“Whatever your dream is, don’t lose sight of it”
Country of origin: Argentina
Occupation: Horse trainer. State of Residency: VIC. Favourite place in Australia: My Home. Upon arrival: Surprised by how all the houses looked the same, same shape and roof tiles. Also, amazed by the beautiful beaches.
By Cristy Abela
Carlos is a recognised horse trainer and writer of the best selling book” Through the Eyes of the Horse”. He is a genuine teacher who wants people to succeed with their horses helping them understand and connect with the horse’s soul. He divides his time between the Australia, US and New Zealand where he gives his sell out clinics.
TELL US YOUR STORY
At the peak of Argentina’s Dirty War, our parents decided to move the family (two sisters and myself) to Australia in search of a better life. We arrived to Sydney in 1980 not speaking one word of English. We lived in West Sydney close to my father’s job. As a teenager I played soccer as dad player soccer. But I was always looking for opportunities to ride horses. Not far from home, in Horsley Park I was able pay to ride a horse and every now and then I would meet people who had horses and ride with them.
As a young man, I returned to Argentina as I was feeling homesick. I lived there for a year, but after a while I felt I did not belong to either Australia or Argentina. There were some instances that helped me decide which place to call home. I took a bus and upon exiting I thanked the driver. The driver looked at me confused and a fellow traveller said “Why are you thanking him? You already paid the fare”. That shocked me! I also found very depressing the striking poverty of the country at the time. If I see a homeless person in Australia, I tend to buy them lunch. It was impossible to do that to all the poor people over there, and to me that very frustrating. In the end, I decided to return to Australia as I realised that I was missing the culture and the possibilities Australia offers if you work hard. Upon my return I did a marketing and sales certificate at TAFE and later worked in sales and at the airport.
I have always loved horses. In Ensenada, Argentina where I grew up we lived behind the Gaucho Cultural Centro (Gauchos are Argentina’s most skilled horsemen) where the traditions are taught and passed over generations. I saw how the horses were trained and I felt sorry for the them due to the way they were broken into. I believe maintaining a tradition just because it’s a tradition is not always a good thing. I was very lucky that my passion turned into a hobby and then the hobby turned into a career as I was able to continue working with horses. A race horse trainer saw me working a horse and asked me to work on his horse. I mentioned I wasn’t a trainer, but he said “I want you to work with my horse in the same way you are working with this one”. It was a horse that would throw off the jockeys and after 3 weeks working with him, he went on to win four races and was even sold to middle east. From then on, the word spread and opportunities started to appear. The Age newspaper featured me, and this helped to get more exposure on how passionate I am about schooling horses by establishing a sound foundation through understanding and trust, not force. With some odd jobs I saved enough to buy a property in Wallan, Victoria. After more people started looking for me to get recommendations on how to work with their horses I got a bigger place in Whittlesea and later moved to Kilmore where I currently live and have my business called “Whispering acres”. I give horsemanship lessons and clinics and I also train and retrain horses that may have developed behavioural issues from confusion, misunderstanding, fear or simply poor handling.
I am usually extremely busy. My job also involves travelling overseas and interstate. My wife Sue is very supportive of the work I do and we make sure to spend some quality time with the family and our cat.
Language – When I arrived, I did not speak a word of English. I recall thinking it was very funny and a bit strange the name of a restaurant called “Kentucky friend chicken”, it turns out it was fried not friend. With time I learnt the language; however, to this day, I still have a mild accent.
Credibility – When approaching the bank for a loan to buy property, they were hesitant as the risk to fund me was high. I was a one-man business (and a risky one) so if I had an injury there was no back up. I had to save money and build the business for a while before being able to have the initial deposit to obtain a loan.
Relationships - In both places we value the concept of “family” but in a slightly different way. Family is central in Latin America; elderly people play a special role in our large families and seem less lonely there than over here. On the other hand, there is always family drama in Latin America, precisely because everyone is always involved in everyone else’s business. Neighbours can be like family in Latin America, here neighbours tend to only mind their own business.
Celebrations - The first time we were invited to a BBQ we were expecting some sort of Argentinean roast. Turns out the overall cooking time for a BBQ here is 10 minutes: 5 minutes to cook the steak and another 5 minutes to get the salad out of the bag. A BBQ in Argentina is a big event. The meat is marinated with days in advance, cooked over 6 hours and enjoyed over a long lunch.
Helping hand - It is very common to see Australians giving a helping hand to people in need. Once, in Buenos Aires I saw an elderly blind person at a street corner. I crossed the street, but I noticed the person didn’t, so I crossed back to ask if she needed a hand. She said “you are obviously not from here, people rarely offer to help me”. As we were crossing the intersection, a taxi driver that was keen to turn a corner starter beeping and screaming “well done hero”; as if I had been stopping the traffic for an unworthy cause.
Piece of advice
Follow your dreams - Whatever your dream is, don’t lose sight of it and make sure you are not buried with unfulfilled dreams. Don’t follow the dollar figure attached to it but follow where your heart tells you that you will be the happiest. Have faith in yourself, otherwise, you will feel miserable.
Be patient - Circumstances change all the time and a situation doesn’t last forever. I recall working at a window factory drilling screws for endless hours. I kept telling myself “this is the stepping stone that will allow me to save enough money for the next step”. It may take sweat and tears, in my case more than 20 years of hard work and sacrifices, but it has been terribly rewarding.
Be proud of your background - Don’t forget where you come from - in our case Latin America. There will always be a connection with the place you come from. Be grateful of the perspective you have on life by having a different background to the country where you live. I thank God and life for the opportunities here and I’m proud to represent Latin American people wherever I go.
Carlos at Whispering Acres
In the next few years…
Carlos hopes God gives him good health to continue making a difference in the life of horses; and therefore, creating a positive change to this world. He wants to leave a positive mark for future generations.