My name is Carlie Vilar, I am a 23-year-old horse fanatic who has just finished her degree in equine behaviour and welfare. I started riding when I was a little girl, however things changed when I had to move around the world due to my dad’s job at the time. Being back in the UK for over 4 years now, my dream finally came true. I have a beautiful Friesian mare called Luna who has taught me a lot about myself, along with many life lessons. She is a very sassy, spirited, and warm-hearted horse who would jump through fire for me if I asked.
How did your horses come into your life?
Ever since I was a little girl, I had always wanted a horse; more specifically my dream horse (a Friesian), however, I never had the finance or the right environment to own any animals. When I moved back to the UK, I studied a degree in equine behaviour and realised that I could financially afford a horse through hard work and determination… So, one day I was scrolling on my phone and out of nowhere I saw an amazing 6-year-old horse in a video (Luna), being sold in Holland. It was one of those amazing moments where you get butterflies, goose bumps and an adrenaline rush all at the same time. This is how I knew I had to go see her and eventually buy her.
How long have you been riding?
I’ve been riding since I was six years old however, I had a few years where I couldn’t ride due to living in under-developed countries.
When and where do you ride?
I ride in the North West of England in a beautiful rural village called, Burwardsley. I ride on fields, arena’s, gallops, forest trails and occasionally beaches.
How did you start riding?
I started riding when my mum offered me a pony riding lesson in the south of France. Ever since that time I have been addicted to being around them.
What you and your horses currently working on?
When I first got Luna, she was very green and super-anxious of everything and everyone. It took us some time to build our partnership and confidence within herself. Since we are working on elementary level dressage and going anywhere, we want with a horse who has completely changed over the years and enjoys a hack with positive energy and full of confidence.
What do you love about riding?
Riding for me is all about the partnership you build with your horse. Horse behaviour is what I specialise in, and once you have a clear understanding of how your horse works under the saddle through trust, feel and respect, it becomes an experience that you can’t get enough of. Luna gets excited when she sees her tack and is always up for anything that I challenge her with… which in my opinion, should is the way it should be.
What you would you like to be doing in the future and do you have any goals?
In the future I would like to progress in the dressage levels with my girl, run my own behaviourist business and get a little foal from my Luna.
Have you ever had to deal with nerves in riding?
I have always been quite brave in terms of riding horses (maybe a little bonkers too), so nerves have never been a massive issue for me. However, I will always remember riding this crazy racehorse as part of my job. It was the most anxious, strongest, 17’2hh thoroughbred I had ever been on. Let’s just say he taught me how to remain calm in the scariest of scenarios (Rearing and spinning on roads, jumping into hedges, and bolting off full speed with no breaks)
If so, how did you/do you deal with them?
I always tell myself that nerves will only set you up for failure between you and your horse. A horse being a prey animal, will naturally be extremely sensitive to their surroundings and the energy you give out. Scientifically speaking, it has been proven that the horse can sense your heart rate and will most of time respond negatively to an increased heart rate. Therefore, the more nervous you get, the more the horse will get anxious because he thinks that the rider is scared of something (without realising that he is the reason). I would say that good breathing methods and taking things at your pace without pushing yourself or the horse is the best way to build your confidence and learn to ride without nerves.
Your Top Tip (horse care or riding)
My top tip would be to always listen to your horse. Many times, I see horses who are displaying many behavioural signs of pain, stress and discomfort and the rider either ignores, punishes, or labels them as “naughty” horses. I believe that there are always reasons for a horse behaving in a negative way and sometimes it can be as simple as: a lack of confidence from the horse. For example: the 17’2 thoroughbred racehorse who I would regularly ride would rear and bolt anytime he had to pass a tractor or a big lorry… I never told him off because it would make it worse and he was simply scared. Even though he is 9 and has been doing the same training and passing tractors on a daily basis for most of his life, no one has taken the time to give him some groundwork with him to build his confidence when passing big vehicles.
The Final Furlong (8 quick questions)
Who would be your dream horse to ride?
I must say my horse remains the one for me
Who is your equestrian rider hero?
Klaus is a horseman who I hugely look up to!
If you could have 5 people to dinner who would they be?