JUST a 20 minute drive from Ronda in a quiet crease of a valley outside the hamlet of Los Prados is the sort of place that horses and their riders dream about.
The heavy gate of La Cuadra seamlessly slides open to reveal immaculate lawns, shady paddocks and a flawless outdoor schooling ring that uses state of the art technology to ensure the best conditions year round.
Dominating the plot is a modern building that wouldn’t look out of place on the pages of a design magazine with its high ceilings, smooth white walls and huge glass windows.
This is home to the stable block, tack room and a delightfully stylish chill out area for riders and spectators that is a far cry from the dusty boot filled dinginess of a typical equestrian centre.
This paradise is the creation of Dilia Meijboom, who admits she ‘accidentally’ stumbled into ownership of the venture as a way of realising her own desires for a local livery stable to practice her passion for dressage.
“It’s a dream come true for me. To create a place where we can share our passion for horses with likeminded people, to learn from each other while we train, enjoy and inspire each other,” she said.
Over four years she has lovingly created a place where the wellbeing of each horse is prioritised above all.
“We aim to give the animals a way to live as naturally as possible. They are very social animals that need to form friendships and alliances and so we have created a small herd and the other horses spend time safely in individual neighbouring paddocks so they can all have contact with each other,” explains Dilia.
Traditionally, dressage horses spend much of their time stabled, but at La Cuadra careful paddocking means they can be turned out when the weather is fine. And when it isn’t, each stable in the airy pristine block has huge windows through which to watch the world go by.
“Even when stabled, the horses have maximum stimulation,” says stable manager Elske van Reeuwijk, who is an expert in horse wellbeing and the in-house trainer.
Many of the horses are unshod. “Not because shoes are bad per se but because if they can do without them, then it is better for them,” explains Elske.
They even have a few retired steeds, who can enjoy a special ‘seniors’ programme’ where they are walked out several times a week, have frequent face to face human contact, including grooming and massages.
“There is nothing worse for a horse that has been very well cared for and exercised all its life just to be turned out in a field and ignored,” admits Elske. “Here we make a place for them to have a great retirement.”
But what makes La Cuadra extra special, apart from the equine shower block and personalised nutrition programme for each horse, is the dedication to the art of dressage.
The floodlit main dressage arena boasts geotextile footing, which promises optimum balance and stability for the horse and an all-weather draining system.
Plus there is a lunge circle and a second fenced arena.
La Cuadra also arranges training sessions in the form of private dressage lessons, communication training with horses doing groundwork and short-term clinics where riders can work with leading Grand Prix Dressage trainers from across Spain and beyond.
Services offered include bespoke full-time livery, from 24-7 in the paddock to night-time stabling, as well as short term stays for intense training programmes.
What’s more La Cuadra can also provide part of your horse’s training programme.
The location just an hour’s drive into the hills from the Costa del Sol provides wonderful hacking along ancient herding paths and through leafy valleys in the Serrania de Ronda and just on the doorstep is the owner’s own private 60 hectare finca with its stunning virgin woodland where you can ride to your heart’s content.
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