One of our foals  was responsible for introducing me to clicker training.
When Picasso was just a few months old, we tried to introduce him to a head collar. We were not expecting any problems, having had other foals who had no problem wearing a head collar for the first time. Unfortunately, poor Picasso decided that the head collar was the scariest thing ever, and however we tried, he would not let us put it on, backing away, rolling his eyes, and eventually rearing up and almost falling over backwards. We realised that we couldn’t turn it into a battle and having recently heard about Clicker training, I decided to give it a go. A couple of days later, having received my new clicker training book in the post, armed with a plastic bottle to use as a target, I went down to the horses to start the training. I was totally amazed. Literally within a couple of minutes I had taught Picasso to target, I could not believe how easy it was and was very excited. I had decided not to use food treats, with Picasso being so young I did not want to encourage any nipping, and chose to give him a nice rub as the reward, which worked perfectly. (we do use treats on the older horses) Once he had got the hang of the target, I replaced it with a scrunched up head collar and he was perfectly happy to touch that instead. I then progressed to holding the head collar on the side of his face, with no reaction and within minutes I had the head collar on, with no stress or fear. It was like a miracle, I couldn’t believe how easy it was and was so excited at this new training tool. I read on in the book and tried a few more exercises on our 4 youngsters, easily teaching them to back up by just a hand signal in front of their chest; I could not believe how quickly they learned and how keen they were to do more. It has been such a useful tool for us, having lots of rescue horses with fears and nervous problems; it is the ideal way to help them.Picasso having a great canter, bitless and barefoot horses, Spain

“He had his final party, he kicked up his heels in glee, he ran around his paddock and said thanks for letting me be me”
Our dear old Hercy died today, very suddenly, aged 25. He had a fantastic day yesterday, enjoying the sun and galloping and bucking around the sand arena, full of the joys of spring (and a few hours eating grass too smile emoticon ) We expected him to live to 35 and we are in deep shock and sadness. Hercy was one in a million he touched the hearts of all who rode him, not many horses could be relied on to take tiny children unled, or stay behind the ride in walk while everyone cantered. (or give me fantastic energetic canters when I pressed the right buttons smile emoticon ) I loved him with all my heart and I don’t know how I am going to cope without him, or seeing his cute little face every day. The rest of the herd are going to miss their good old Uncle Hercy too, he was the horse they all relied on if anything made them nervous, if they had to pass a monster or needed the confidence to go in a new direction. So glad you didn’t suffer Hercy, couldn’t wish for more really but I wish you hadn’t left me xxxx

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Here at Cortijo Los Lobos we are very happy to cater for our vegetarian or vegan guests, just let us know your requirements when you book.
Our meals are always freshly prepared with healthy, local ingredients. Salads are served with our home grown olive oil and seasonal fruits from our garden are used when available.

This afternoon it was so hot and sunny, I decided to do a bit of light riding on my 24 year old mare Capri in the arena, with the aim of trying her in a cordeo. For some reason she decided that she didn’t want me to ride her and every time I moved the mounting block, she stepped forward – I turned it into a game for a while, as she seemed to be enjoying the teasing, and I was in no hurry but then I decided to forget riding her, she was in such a playful mood, it seemed a good time to do some liberty ground work. It was amazing, and so heartwarming and enjoyable – she stuck to me like glue, making turns, trotting, halting, all to my voice commands, we have never done this together before, but i can’t wait to do more with her. Even when her friend Scarlett called her over to the fence, she had a quick sniff in passing, but then continued to follow me!

We now have 43 amazing reviews on Tripadvisor! Thank you to all our lovely guests who took the time to write a review, we really appreciate it.

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Fern can be ridden by all abilities in walk, but only experienced riders in faster paces.

Fern was born at least a month premature in August 2005.   Her mum Alfie, unlike the rest of the mares that have foaled here, seems to like to give birth in the middle of the day, on the muck heap, surrounded by all of the other horses.  Luckily, as mentioned in Ferns older brother Spirit’s story earlier, I was in the field, about to collect her first born,  who was a year old and needed to be weaned in preparation for the new arrival.  As it turned out, I had left it too late, but was luckily there to witness the birth.  Though we had already had 4 foals born here, this was the first birth I had managed to catch in progress and I was very excited.   Things seemed to be progressing normally to begin with but after a while I became worried that Alfie was in trouble – the foal had started to appear but then everything seemed to stop.  I knew that it was best not to intervene and let nature take its course, but when the delay seemed too long, my instincts took over and I decided that I needed to help a bit.  Luckily with a gentle tug on her legs, Fern was finally born, so tiny but perfect. I now had to worry about the afterbirth and of course you remember all the advise about checking for holes etc , I just had to trust my own judgement that all seemed normal.  It was a wonderful experience but I must admit to preferring finding a nice healthy foal in the morning – much less stressful!

