IE University architecture student Mar Morris is passionate about horses and is training to become an expert on the big screen.
Triana was a skittish mare. They had brought her here because she wasn’t useful for bullfighting. She had been traumatized and recoiled at human touch. She approached the stables where Triana was standing, distrustful, in a dark corner. Slowly, but confidently, Mar Morris Viaji, used to being in contact with horses since she was five, touched the mare’s neck, stroked her beautiful mane, her forehead, and her soft muzzle with her fingers… The animal’s noble eyes lit up softly, like a candle, and Triana, despite her aggressive nature, recovered, in that moment, the trust she had lost in humans. There was a connection, a mutual respect between horse and rider, and more than anything, an understanding, which they still have today.
Foto by: Roberto Arribas
Mar Morris, an architecture student at IE University, admits, with a wide grin, that Triana is now her favorite mare. She has participated in several national competitions with her and has come in fourth place in Spain in Pole Bending, a competition based on the time horse and rider take to wind around a serpentine path of six poles fixed in the ground.
The life of this 22-year-old Canarian, studying architecture in Segovia, revolves in large part around horses, an animal that she has been fascinated by since she was very young. Her parents, aware of this overwhelming love, started taking Mar Morris to riding lessons as a child. They couldn’t have done better. Today, the young Canarian is a solid competition horse trainer.
After years of training, Mar Morris now favors Western riding, a riding style that has evolved from American ranchers. It is a mixture of styles designed to meet the needs of working cowboys in the American West. Mar Morris has been an expert in this style of riding for some years now, and she has practiced several of its forms, including Barrel Racing, Cow Horse, and the aforementioned Pole Bending. Triana the mare doesn’t have to face bulls anymore; now she’s up against the unforgiving stopwatch of the judges and some uncomfortable obstacles, but it seems to be going well for her.
Now, Mar Morris is training to become a trainer of specialized horse actors. “I’ve been training horses for film for two years. We train them to execute whatever the script dictates, whether it’s shooting a war scene, or a medieval joust, for example,” says the young Canarian, who adds that “training a horse to shoot a scene is a lot of work; I try to get the animal to respond to the rider when he shoots a bow and arrow or stands on its back… we also train them to turn or roll over.”
Recently, Mar Morris has ridden and trained horses that have appeared on several successful TV shows, such as La que se avecina, and various commercials. “I would like to be in movies, but unfortunately there aren’t a lot of women riders in war scenes; most of the specialists are guys,” she says with some resignation.
Mar Morris goes to Madrid every once in a while to continue training and to keep contact with horses. In Segovia, she’s in her fifth year of architecture, a technical degree. She lives in the historic center of the city, where she is comfortable because “life in Segovia is very easy.” Before coming to IE University, Mar Morris had the opportunity to study at the best universities in London. But she opted to study architecture at IE instead because of “its complete program of internships abroad.” At IE, Mar Morris has been able to intern with people like Eva Jiricna, the prestigious Czech architect and designer, in London. She has also participated in an exchange program with the University of Technology Sydney (Australia).
“I don’t see myself as a salaried architect working in a studio, but rather as an entrepreneur tackling projects that combine my professional training with my passion for sports,” Mar Morris emphasizes. Among her hobbies, the IE University student highlights surfing as another one of her true passions. She is a certified national surf coach and whenever possible, she travels to Loredo (Cantabria) to surf and give classes.
“What do you see yourself doing in the future?” I ask her. Mar Morris doesn’t hesitate: “I’d like to start my own business. It would be a place located between the ocean and the mountains, designed and planned by myself as an architect, where in addition to being able to stay with your horse, you could practice and learn other sports, like surfing, for example,” she says.
Mar Morris will dedicate a lot of time studying in the coming year. Starting in January she’ll dive into her final project in architecture. By mid-July, the young Canarian is set to graduate. If time allows, she’ll move to Madrid to train horses and then go to the North of Spain to continue surfing and teaching.
The story of Mar Morris is the story of a young woman who accomplishes whatever she puts her mind to. Her recipe: put passion into what you do. Triana is no longer a broken, fearful horse. She found the perfect trainer in Mar Morris, a true lover of horses, one of the most beautiful, noble, and fascinating animals that exist.