The Doñana national park is a paradise for horses and horse lovers. As one of the most important wetlands of continental Europe, the region is well conserved and steeped in rich cultural heritage. Situated between the provinces of Huelva, Seville and Cadiz, Doñana is now a labyrinth of tracks and waterways which have shaped marshes, ponds and streams, interspersed with native pine forests, sand dunes, beaches and spectacular cliffs too. This range of habitats offers a diverse home for many rare and endangered species of birdlife. All this ends in miles of beautiful and pristine white sand beaches stretching between Matalascanas and the mouth of the Guadalquivir river.
However, above all this is a place where the horse is still king! Within the park boundary there are still over a thousand wild horses living free - the native Marismeña breed; the ancient ancestor of the horses first taken to the new world by Spanish conquistadors, as well as being one of the founding breeds of the modern Andalucian horse.
In this glorious setting Jose Manuel Jimenez has realised his dreams and is now offering some wonderful programmes at his new equestrian centre which is located on the outskirts of El Rocio. This is a town like no other and perfectly suited to horse riders and not cars! The town is close to the coast and only an hour from Seville. The roads here are sand and you will see horses and riders making the most of the sandy open roads. Everywhere here has been made easy for the horse riders including bars with raised tables to put your glass on when you are sitting on your horse enjoying your drink. There are horses everywhere!
José Manuel studied early with a dressage master. He also studied for a degree in Environmental Science which proved invaluable when he worked as a guide in the park showing visitors around this fantastic place with its diverse terrain and amazing flora and fauna. However his passion for horses and dressage took over, so he returned to training horses and riders. He instructed for many years at La Donaira but his heart remained in the Doñana park and so he returned home. Now he has his own business and dressage centre in the centre of the park Here you can ride on well-trained Spanish horses, PRE (Pura Raza Espanola), PRE crossings and Lusitanos. There are around 14 horses available to ride and these are a mixture of geldings and stallions. You will have the chance to practice movements such as shoulder-in, half pass, change of leg, pirouettes, piaffe and passage. There are suitable horses for both the very experienced rider as well as riders with less experience.