Knowing that Fern was so premature, I was then quite worried to see that she was taking a long time to get up and suckle.  Again, I knew that I should not try to intervene too soon, and ran up to the house to check my books and internet to find out how long a delay was acceptable for a foal to stand.  Reassured that it could take some time, I raced back down to the field to wait.  After what seemed like hours, Fern had still made no attempt to stand and I began to get worried.  I decided to try to help her to her feet and placed her in a position to suckle.  To my relief everything worked out fine and Alfie seemed delighted with her lovely, tiny new baby.  Within a few days of her birth, Fern not only had a loving Mum but also a very proud brother to look after her.  Fern and Spirit were soon inseparable and eight years later they still enjoy playing together, though Spirit does prefer his male companions and Fern has become very bonded with Lola and Blackberry.

Being so tiny at birth, Fern has remained very small; she actually looks like a miniature horse, with everything perfectly proportioned.  It was a problem when the time came for backing her as we needed competent light weight riders but she was perfect from the day she had a saddle on and over the years, due to her small size (no more than 13hh), she can go months at a time without being ridden, if we don’t have small enough riders around, yet she is so calm and well behaved, she really enjoys going out and if anything worries her she just has a good look at it but very rarely reacts to anything.  She is a little pocket rocket though, and can give the bigger horses a run for their money – it is best to have her in front when planning a canter or she will do her best to wiggle her way through to be in the lead!  As tiny as she is, she will happily take up to around 60 kilos, without even breaking into a sweat, so has become very popular with the lighter weight ladies!

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Picasso can only be ridden by experienced riders (at the moment).

Picasso is our beautiful chestnut gelding, born at the farm in 2005.  He is the son of Leo and Capri and shares a bit of both of their natures, which makes him a calm, easy , loveable horse.

He is lean, like his Mum and Dad , and just the right height  to be a useful size for clients.   We have just started riding him again after a 7 month gap over the winter, and he is amazingly well behaved, nothing seems to scare him and he is a joy to ride.

When he was a small foal he was very frightened of head collars, and would get so scared if you tried to put one on him that he would rear up and once even fell over backwards.   I did not want to force him to accept one when he was clearly so distressed so I looked for an alternative method of getting him to accept it and came across clicker training.  I had never tried it before, but from what I read it seemed like a possible solution, so armed with a new book and clicker I set to work.  I was totally amazed with the result – I started by getting him to touch a plastic bottle and clicking and rewarding every time he got it right, then within 10 minutes I had him willingly touching a head collar scrunched up in my hand.  From there it was easy, painless steps to clicking while holding against his face, and then, within 20 minutes at the most he was allowing me to put the head collar on – totally stress free, it felt like a miracle cure!   From that day he was never frightened of the head collar again and needless to say I have put the clicker to good use for numerous other small problems that any of the horses have had.     Picasso  kept the long legged coltish look until he was about 6, in fact he can still look quite gangly and coltish now.   We felt that he needed a bit longer to mature physically than our filly foals, Twiggy and Fern, and we did not introduce him to a saddle and rider until the summer he turned 5.   He accepted a rider with no problem at all, but as we were in no rush we left him until the following summer to start riding him properly and he took to it as if he had been born to be ridden, happily taking the lead on hacks and just stopping and sniffing at anything that worried him.

He is great friends with ‘Uncle’ Hercy and also his half brother Spirit and of course still loves his Mum Capri.

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Twiggy can be ridden by all abilities and is good for heavier riders.

Twiggy was very thin when she was born, due to her mum, Bonnny’s, illness in late pregnancy, hence the name.  Bonny, being a young mum with her first foal, was not amused to begin with and every time poor Twiggy tried to suckle she kicked out at her.  This was quickly solved by holding one of Bonny’s front legs up and Twiggy soon grew into a lovely chunky bay foal, with a heart shaped white patch in the middle of her forehead.  Twiggy had slightly crooked legs when she was born but the vet assured us that it would not cause her any problems and it hasn’t, though it is interesting that  her front feet have taken on a strange almost duck bill platypus shape, to compensate for her legs. We were advised to try shaping them to a more normal shape but that if they persisted in growing back to this shape then it was obviously how they needed to be and it has worked – she is perfectly balanced and has never had any leg or foot problems – I do wonder if this would had been the case if she had been shod and had her feet filed to fit a shoe!

