Luis Valença and Family – Portugal


Widely regarded as the greatest living practitioner of Classical dressage currently alive in the world today, our father, Mestre Luis Valença, was hand-picked by the legendary Nuno Oliveira to be his principal apprentice and assistant in the 1960s.

Before that, he had been trained by Mestre D. José Manuel da Cunha Menezes, who had been ecuyer-en-chef (rider, trainer and instructor) to members of the royal family of Portugal. Hence, Luis Valença was the recipient of a crucial moment in dressage history – the point at which the pure Baroque way of riding became influenced by the French school of Baucher, and then Oliveira’s subsequent development of that system towards the Classical style we recognize today.

To this system, both Valença and Oliveira added the principals of  both competitive sport dressage and equestrian art practiced to its highest form. But there is nothing intimidating about Master Valença – in fact when you arrive you might see him taking care of the gardens, taking out the trash, dragging the arena…or training a horse in piaffe or capriole. Anyone who loves the horse is welcome.

To understand more detail of Luis’ rich and profound life and the trainers he has worked with click here:


Filipa is an international clinician as well as dressage performer in Apassionata and other heart-stopping equestrian shows staged throughout Europe.

Filipa dedicates herself to helping riders get the best out of their horses – whether with her or on their own horses. Clear, direct and -above all – kind and compassionate, Filipa is that rare thing: a dressage teacher with heart and compassion whose first desire is to serve. One lesson with Filipa will begin to transform you. Two lessons will begin to confirm that transformation. After three lessons, you will find yourself becoming the rider  – and lunger and in-hand expert – you always dreamed of being. Her secret…how the outside rein directs the horse….

Filipa is also very good at teaching sport dressage riders. She coaches Inês, current Portuguese Junior Champion and is qualified for  European Young Riders championship as well as her own son Luis Valenca who was expecting to get qualification for the European Juniors Championship.

More about Filipa:


Like her sister Filipa, Sofia Valença is also an international clinician and dressage rider for Apassionata and other shows in Europe and the USA.

Sofia will help you establish your Classical seat, hands that have ‘feel’ a relaxed leg, a soft and elegant body posture, riding from the core…and if you’ve ever fancied trying it sidesaddle, then yet another wonderful world can be opened to you. Compassionate, funny, a great explainer, Sofia will help create the beautiful Classical rider that lives inside you and – like her sister – will work with you equally effectively whether you are a complete beginner or an established Grand Prix rider. Mother of Ines Valença, currently Young Rider Dressage Champion of Portugal, her approach is always calm, warm, kind yet effective.

Gonçalo Linhas

A trainer and rider produced by the legendary Luis Valenca himself, when you ride with Gonçalo you are getting a direct line to Master Luis. Gonçalo produces horses for legendary equestrian theater performances such as Apassionata and Bartabas and is one of the most brilliant rider/trainers currently at work in Europe. Having him as a mentor and clinician in our program is a delight: his teaching style is always kind, always clear, always logical, always consistent. Put simply he is one of the best. 

If you bring your own horse to one of our clinics, be sure to have Gonçalo ride him; he can transform any horse in an astonishingly short period of time and leave you with lasting and effective exercises to take home. 

Inês Valença

Ines is the youngest teacher of the legendary Valenca family. At just 18 years old she is already on the Portuguese national dressage team, rides and trains at Grand Prix and is adapt at helping people make the link between classical dressage and sport dressage. Sweet, kind, funny and very knowledgeable, her youth is belied by the fact that she is the product of several generations of teaching within the Valenca family and she can communicate this teaching very effectively.