My horsey life from the very beginning!

This is me and a pony I found in a paddock “somewhere”! I always had the need to go and speak to the horse or pony, even in my youngest years.

When I started to ride in the 70s everything was very different from today. My parents had no interest in horses and I was left to my own devices. I would spend all day in the stables with a pot of mashed potatoes and my mother’s home-made meatballs to keep me going. I was only about 9 or 10 years old at that time. I recall the stable was owned by a man called ‘Ahlstedt” and situated just outside Karlstad in Sweden. He was selling and buying all sorts of horses and more. I remember there were even wild animals from the circus in the stables! The horses were practically wild and I had to break them in myself. (that is where my stubborness started) Some of them were mostly terrifying, baring their teeth and trying to kick me when I was in the box. These were hard days but I learned how to understand the horses and how to make them feel good around me. I felt I had a connection with them despite my age and lack of training. I always rode bareback and without any concerns for safety. Thank goodness my parents had no interest in horses and didn’t worry about the risks I was taking at such a young age.

This photo was captured during a riding summer camp at Clarebergs Riding School outside Gothenburg. This is me and the four year old pony Focus I had to ride during that time.
The year was 1971.

In those days, my dreams of horses and success revolved around reading about it. I read hundreds of books about becoming a riding star, as having my own pony was a dream.

Perhaps my childhood experience made me who I am today? I am still totally mad about horses. My whole life has been centred on horses and here we are…. And who could believe in that time, that myself and my business partner Lina would be writing and selling equestrian books all around the world. Not me.

Wow! I remember that feeling, to just sit on a horse!
Notice my riding equipment, not so comfortable!

Parents of today, especially in northern European countries where I come from, are much more supporting than my parents. For good and for bad. The children of today (in my opinion) lose their creativity because their parents are fussing around them all the time.  Just being together with the pony and playing and exploring how to communicate is important for the child to be a good horseman or horsewoman.  Riding is about horsemanship, not only knowing how to ride. And in my opinion I think everyone who is going to be a good horse men should learn to educate a horse from young age.

In our society it’s a lot about competing and showing off. Many pony riders are nowadays a ”member” of a full team comprising of mum and dad, trainers, vets, ferriers, osteopaths and even masseuse. The kids have perfect outfits and horse equipment. Riding has more or less just become a way to have success in the arenas. Sometimes just for their parents to enjoy.

Of course, I respect that, and I have been a “pony-mum” too, with two daughters riding and competing, Actually, on reflection, I think that was the best time of my life! But both my girls gave up riding after school. In my case i think I was caring too much, giving my kids the encouragement I didn’t get myself. 

This is Fredrika, one of my daughters, riding the fabulous mare Cassandra K.

Riding must be about joy and pleasure from an early age for both horse and rider.

Everyones needs variety, creativity and playfulness to stay happy and motivated. That is what we are trying to communicate in our books. (sold here or The first book we produced (Creative Riding with Obstacles) came from hundreds of training sessions different training classes I went to with my kids. I was wondering, why aren’t there any books with exercises to inspire our daily training? Years later, I met Lina, who was also thinking the same and our books were born.

Golega, the capital of horses!

This is ‘Barbro’s Lusitano gelding Eneias.

The most appropriate way to start a horsey blogg, must be with the most horsey event ever experienced in my entire horse life. Golegã International Horse Show in Portugal – This is a must see!! A spectacular Lusitano Festival – quite literally a unique experience that no one can forget. It is at Golegã, known as the ‘Capital of Horses’ located in the top of the Ribatejo region and home to many of the famous Lusitano Breeder estates.

It’s kind of a riding party.

This show, or feira started 1571. Every year since has horse lovers from all over the world celebrated the Lusitano horse. In this time the whole town of Golegã, transforms from it usual sleepy state to a frenzy of horses, carriages and food stalls. It is a party enjoyed by local people and foreign visitors alike. From late afternoon the streets are packed until the early hours. There’s a wide array of traditional food stalls, restaurants, bars and cafes and discos that stay open most the night. 

The safety is not always the best.

The fair is always in November, over a 10 day period and must include the most important date of the 11th November, which is the The Feast of Saint Martin or Saint Martin’s Day, on this day the people eat roasted chestnuts and drink new wine.  Being the most important day of the festival everyone dresses in the traditional Portuguese Riding attire, (although most dress up throughout the Festival, you usually see the finest clothing this day).

This woman is the best bullfighter woman in Portugal.

You can see the Lusitano showing classes in hand and ridden, dressage competition, working equitation and there are usually other competitions taking place, such as endurance and even eventing.  Later in the evening in the centre’s main arena (The Manga) you can enjoy horses and riders with traditional outfits parades, beautiful classical shows, fast action games of horse ball and prize giving parades.

Situated around the Manga are the breeder’s ‘Casettas’, here you have the opportunity to meet the breeders. The ‘Casettas’ are small wooden houses designed to greet guests offer wines and olives along side each Casetta some examples of their horses are presented in stalls. 

The casettas for the breeders.

If you want to go to Golega, it’s about 1,5 hours drive from Lisbon. The best time to experience the feira is to stay there when it’s start to get dark, the atmosphere is getting really amazing when the air is filled with smoke from the roasting chestnuts and the BBQ’s. 

A whole pig Bbq in the street.
The bars are in the height of the horses.

In Portugal you are never to young for riding.
This is me and my friend Kicki who I was working with when I came to Portugal.


Barbro is one of two partners of Brightmare Productions. Barbro grew up in Sweden and lived there until four years ago, when she moved to Portugal.
Barbro is a graphic designer and has been working with advertising her whole life. She has also run a livery yard with horses on her farm, breeding warmblood horses, riding and competing both dressage and showjumping.

In this blog Barbro will give you some examples of the tremendous horse life in Portugal and also some tips about horsey things in general.

We hope you like it. If you have any questions about anything, just send it to her mail

Ride with a smile! 🙂