It was a magical moment walking into a seemingly ordinary white barn to behold spectacular wooden beams in a spacious equestrian installation brightened by natural soft sunlight. The atmosphere in the Portuguese stable of Classical rider Goncalo Linhas and his wife Nara Franca, an equine veterinarian, is calm, harmonious, modern and very functional simultaneously.
EQUILIFE visited Quinta do Palhão, 2 hour drive from Lisbon, on the day the Portuguese couple moved their first horses into the stables and had their first ride in their elegant indoor arena.
“In my vision, I saw happy horses and lots of green areas (I have a thing for trees). I wanted to create a space with plenty of light using organic materials like wood, stone and glass, blending modern and traditional with clean lines and plenty of airflows, ” Nara says.
“An environment where horses can shine, a centre with soul. Also, a place where people can be together and share a meal, ideas and knowledge.”
I wanted to create a space with plenty of light using organic materials like wood, stone and glass, blending modern and traditional with clean lines and plenty of airflows.
Quinta do Palhão is a classical centre for dressage, which in the future will be welcoming students to learn the classical principles of dressage.
“It has been a real journey. The property originally consisted of two large barns, formerly for pigs, a few smaller ruins and some land. The barns were in a bad state and from the outside were nothing special, so it was a complete surprise to find that even though the roof was partly falling in, there were beautiful wooden beams. I immediately had the sense of the potential for the wonderful environment we had dreamed of. The beams were the clincher we bought the property. With the happiness of our horses at the heart of the project, we embarked on building the dream”, Nara explains.
The couple worked on the property throughout the pandemic. There were plenty of ups and downs, and even convincing the builders to not pulled down the wooden beams proved a challenge! But it was worth it. Today, they have two beautiful stables with facilities for grooming, washing, a solarium, tack room, bathrooms and a kitchen. And the most important, an indoor arena with a viewing gallery.
Their future plans include paddocks, an outdoor arena, a lunging circle, rider accommodation and a staff house. Nara is also keen to organise wine and cheese tastings, clinics and Fado nights. We look forward to an invite.
Quinta do Palhão is situated in Vila Chã De Ourique, Santarem, Portugal.
Text by Teresa Burton
Photography – Lena Saugen Photography
Nara and Laura´s costumes by Silvia Teixeira Equestrienne
Goncalo´s costume – Ondina Crespo
Black Handmade bridle by Victorino Saddlery