The National Association for Equestrian Tourism (ANTE), which is based in Golegã, successfully organised its First Congress in Equestrian Tourism on September 18th at the prestigious and impressive Belem Cultural Centre in Lisbon.
It was attended by a variety professionals from all over Portugal – owners of prestigious Lusitano stud farms, world renowned horse and rider trainers, presidents of councils, journalists, riding facility proprietors, tourism and travel agents and representatives of the Portuguese School of Equestrian Art.
The morning consisted of well structured presentations by a variety of knowledgeable and interesting speakers who were kept admirably under control by Dr. Bruno Caseirão, the moderator, in their time allowance of 15 minutes each.
The event brought together well those from the tourism and agricultural sectors and encouraged good Networking. When considering the range of business linked to the Horse, it is a valuable influence in the economy. The last word for the congress was given by Dra. Assunção Cristas, Minister for Agriculture.
After lunch participants were transported by horse drawn carriages past the Monument of the Discoveries, the Jerónimos Monastery, and on to the spacious new exhibition hall for the Royal Coaches Museum. The group were escorted round by the knowledgeable director, Dra. Silvana Bessone. This museum houses the largest selection of royal coaches in the world, including sedan chairs, and traditional saddles and is well worth a visit. The final exhibit to be seen is the open coach used on that fateful day in 1908 and shows evidence of bullet holes when the last king of Portugal, Dom Carlos and his eldest son were assassinated.
There was time to take a quick look in the original building for this museum – the Royal Manège, or riding hall, where not one area of the walls or ceiling was left un-painted with frescoes or portraits.
One cannot pass through the Monuments area of Belem without stopping for a coffee break at one of the famous cafés, started in 1832, where they produce all day long the most exquisite pastéis de nata ( or Pastéis de Belém as they are called here) that you will ever taste.
The finale of the day was a performance of the Portuguese School of Equestrian Art in their nearby newly re-furbished installations. The new facility gives the opportunity to incorporate image projection onto the long side of the arena and lighting effects to enhance the spectacle. New music and choreography gave a fresh aspect for those of us well used to seeing the performance of the Alter Real horses and riders in their traditional costumes of the 17th century. www.arteequestre.pt.
The congress was well organised and with a dynamic only possible by someone with the energies of Dr. José Veiga Maltez, the President of ANTE, and his assistants Telma Caixinha and Leonor Bento.