Twiggy is a loveable little character, though pushy at times but a favourite with our guests, especially teenage girls who love her for her sense of fun and kind nature.  She seemed to be born to be ridden, from just a few months old she would come up to us if we were carrying a saddle or bridle near her and nuzzle it as if to say ‘can I try it on?’ just like a little girl playing dressing up.  Of course we let her try and she loved it! She would stand at the gate when we took the horses out to ride, looking after us almost longingly  and by the time she was three it was obvious that she was ready to start being ridden.  Just like her Mum Bonny, she took to being ridden like a duck to water and was soon confident enough to be used for clients.  The only problem we have ever had with her is fitting a saddle – she is so round and flat backed, a bit like an over grown Shetland pony, and a normal saddle would make its way forward , ending up on her  neck!  We now use a treeless saddle on her and this has cured the problem.

Though Twiggy has always had the other youngsters to play with, even at the age of 8 she is still very close to her Mum – the pair make a comical sight, both big and round, standing together like a terrible twosome,  Twiggy is proof of the nature versus nurture debate – she has the same pushy attitude as her mother, even though her upbringing has been completely different , when the food is being put out, watch out, you might just get run over by a pair of hairy elephants!

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Spirit can only be used for Ground work

Spirit is the Peter Pan of the herd. He will be 9 this August but is still at the development stage of a 4 year old, bless him. He was born prematurely, as mentioned previously in his Mum Alfie’s story – Alfie had given birth in the field with all the other horses one morning while I was out visiting a friend and our neighbour, worried the others might harm the foal, had removed him to the adjoining paddock. Thank goodness I was not out all day, or I dread to think what might have happened, but luckily I was able to lead Alfie into the paddock to join Spirit and to my relief they bonded immediately. Spirit, being premature, was tiny, but perfectly healthy and Alfie was an adoring mum until the birth of Spirit’s little sister Fern, a year later, when Spirit was firmly replaced. Poor Spirit, I had just decided that today was the day to wean him from his Mum by separating him to an adjoining paddock with some of his friends, as he was nearly a year old and she was due to give birth to her next foal in about a month. I had collected a head collar and was walking around the back of the stables to get him, when to my amazement I found Alfie, once more giving birth on the muck heap with a large horsey audience. She was obviously prone to giving birth prematurely and poor Spirit ended up having a very abrupt weaning. With his Mum and little sister Fern now in the adjoining paddock, Spirit was beside himself and it wasn’t long before he had worked out that with a bit of strategic wiggling he could get himself through the post and rail fencing to join them. Of course his Mum now had a new baby and no longer had any interest in Spirit and wasted no time in showing him, with ears back and foot raised every time he went near. It was a heartbreaking sight and being worried that Alfie would hurt Spirit, each time he got into their paddock I put him back with the others, but it was becoming a game and he was winning! In the end, after removing him several times, I decided to give up and just see what happened. Spirit was so determined, he was trying everything to get back near his mum. He stayed a safe distance to begin with , but each time his little sister laid down, he would lay down, just a few feet away, and if she went off for a little run around, so would he, it was as if he was mimicking her behaviour, as if to say, look , i’m still cute too. Unbelievably, it wasn’t long before Alfie accepted Spirit back, though the milk bar was firmly closed to him. Spirit and Fern developed a very strong bond, and after a few weeks, once they were all back in the main paddock with the other horses, if Fern called for her Mum , Spirit would come running , it was so sweet to watch.

Being born prematurely, Spirit took a long time to grow and fill out, and we left him longer than usual to mature a bit more, before starting to do any work with him. He is such a sweet natured and cheeky little thing, he will let you do anything with him on the ground and loves to be fussed and cuddled, in fact he will follow you around asking for it. He is a scruffy little urchin, with his dun colouring and ancient markings, he looks like a wild horse with his tatty mane and long forelock always in his eyes, he really is a cutey. We first backed him when he was about 6 and left him for a year to mature a bit more. He is very happy playing in the field with his best friend Picasso, they are like a pair of naughty school boys , always play fighting and running around, rearing up like a pair of stallions and boxing, they have great fun. The next year we got him to the stage of hacking out quite happily for a short time but he then started to rear up if anything scared him and we decided that we needed to take him back to basics again, do more ground work and just take our time with him. We are not in any hurry; he is such a sweet horse that if it came to it we would rather not ride him at all – we plan to try again this spring and see what happens, but if he ends up just being a horse for guests to groom and cuddle, that won’t be such a terrible thing .

