two hour ride but I didn't mind. It was so relaxing and enjoyable to see the countryside that I just made the most of taking the scenic route and being on the horse. There's a bit more cantering on the one hour ride and lots of galloping and/or cantering on the three hour ride along the beach so if that's what you want then go for those.

 If you're going on holiday to the Algarve then I would definitely recommend riding here. The yard owner is really friendly and helpful and the horses are some of the best in the region. Make a day of it and go for the beach gallop - which includes a stop for breakfast - and have a look around Albufeira. It's well worth it.

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Comments 31 comments

Rickrideshorses profile image

Rickrideshorses 6 years ago from England Author

Not a problem, any time!


Jo 6 years ago

I too have been to Vale Navio stables, and am very sorry to say that I did not enjoy my experience with my family there.

I do not appreciate swearing, and the horses did not look in good condition.


vicky 6 years ago

i have 2 horses their and i have been there for 3 years and the horses are in beter shape than any other horses in portugal and sooooooo what if they swear its part of life .


girl 6 years ago

vickey (the girl who rought up) is right i have started to have lssons there & its gr8 the horses ARE IN GR8 SHAPE!

Georgie is the best , & about the swearig its life people !!

JUST ENJOY IT !!


Rickrideshorses profile image

Rickrideshorses 6 years ago from England Author

vivky and girl, it's great that you've enjoyed the stables. You're lucky to be having lessons there. Georgie's methods might not be to everybody's liking but she certainly knows her stuff. The horse's were in good condition when I visited.


vicky 6 years ago

thanxs for agreaning with us i am leaving portugal and i am keeping my horses their to be looked after and will be back next summer to ride them


Rickrideshorses profile image

Rickrideshorses 6 years ago from England Author

It's a good place to keep your horses. Makes it easier because Georgie speaks English and she understands what it's like to have to travel. How many horses do you have their, Vicky?


vicky 6 years ago

i have got 2 horses there !


Ryan 6 years ago

Do not go here. I drove down to check out the stables and booked an experienced ride I then made a follow up call the next day to make sure we would be cantering and galloping which was confirmed. When we arrived they promptly took our money and shipped us off on a ride with 3 people that had never been on a horse before after riding the full two hours at a walk along concrete roads we entered a field where we were allowed to trot. One of the members horse set of at a trot and bucked until its rider came off. When we got back we asked for a partial refund and were verbally attacked by the female owner who lept out of her seat and into our faces in the most intimidating manner eventually we had to call the police and take her to a small claims court to get our money back!!


Rickrideshorses profile image

Rickrideshorses 6 years ago from England Author

Vicky, message me. Would be great to see your horses and hear about your expereinces about riding abroad.

Ryan, thanks for posting. It's clear that people have given mixed views about the centre. It's only fair that the other side is shown. This is an impartial review of the stables with no vested interest so I'll put your comments - and those of others who've had a bad experience - into the page.

Rick


vicky 6 years ago

Hi i couldn't get the pictures to copy and paste so i will just tell u about them . One of my horses is called snoopy he is 15 hands and 2 inches ,he is a bay he is a gelding , resantly i had a bad fall from him and i couldn't walk for 3 or 4 days ,and my other horse is called ruby she is a shetland pony she is a palmino i got her for my 8th xmas and i still have her now ,she is a mare she is gonna be 8 next year she has already had a foal but sadly we didn't get the foal so the day i got her she was seprated from her foal and the owner who bought the foal lives next door to us and she has her foal in a field next door to her from vicky


Georgie 6 years ago

The people who complained about my yard. They had two canters and three trots, the lady let her horse knock her of by a tree in canter, he did also buck her as the two riders did not do as we asked. They were told to keep in their order and the mare the boy rode he just let her go, and this horse has won prises in dressage, she my best to ride and I can do one handed. Reason I shouted was they were telling me how to run my yars, if we had run fast for two hours both the horses and riders would have been unwell. Having worked for a vet for 5 years and only two weeks ago re did my Red Cross. They also lie as the police did not come as they said there was no problem, but I will print what they said to take to court, but there again they told me they used to telling lies as used to sell time share !!


Georgie 6 years ago

As they know it is a lot hotter here than the uk. I would never make my horses go flat out in this heat. Not even race horses are expected to go flat out for two hours. When we are allowed to do the beach ride out of the summer season, we leave at 8 am so even then its not that hot. But experience people also would not expect horses to go flat out when weather is at 35 degrees


Rickrideshorses profile image

Rickrideshorses 6 years ago from England Author

Georgie, thanks for posting. Your yard is without a doubt the best place for tourists and probably locals in Albufeira.


vicky  6 years ago

georgie your right the horses and the people would have been really ill but if they were experinced riders they would have non not to canter and gallope for 2 hours that is just dangours cos in the 2 hour ride we have some rode and we go down hill at the start


Rickrideshorses profile image

Rickrideshorses 6 years ago from England Author

Georgie said to me that experienced riders don't always feel the need to canter and gallop. In my experience it tends to be people who are either new to riding or don't ride often that want to gallop off at full speed. There can be just as much enjoyment and skill in a steady walk or trot.


girl 6 years ago

rickrideshorse is right u can still have fun walking or trotting!!

georgie knows what's right for her costumers and georgie wouldent but her coustumers in denger !!


