Located on the outskirts of the traditional white village of Casarabonela with its Mountain backdrop, Cortijo el Chenil Caballos is based at Cortijo el Chenil Rural Retreat. An absolutely stunning rural retreat set in over 30000 sq metres of breathtaking Andalucian countryside. This picture perfect location provides the ideal starting point for your riding adventure. With the Guadalhorce valley littered with Olive groves on one side and the beautiful mountainous Sierra de las Nieves Natural park on the other, whichever direction you ride in you can guarantee stunning scenery and unparalleled views, and all in the company of a professional jockey!
Run by husband and wife team Darren and Sarah Biggs, Cortijo el Chenil, is the culmination of a families dream and a great deal of determination and hard work. Sarah’s background in business and hospitality coupled with Darrens experience in the world of Horses means they have been able to create a truly unique business. Their experience and attitude means they are able to offer our customers a far more personal service tailored to their needs ensuring that every person that visits leaves feeling like they have enjoyed a truly unforgettable adventure.
A professional Jockey
Darren left home at the tender age of 15 to pursue a career in Racing. At 18, whilst working for trainer Robert Williams, he was encouraged to apply for his jockey license. Incredibly he didn’t have to wait long for his first winner as less than 3 months after his first public ride he booted home Pilotjet at Ascot in October 1987.
In a career that spanned more than 20 years, riding more than 4000 different horses in racing and work riding, he rode in excess of 600 winners worldwide including 231 at home with his best year seeing him kick home an incredible 61 winners. His career saw him race all over Europe, the Middle East, the Far East and America and he worked with many of the worlds best trainers and stables including working at Godolphin during a golden period.
Some of his career highlights include an association with filly Magical Retreat who won the Pretty Polly Stakes in 1993 and as a 33-1 outsider rode a head second to Pure Grain in the Yorkshire Oaks in 1995. He won the Cypriat Derby, rode a treble at Yarmouth, rode in the English Derby, 1000 and 2000 guineas amongst others and managed to ride a winner at every race track in the UK. His last win was a Group 1 winner at the Emirates Championship in the UAE on Mangadore for Sheikh Khalifa Bin Mohd Al Thani in 2002 soon after which he took the decision to retire completely from the world of racing.
After retiring he took a step back from the world of horses, but after taking his daughter riding in Andalucia whilst on holiday in 2017 the desire to work with horses returned, and after being blown away by the experience of riding through this magical landscape the idea for Cortijo el Chenil Caballos was born.
What really matters is what our guests really think about their experiences here at Cortijo el Chenil Caballos. Below are a sample of the comments we have recieved from our customers
"Our best ever Riding Holiday"
"This holiday is what dreams are made of"
"Spanish riding at its best!"
Breathtaking views, beautiful horses, outstanding accommodation"
My husband and I have got home after having the most amazing holiday imaginable. We spent 7 days here and there were a lot of tears when we had to leave - I could have happily stayed there and not ever come home!!
Darren and Sarah are the most outstanding hosts, extremely welcoming, very helpful and full of interesting knowledge of the local area. They are so much fun to be around and we haven’t laughed so much in a long time. It’s been an extremely stressful year but even after just one night I woke up feeling relaxed, refreshed and all the stresses had just melted away.
Our accommodation was so luxurious and had everything we could possibly need. It was a million times better than the five star hotel we stayed at for our honeymoon. Everywhere was spotless, thoughtfully furnished and cleverly designed. We even had our own little balcony and sitting with a cup of tea each morning watching the sunrise was the best start you could possibly have to your day.
The riding was out of this world. The horses are so beautiful and so impeccably behaved. I hadn’t ridden for just over two years after my health wouldn’t allow me to ride and since having an operation my confidence to try and ride again was very low. The gentle Farah couldn’t have been any kinder to me on my first day and showed me that it was more than ok to be back in the saddle again. Manolo, Rey, Epico and last but by no means least the incredibly handsome Rociero made my dreams come true and then some. The scenery and views are breath taking and no amount of photos can possibly do them justice. Darren is also so much fun to be out riding with and takes the most wonderful photos for you to treasure forever.
The local food and villages were also incredible and we had great fun trying authentic Spanish dishes, tapas trails and craig thoroughly enjoyed the local beer!! There aren’t enough words to recommend this place, the horses, the riding and of course Darren and Sarah to do all of them the justice they all deserve.
I cannot Thankyou you both enough for creating all the most amazing experiences and memories this last week. Every day was a day I’ll treasure forever. We both cannot wait to come back again next year it certainly cannot come quick enough and I’m very grateful to have made some wonderful friends!
Just returned from a wonderful short break at Cortijo el Chenil Caballos. The panoramic views from the accommodation are breathtaking, and with the horses onsite it is a stunning setting. The apartments are luxury standard, and the best we have stayed in on our many European and Worldwide riding holidays.
The horses are forward, well schooled and love their work which allows for you to fully appreciate the beautiful scenery and landscape, as well as enjoying some great riding in the mountains, passing through villages and farmland.
We will certainly be returning- Thank you Darren and Sarah.
A little place of heaven in the hills.
This place is amazing !!! From the moment we got there Darren & Sarah were brilliant, the apartment was perfect. we had the 2 bed apartment its was spacious cool inside and well equipped. meeting the horses was lovely all of them are well trained and well mannered. They are so well looked after and you tell they are much loved by Darren & Sarah. We rode 4 times, had 3 morning rides as they were much cooler in August than the evening ride, but the evening ride was amazing, the horses were so surefooted on the mountain roads you could really apricate what an amazing place it really is. My daughter fell in love with all the horses and loved helping Darren with the feeding and horse care twice a day and would sit outside the apartment waiting for Darren to call her. The wonderful Farrar & Epico were my favorite horses, they could make you feel you were a grand prix rider. Darren & Sarah took us to a small local restaurant at the top of the mountain for the most amazing local food. If you book here you will not want to leave, so much so I'm already looking at dates when I can get back and introduce more people to this little piece of heaven in the hills.
Hooves around the world
We were lucky enough to be visited by the wonderful Sanne from Hooves around the world in October 2021, a fantastic young horsewoman who spends her time travelling the world visiting the best equestrian holiday providers. She really enjoyed her time here at Cortijo el Chenil Caballos and wrote a wonderful blog post for her website
Our horses are a combination of Spanish, Lusitanos and Hispano Arabs, as they are best suited to the rocky mountainous terrain and the climate. As animal lovers we wanted to adopt the healthiest possible lifestyle for our horses and we work in conjunction with our vet to ensure our horses live in the most natural environment possible because healthy happy horses are a joy to ride
Unlike many Spanish stables, our horses live out in 2 herds. They have shelter (both manmade and natural) to protect them from the heat and the elements, and they live in large fields where they are encouraged to run and interact naturally, with their feed and water spaced to encourage them to keep moving thereby keeping them healthy and happy.
Our horses are our priority, so due to the mountainous location and rocky terrain our treks are mainly walk and trot. Our horses often have to climb for long periods of time and so we make sure they are not pushed too hard. On certain routes there are short spaces to canter, but our experiences are more about the joy of riding these magnificent animals through the most amazing countryside and experiencing a taste of true Spanish culture.
We do not undertake our normal riding holidays throughout the months of July and August as with temperatures regularly exceeding 40°, we feel for the health and wellbeing of our horses riding in these temperatures everyday is unnecessary. We will however run reduced riding holidays when we take them out early morning or late evenings and the occasional Full Moon walk. Please fill out our contact form for availability and pricing.