Courses in Natural Horsemanship

Learn a whole new way to be with horses, both on the ground and in the saddle, building a relationship based on harmony and trust.

Our Courses

Establish a connection both in the saddle and on the ground in our week-long courses. We are happy to teach total beginners but also welcome experienced riders, who are looking for a new way to be with horses.

Course structure

The schedule for each week is adapted to the needs of our participants at the time, but the basic elements are always the same: natural horsemanship groundwork, lessons and rides into nature at a walk.

Accomodation

Guests stay in our typical Alentejo ranch house in the midst of our valley, where the river Mira flows through twenty hectares of pasture. Enjoy evenings out on our terrace in groups of max five guests.

Our philosophy

Our philosophy is based on the idea that riding should be enjoyable for both human and horse. We strive for horse-friendly riding by using the principles of Natural Horsemanship, with a special emphasis on Freedom Based Training® inspired by Elsa Sinclair. When horses are free to decide if they want to be with us or not, we really have to try hard to fulfill the need for connection in us and the horse.

Dates & Prices

Temperatures in Portugal are most comfortable in spring and fall. Therefore, we offer courses from April until June and again in September and October each year.

Our Team

A small and dedicated team supports Sandra in her mission to help her guests enjoy their stay and maximize their learning with the horses.

Our Horses

Our herd of riding horses includes a few quarters, a few Portuguese and the odd warmblood, but all of them are excellent teachers.

What our clients say

197

Riders

25

Hectares of pasture

33

Horses

Are you ready to learn with us?

Join us for a week-long course of horsemanship, including lessons on the ground and in the saddle as well as trail rides in the unspoiled nature of South-West Portugal.

Contact us:

Sandra Dias da Cunha

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Winter break at Sundance Ranch. We hope when spring comes, this year you can come visit! ... See MoreSee Less

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🇬🇧 🇺🇸 Merry Christmas from all of us here at Sundance Ranch!

It's been an exciting year with lots of new developments for us. Somehow, Covid has enriched our environment instead of limiting it. I am so very, very grateful for how privileged we are to live freely in the fresh air and be able to go about what we most love doing: being with our horses.

I feel that I have invested my time wisely this year, forging close relationships to my wonderful team of humans and horses. This year will always stand out to me as a year of additions. Thanks to the spring lockdown, Lysette Marie decided to stay at the ranch and her extended stay has become permanent, which is great news for all of us, because she's not only an amazing horse trainer, but also the world's biggest dog lover and great company for us at the ranch.

This year we have only had about half the course guests compared to recent years, but that's ok. Courses were great and we filled the rest of our time with training our horses and a number of client horses. That has become a whole new part of our business and I'm enjoying it greatly because it feels as if I am able to make more of a difference to the horses of Portugal.

Another present I receveived this year was an amazing two weeks with Elsa Sinclair, my very favorite teacher and horse trainer, who had to cancel her Europe tour due to Covid travel restrictions and used the free time to come for an extended visit. What a great time we had!

For Christmas this year, I got the amazing luck to find new homes for two mares that needed rehoming. Both Izzy and Havana are now owned by teenage girls here in Portugal! I couldn't ask for a better Christmas present than knowing that these two mares will be loved by these girls.

We are all hoping for a better 2021. For me, it's almost hard to imagine a better year than the one coming to an end, but if I can keep all the wonderful people and horses I have found this year and add more course guests to it, I will be thrilled.

I know it wasn’t such a great year for everyone, but I hope you made it through alright and looking forward to being able to greet you at the ranch in 2021. In the meantime, have a beautiful holiday season and a happy new year!

🇩🇪 🇦🇹 🇨🇭 Frohe Weihnachten von uns allen hier auf der Sundance Ranch!