Jo 6 years ago

I'm sorry, but swearing in front of clients when you are running a business is unacceptable, especially in front of young children!

Although it may be life, I would not expect this language in a shop, and it's no different in a riding stables. Just bear this in mind when you are dealing with future clients.


Rickrideshorses profile image

Rickrideshorses 6 years ago from England Author

goldengirl, comments that are honest expression of your opinion of the riding school will be allowed here. Posts that contain abuse and defamation of individuals' characters will NOT. Please post in a constructive way without name-calling or untruths. Also, changing the name you post as does NOT work as your computer's ip address is recognised. If you want to discuss this further then you're welcome to send me a message.


Paige15 5 years ago

Hi everyone i recently visited the algarve back in the summer. I decided to take a trip down to the tourist centre and straight away they recommended georgies stables. It was an amazing ride and the people there are very caring, and it was a great experience. For all you people that are saying the horses arnt in great condition then your oviosly not experianced. They were in great condition thank you very much and i will look forward to having another great day out with the horses when i return next year.


vicky 5 years ago

Hii again hopefully people will relise that vale navio riding center and also people that are going agenst vale navio riding center shouldn't even be on this site so why are you


Jo 5 years ago

It seems to me that the people who are writing the above comments are actually the same person, due to all the bad spellings. At the end of the day, there must be both sides to every story. I have been back to the Algarve and visited a number of different stables. I would recommend everyone to do so as there are good and bad ones, and in my experience, Vale Navio is not the best out of the bunch. I would say that it is down to personal taste!


Rickrideshorses profile image

Rickrideshorses 5 years ago from England Author

Yes it does seem that one dissatisfied customer is making repeated posts. Some of them have been removed. Let them not detract from the general experience of the majority of people who visited Vale Navio who enjoyed their time there.


vicky 5 years ago

umm sorry jo but me and the girl are not the same pearson cozz girl is in fact portugesse and why are u on this site if u hate vale navio riding center?? tell me that


Jo 5 years ago

Ok that is fine, but you must admit it looks strange to people who are reading the comments. I am glad you know who the girl is, you must know each other personally. The comments on here are for everyone to read, whether they agree or disagree with them. It is good to keep up to date with the things that are written, as a very good friend told me that The Stables will not be there for much longer, due to planning permission. I do hope this is not true, as I would hate to see the horses homeless.


vicky  5 years ago

jo i am not trying to be mean but that's not true who did u hear that from ???? and yes girl and me have been friends 10 years and when i found that site she was hear with me and thought that it was good that someone made a site about vale navio riding center


debbie allen 5 years ago

i must say my husband my friend and i had a brill time on sam gouldie and narnia well looked after and abby the instrutor was the best and georgie the owner was good as well all horses were in good condition and loved it was the highlight of the holiday that's why we done it twice


Danielle 5 years ago

I went on a 2 hour hack last week and I was on Narnia just want to say thank you to Abby. I really enjoyed it.


Patricia 4 years ago

I visited the stables in Summer 2010 with friends and family, I've only noticed this website now. When I booked I told them that we were generally inexperienced and we just wanted to have a go. From the beginning two of the horses were unsettled, I was told it was my being nervous which I wasn't. Long story short, my horse took off at a gallop with me holding on tight and eventually I was thrown off the horse and injured. I had to get a ride back on another horse as there was no other way back. I was not treated very well on our return. I would really not recommend this stables to anyone.


Paul and Sal 4 years ago

Went on a ride with Georgie last week, on Sam and Narnia, horses were great, healthy, well behaved and well treated. Georgie knows how to look after horses and have no problems recommending them to anyone


Claire 4 years ago

Hello,

I am quite an experienced rider and would like to ride somewhere while in Portugal next week. I will be there with my partner who is significantly less knowledgeable, really only starting to canter. Is there a way to accommodate different levels? Since I realize I may not be getting to full out gallop, yes, experienced riders do like to, in reference to a previous comment, I am wondering if the scenery is nice and may be enjoyed at a walk. Do you come to any scenic views? Would rides on the beach maybe be a possibility at this stable or another? Someone who has been please let me know!

Thanks.

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