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Bonny can be ridden by all abilities, she is good for heavier riders.

When we rescued Bonny with her mum Capri, 10 years ago, she was a big, fat out of control one year old with no manners whatsoever. We were told that her dad was a Belgian draught horse and her big head and stocky body certainly backed that up. Her beautiful chestnut colouring, with long, thick mane adds to the whole wild effect – she really is a character.

Bonny settled into our herd very well, with her mum by her side to give her confidence she was soon one of the gang, and was firmly put in her place if she tried to be too bossy.
We discovered that Bonny was born just two weeks after our first foal Leo but was very mature for her age and by the time she was three we decided to start backing her.
It was the first time we had backed a youngster and we were not sure what to expect. All the books said that she would buck when the saddle was on her back, and then she would be nervous about walking forward etc, and not know what to do with her legs, but luckily for us, Bonny had not read the books and from the first day it was as if she had always been ridden. We carefully put the saddle on her back and she acted as if nothing had happened, so we walked her around for a bit, for her to get used to it – still no reaction. Ok, we thought, lets see how she feels about some weight on her back – our daughter Elizabeth carefully laid across the saddle, still no reaction, even when we led her around the paddock, all she cared about was eating grass, she was totally oblivious to anything else. Thinking it was all too good to be true; Elizabeth then carefully sat on the saddle and allowed Bonny to carry on moving around, eating and just wandering wherever she wanted. She was completely happy with the rider on her back and we were ecstatic that this first stage had gone so well.
The next day we did the same thing, but this time leading her mum Capri in front of her, and she happily walked around the edge of the arena on a long lead rope with Elizabeth on her back, following her Mum. She was so completely relaxed that we decided to try a little trot, so we asked Capri to trot and just allowed Bonny to increase her speed if she wanted to. She went into trot beautifully without a buck in sight and seemed to be really enjoying herself; it was as if she was saying ‘look Mum, I can be like you’. Of course the fact that she had had no stress in her life, had not had to suffer the separation from her mum that most youngsters have to endure, or had shoes banged onto her feet or felt a bit in her mouth all must have added to the ease of this transition, but we were so thrilled at how smoothly it had gone.
After a couple more sessions like this we were keen to take Bonny out into the big wide world – after all, we wanted her to be a confident hacking horse, so why not start as we meant go on. With her Mum to follow, Bonny was perfectly happy to go out, and it was so easy to teach her the transitions to trot and canter, we simply asked her Mum to do it and Bonny followed, it was so smooth and easy and within a couple more days we were having the first canter, out on the trail, so easy for Bonny, not having to worry about corners or fences, just a nice straight line, following her Mum. Bonny very quickly became a lovely, useful pony for us to use for our clients, nothing seemed to spook her and she was a pleasure to ride. Her riding career had to go on hold for a while though, when we discovered a few months later that she was pregnant by Leo. One morning Bonny started to show symptoms of labour and we were very excited that the birth was imminent. Poor Bonny, a few hours later, she was becoming so stressed, rolling and sweating and pawing the ground, but nothing was happening and we decided to call the vet. After an internal inspection the vet informed us that the foal was the wrong way round but that he did not think she was in labour, it was a rare late pregnancy colic. From what we could understand, it was some sort of complication of the pregnancy. He made her as comfortable as he could with pain relief etc and told me that if the foal started to be born I would have to try to turn it and showed me what to do – help! as you can imagine, this was not something I really wanted to have to attempt, but I prepared to spend the night in the stable with her and after a sleepless night things had calmed down and thankfully Bonny was completely fine by the morning. Phew! What a relief! Bonny finally gave birth a few weeks later, perfectly naturally in the middle of the night and we were greeted in the morning by her beautiful little filly, who we named Twiggy as she was a bundle of bones, due to Bonny’s illness. Bonny was not a natural Mum in the first few hours, she really did not want poor little Twiggy to suckle, and kept threatening to kick her every time she tried. Fortunately, by holding one foot up so that she couldn’t kick, we were able to encourage the process along and Bonny soon got the hang of things. Nearly eight years on she is still a great Mum, and she and Twiggy are inseparable, a real terrible twosome.