Here I am (suddenly, it seems) on the last day of my visit to Spain.

We (my parents, who used to live here, and I) have had a wonderful time during these extra days of our visit to Spain, after the CAA trip. And we continued with the horse theme throughout which, as you may have gathered by now, is quite easy to do here in Spanish horse country.

On Monday, we drove the short distance to Jerez de la Frontera to visit the Royal Andalusian School of Equestrian Art. There were no performances that day, but our entrance ticket allowed us to wander through the park-like grounds, see the palace and the riding school’s exhibition building, and watch the riders and horses during their training sessions. We were even able to walk through the saddle shop, where the harness-maker instructors and students make bridles and saddles by hand. There’s a small room off to one side of the building that has examples of the various stages in the construction of a traditional saddle, and there’s a short video that shows the process and explains it in several languages. 

a beautifully decorated entrance to the exhibition hall at the Royal Andalusian School of Equestrian Art in Jerez de la Frontera

a beautifully decorated entrance to the exhibition hall at the Royal Andalusian School of Equestrian Art in Jerez de la Frontera

the back of the palace (the exhibition hall is to the right) and the outdoor practice arena at the riding school

the back of the palace (the exhibition hall is to the right) and the outdoor practice arena at the riding school

Also wonderfully informative and interactive is the riding school’s carriage museum. They have a fairly small collection (I counted ten vehicles), but they represent a variety of types, styles, and makers. Each one has quite a lot of space around it, making them all easy to see, and each one also has a computer screen with information about the particular vehicle in a variety of languages, making it a user-friendly museum for visitors who may know little or nothing about carriages or driving. On larger screens at several locations are videos of the carriages being driven, which is another nice touch that breathes some life into a static museum display.

On Wednesday, we went back to Seville for a short visit. While exploring the narrow streets around the bullring, we found the harness shop of Angel Gonzalez, who is a cousin of our local host for the CAA trip, Raimundo. We had met Angel during one of our farm visits with the group, and he recognized us when we came into the shop to look around. He immediately welcomed us to his shop and asked if we would like to see the workshop as well, so we walked a couple of blocks away to a small space on a side street. Here were Angel’s father (whose father started the business) and their one other harness-maker. The shop was full of leather, bits and pieces of things, tools, forms, and both finished and partly finished projects. Angel explained that they do new work (bridles, harness, and saddles) as well as repair work, mostly on pieces they originally made. All the work is done entirely by hand.

sewing leather by hand at the workshop of Angel Gonzalez

sewing leather by hand at the workshop of Angel Gonzalez

After saying our goodbyes, we wandered through the old part of Seville until we found (a short but disorienting walk away) the impressive cathedral. Here, we saw more of the ubiquitous horse-drawn tourist carriages. The day was quite hot and most of the drivers had kindly parked their waiting carriages so the horses were in the shade.

elaborate stonework on one of the entrances to Seville's cathedral

elaborate stonework on one of the entrances to Seville’s cathedral

this driver trotted his lovely horse by the cathedral, executed a one-handed "u"-turn, and parked the carriage so that the horse was standing in the shade of a tree

this driver trotted his lovely horse by the cathedral, executed a one-handed “u”-turn, and parked the carriage so that the horse was standing in the shade of a tree

On Thursday, we visited a lovely private farm and carriage collection in the countryside between Jerez and El Puerto de Santa Maria. This was the visit that had been arranged by a friend of a friend, whose cousin’s family owns the farm and the carriages. I’ll post some photos from that visit in my next report, later today.