Es war ein aufregendes Jahr mit vielen neuen Entwicklungen für uns. Irgendwie hat Covid unsere Umgebung bereichert, anstatt sie einzuschränken. Ich bin so sehr, sehr dankbar dafür, wie privilegiert wir sind, frei an der frischen Luft zu leben und dem nachgehen zu können, was wir am liebsten tun: mit unseren Pferden zusammen sein.

Ich habe das Gefühl, dass ich meine Zeit in diesem Jahr gut investiert habe und noch engere Beziehungen zu meinem wunderbaren Team von Menschen und Pferden aufgebaut habe. Dieses Jahr wird für mich immer als ein Jahr der Ergänzungen hervorstechen. Dank des Lockdowns im Frühling hat sich Lysette entschlossen, auf der Ranch zu bleiben, und ihr verlängerter Aufenthalt ist zu einer Dauereinrichtung geworden, was eine großartige Nachricht für uns alle ist, denn sie ist nicht nur eine wunderbare Pferdetrainerin, sondern auch die größte Hundeliebhaberin der Welt und eine tolle Gesellschaft für uns auf der Ranch.

Dieses Jahr hatten wir nur etwa die Hälfte der Kursgäste im Vergleich zu den letzten Jahren, aber das ist ok. Die Kurse waren großartig und wir füllten die restliche Zeit mit dem Training unserer Pferde und einiger Privatpferde. Das ist ein neuer fester Bestandteil unseres Lebens auf der Ranch geworden. Ich genieße es sehr da ich auf dieser Art endlich mehr für die Pferde in Portugal selbst bewirken kann.

Ein weiteres Geschenk, das ich in diesem Jahr erhalten habe, waren zwei wunderbare Wochen mit Elsa Sinclair, meiner Lieblingslehrerin und Pferdetrainerin, die ihre Europatour aufgrund von Covid-Reisebeschränkungen absagen musste und die freie Zeit nutzte, um für einen längeren Besuch zu kommen. Was für eine tolle Zeit wir hatten!

Zu Weihnachten dieses Jahres hatten wir das unglaubliche Glück, ein neues Zuhause für zwei Stuten zu finden, die neue Besitzer brauchten. Sowohl Izzy als auch Havana gehören jetzt Teenagern hier in Portugal! Ich könnte mir kein besseres Weihnachtsgeschenk wünschen, als zu wissen, dass diese beiden Stuten von diesen Mädchen geliebt werden.

Wir alle hoffen auf ein besseres 2021. Für mich ist es fast schwer, mir ein besseres Jahr als das zu Ende gehende vorzustellen, aber wenn ich all die wunderbaren Menschen und Pferde, die ich in diesem Jahr gefunden habe, behalten kann und noch weitere Kursgäste dazukommen, wird es tatsächlich noch besser werden.

Ich weiß, dass es nicht für alle ein so tolles Jahr war, aber ich hoffe, ihr habt es gut überstanden und ich freue mich darauf, euch 2021 auf der Ranch begrüßen zu dürfen. In der Zwischenzeit wünsche ich euch schöne Feiertage und einen guten Rutsch ins neue Jahr!
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Elsa Sinclair visited Sundance Ranch last month and we are so pleased that she chose to do her weekly training video using our horses as examples.

If you find this video interesting, you might want to join Elsa on the Patreon website. For as little as 3USD per month, you can watch weekly videos of her current training projects. Here is the link for her Patreon page:

www.patreon.com/tamingwild/posts

For now, enjoy this abbreviated version of the video starring some of our horses and Elsa's introduction to the video below:

"One of the questions I often get is about how we teach a horse to lower their head when we have no food rewards and no tools to pressure them into learning the cue. In this video I have three different horses to help me show the beginning steps of teaching the head down cue.

If the horse already knows and enjoys the nose to hand touch concept, then teaching the head down cue is easier. If they do not know the nose to hand touch yet (which is the case with one of the horses I demo with here) then the feel and timing must to be a little more patient as the horse figures out what is being asked and if they feel comfortable saying yes."
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