An exclusive interview with Mr Thomas Schmutzer

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Good morning Mr Schmutzer, thank you for granting us this interview. I believe that the Escuela has been established for some time now.

Good morning to you too! Yes, you are right; we started the project in 1996 and opened officially on 17th Sept 1998. Correct me if I am wrong, but I believe that the standard of this establishment is that of an institution. You do not become an institution overnight; however after 15 years of history, yes we are an institution and we are where we want to be.

I have talked to a number of people who come to the school and I cannot fail to notice that many are from different foreign countries, even America. From what they told me, it would appear that the reason why they keep coming back is because the standards here are higher than in their own country. How do you react to this?

Some 90% of our clients come from abroad. Although we are lately seeing an increasing number of Russian visitors, there is good mix of different nationalities including Saudi Arabians, Kuwaitis and even some Arab Royal visitors. I think that the reason for this is because, firstly we only work with professionals,all our teachers are qualified professionals with a long standing career and what’s more important they know how to teach horse riding. Secondly we believe in providing good value for money in terms of teaching standards and knowledge acquisition in the shortest time possible so that one can start enjoying the activity. This is particularly relevant for children and first time riders.

Is it true that one of your most successful areas is the pony club?

Yes this is true. Apart from the fact that we have a first rate head teacher there, who is “horse riding” itself, Julia Gladstone comes from a long family line of horse teachers. I believe she has a genetic disposition to teaching. Also there are hardly any pony clubs in Spain, we are just one of a few. We take this very seriously because this is where students begin to form the basis for what comes later. It is essential that students receive the correct tuition right from the start. Horse riding requires perseverance, dedication and some hard work therefore it is important that young students learn correctly so they start enjoying riding in the shortest possible time.

As we said earlier quite a number of your students are from overseas, is this something to do with price? How does you cost of tuition compare with other countries?

I think it’s about the same, perhaps a bit cheaper. We must to take into account that to maintain high standards of teaching, you need high standard teachers and this does reflect on our own costs. As I always say, you get what you pay for.

What about more specialised tuition and tuition for adults?

Of course we have an excellent team of teachers the likes of Aurelio Guttierez and Paul George for jumping, Alejandro Asencio for dressage, all well known in the competition world and José Miguel Ejea for dressage, Karen Taylor for adults and so on.

Could I keep my horse here?

Our livery service is second to none. Anyone keeping their horses here knows that this is one of the most modern and best in Spain, even Europe. This is where horses get the best possible looking after. The best quality feed, best quality hay, top quality wood chips and beddings and the stable hands are professionals. Let’s not mention the availability of a farrier on the premises and a veterinary service, if required. Some of the horses here are very expensive this is why we need to provide the best possible service as well as a high level of security. You can´t just walk in or park your car inside the establishment like in any supermarket, this is strictly controlled and at night we provide watchman security in addition to the electronic protections.

Do you hold competitions here?

Yes of course. We have various types of completions at different times of the year such as jumping, dressage and even the pony club students hold competitions and shows. Many of the 5 year old students of yesterday are now fully experienced riders and some are even making their name at national and international level.

I have never seen an equestrian centre as impressive as this. I assume you must be very proud of what you have achieved.

Obviously I am, however the funny thing is that my original idea was to build something for my three Spanish horses and for friends, but the problem is that when I put pen to paper I just did not know when to stop so I ended up with what you see; 268 horse boxes, 7,000 m2 of outdoor arena, 1500 m2 of indoor arena, and the rest far from what I envisaged at the start. The arena’s floor humidity is controlled by computer, even after heavy rain it can still be used after just 3 to 4 hours, once the system has pumped out the excess water. Our beautiful setting and the purpose built building also help us to provide a location for special events such as weddings, birthdays, conventions, etc. We are like a beautiful island on the Costa del Sol.

Thank you for seeing me.

It has been my pleasure. Thank you.

egladstone
Author: egladstone

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