Contessa Riding & Training Centre

Contessa is a leading Dressage Centre in Hertfordshire, providing Advanced Dressage lessons Lusitano stallions and warmbloods as well as riding for all levels

Since the summer of 2014 Joao Cavaco has run a very successful Elite Young Riders Club on every Wednesday night, specialising in Dressage.
The club teaches Young Riders how to develop their way of riding, whilst teaching some of our Advanced School Horses and ponies to develop within their paces and movement. Joao teaches in a very unique way to get the children to progress and enjoy Dressage.
As Joao is very busy and doesn’t usually teach children it is a fantastic opportunity to learn from a professional and an Advanced Instructor. All riders need to be of a certain level, and need to be willing to listen to criticism and advice. Tariq, Toby and Millie are main horses within the group, however other horses and ponies are frequently used.

Zak
Elite Young Rider

“My name is Zak and I first sat on a horse when I was just 6 weeks old! My mum and dad own and run Contessa so I have been very lucky to be able to ride all my life. I have been training in the Elite Young Riders group for about 2 years now and have built up courage, experience and knowledge on horses. Just recently I have taken ownership of 2 stallions, a 17 year old Grand Prix standard horse called Riacho who was on the reserve team for the 2012 Olympics and a 7 year old called Merlin who was imported from Spain where he was trained to do all the high school movements. I enjoy Joao’s lesson and feel that I have learnt allot since being in his lessons and I like being part of it.”

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Zak
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Jack
Elite Young Rider
“My name is Jack and I have only been riding properly for 3 years (unlike some of the others) since then I have learned a lot very quickly . I started riding with João in the Autumn of 2013; riding Tariq and I couldn’t even canter !  After training with Joao most days I improved and by the time I got Faffa ( my own horse) I could ride canter, medium trots , changes and lateral work on Tariq- quite different to my first lesson.  I was the first member of the Elite Young riders team, soon joined by Zak and Libby, the group made me realise ‘dressage is not just you and your horse, its about your team’ . In the summer of 2014 my parents and I went to Portugal with João, to find a horse! We looked around many horses ranging from young horses to Grand Prix horses; we bought a 5 year old Stallion called Fanfarrão (FAFFA), he had been trained in Portugal all his life, so wasn’t used to English people, places and the climate (especially when he first saw snow). Over the previous year I have been taking Faffa out to BD competitions and BYRDS (British Young Riders Dressage Scheme) in which we have learn a lot and achieved a lot including county competitions. In the future I would like to take Faffa through the levels and progress with him and my riding. I also get amazing opportunities to ride Tina’s amazing horses- and have lessons with her. However, João is the main reason I am where I am today within horses; he has taught, trained, coached and guided me through my equestrian career so far.
One piece of advice I’d give to other riders-“Even when everything has gone to pot DON’T BLAME YOUR HORSE!; It is your choice to ride, not the horses choice to be ridden”.”
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Jack
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Libby
Elite Young Rider

“My name is Libby Wade. I am 14 years old. I have been riding at Contessa for around 7 years (since I was 7), my favourite pony is Solo and my favourite horse is Ted. Finally, in the future, I would love work in film, own my own horse and enter competitions like “British Young Riders”. Also, fun things to do in lessons would be: more jumping, riding outside and riding in the fields.”

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Libby
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Mia
Elite Young Rider

“My name is Mia and I am 10 years old. I have been riding for 4 years and joined Contessa one year ago. Since I started here Wanda and Joao have helped to boost my confidence as a rider and develop my riding techniques.  Once I began at Contessa I became hooked on dressage because of the beauty of the movement from the talented horses.  The highlight of my riding so far has been taking part in the shows that Contessa holds throughout the year and     adding to my rosettes! I am looking forward to growing further as a rider and part of the Junior Elite team!”

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Mia
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Vivianna
Elite Young Rider

My name is Viviana and I am a member of the young riders class. I came to Contessa because I am fascinated in Dressage and until now I have done my first Dressage test, riding Maisie. My favorite horse is Suzy as she was the horse I rode on my first lesson, and since then we have a special connection. However as I advance in my learning here at Contessa, I am looking forward to ride and get to know other horses. Aside from riding I am interested in music and I play four musical instruments.

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Vivianna
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How to become an Elite Young Rider

Joao Cavaco
ABRS TC, Chief Rider & Instructor

Professional Dressage Rider and Instructor.

Joao was born and raised in Portugal and has always had a keen interest in horses. He joined the Portuguese Cavalry in 1998 and there he realised that he wanted to become a professional Dressage Rider. He started his journey as a working student at Contessa where he stayed for two years building a firm foundation in classical dressage. He is fondly remembered as a talented, enthusiastic and dedicated student. During this time he also achieved his ABRS Teaching Certificate and the ABRS scholarship. Since then he has worked as a rider for several International top trainers including: Tina Layton, Emile Faurrie, Leslie Morse USA and Vicky Thompson. During his time with these trainers he also had the opportunity to compete their horses at Novice and Advanced level in dressage. He has been in charge of training Katie Price’s dressage horses.

Contessa is pleased to have Joao back after over a decade and he is keen to be here helping our horses, students and riders to achieve their goals. As an instructor he helps his students get the most from their horses so they can experience the “correct way of going.” He brings a vast amount of experience to his lessons helping him to work through training problems and to take riders to the next level.

Joao is available for lessons on Wednesdays, Fridays and Saturdays. You can book private lessons with him as well as intermediate/advanced groups on the weekends. He also here on Wednesday evenings and runs our Young Elite Riders Club (Wednesdays at 6pm) and our Advanced Dressage adult group (Wednesdays at 7pm). He is also happy to teach clients on their own horses in dressage or flat-work for show jumping.

Besides teaching our students and clients, Joao is also here to school our horses. He keeps our schoolmasters fine-tuned and continues the development and education of our school horses. You will be able to catch him in Contessa’s various demonstrations or if you’re lucky during the weekdays in our training sessions! He regularly goes for open training sessions with Arthur Kottas in Guildford where you are more than welcome to come and watch.

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Xairel
Lusitano

Xairel is our newest member of our Lusitano Stallion Team. Xairel has competed up to PSG in Spain and also has enjoyed hacking and hunting.

Xairel is proving popular with our staff team with his easy going nature. Xairel is a responsive and sensitive ride who shows a talent for lateral work.

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Puro
KWPN

Puro is a talented school and vaulting horse.

A KWPN by Purioso, Puro was imported from Holland at nine months old. He is a talented school horse, teaching our more experienced riders about lateral movements and the correct “way of going.” Puro is sensitive and always willing to please his riders.

Puro is also one of our vaulting horses and is wonderful with the young vaulters, he is helping Contessa’’s Vaulting team to achieve success and recognition. He has many fans within the centre and loves nothing more than going in the field with his best friend Real.

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Tarik
Andalusian X Thoroughbred

A forward thinking, sensitive chap who has been trained to Advanced Level in Dressage.

Tarik is a grey 15.2hh Andalusian x thoroughbred gelding. Tarik is a forward thinking and sensitive chap, trained to advanced level in dressage. He is shows a keen attitude to in-hand work.

He is also an experienced show jumper and has a good competition record.

Tarik also enjoys relaxing in the field with some of the Centre’’s other horses. Tarik has proved to be a great dressage horse for young riders, teaching them how to get a correct seat and position.

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Ted
Thoroughbred

A gentle natured, quick thinker.

Ted is a gentle natured quick thinking horse who loves to jump but is also athletic and enjoys forward thinking work. He is an ex-racehorse who has also evented.

Ted is a favourite of both staff and clients seeking to gain more experience with feel. He is very good in teaching the rider the sensitivity of the aiding and the beginning of lateral work. Ted also enjoys taking part in Contessa’s many events and clinics.

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Axel
Throughbred

A great horse to improve your riding on.

Axel came to Contessa with a background in both dressage and jumping. He is a Thoroughbred with three  good paces. He has quickly become a favorite amongst our staff and is currently helping many riders in the transition from cob-type school horses to more sensitive, educated school horses.

Many of our riders find him to be a fabulous ride, and help them progress through the levels to establish a better contact and feel.

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Saffy
British Warmblood

One of our newest additions.

Faerie Flax is one of the newest additions to Contessa. She is an 11 year old British Warmblood, schooled to Medium level dressage.  She is proving to be very good at all lateral movements with trot being her best gait. Saffy has also evented and enjoys showjumping.

Saffy has a keen willing nature towards dressage, jumping and can be regularly seen on our ridden clinics.

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Lilly

Lilly is a happy, popular and friendly mare. She is a great confidence giver especially when it comes to jumping. She loves the fuss and attention that she gets around the yard and especially being given lots of carrots and apples from young people.

Lilly is not only a talented jumper, she excels at teaching riders the basics of dressage.

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Walter
Irish Draught

Walter is privately owned by Jeff. Despite his size Walter is a very light and sensitive horse.

He is an ideal horse for an advancing rider who wishes to learn how to ride correctly. Before coming to Contessa Walter was a hunter and is currently getting used to his new role.

Jeff’s plans for Walter include competing him.

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Maisie
Cob

Young at heart and very versatile.

Maisie is a beautiful dun and white tri-coloured mare who is a firm favourite. She i’s a versatile mare, who is great on the flat, over fences and has even turned her hoof to Western.

Maisie loves jumping and taking part in fun Pony Club games and group Lessons.

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Fergus
Cob

Fun, calm and a vaulting star.

Fergus is a fun chestnut cob, who has a lovely character. Over the years he has given many riders confidence as they learn to master their initial riding techniques. As he is very calm we are able to teach those of all ages on him. Fergus also enjoys western, showjumping and is the UK and England Vaulting Champion horse.

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Suzy
Cob

Is a very pretty and sensitive mare.

Suzy is a sweet natured bay cob, who is a firm favourite with both adults and children. She has a very smooth canter and loves taking part in Pony Club activities. Suzy is also talented at lunge lessons with her 3 smooth gaits enabling people to work on their positions.

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Rosie
Cob

Calm, reliable and a great ride.

Since her arrival in 2012 Rosie has built up a considerable fan club amongst our young and adult riders. She is calm and reliable, helping riders find their balance and confidence. Rosie can also do lateral work and offers an interesting ride to more experienced riders.

Rosie is also an incredibly honest jumper and really comes to life over fences. She is also now turning her hoof to vaulting.

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Millie

Gentle, forward going and best friends with Toby.

Millie is a gentle forward going pony. She shows a talent in teaching both children and adults a correct contact and the beginnings of lateral movements. Millie is also a keen jumping pony.

Millie joined the Contessa team with her friend Toby a few years ago, they are both very valuable within the school.

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Toby

Sweet natured gelding who loves jumping and Dressage.

Toby is a sweet natured 13.3hh caremello gelding. Since joining Contessa he has showed a great ability towards all aspects of the sport. He loves nothing more than going over jumps and going out in the field. Toby is also very willing to participate in Dressage, being able to do basic lateral movements. He has also competed as part of the Contessa Dressage Team.

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Advanced Instructor
Buy 5 vouchers and get the 6th at half price, buy 10 and get the 11th free
Lesson type Single lesson 6 vouchers 11 vouchers
Private three quarter hour: £56.00 £308.00 £560.00
Semi-Private one hour: £50.00 £275.00 £500.00
Group one hour: £40.00 £220.00 £400.00

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