About Lauren Sprieser

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So far Lauren Sprieser has created 313 blog entries.

A Week In The Life: A European Horse-Shopping Trip

By |2023-04-30T12:13:37-04:00April 11th, 2023|COTH Posts|

This winter, I sold my top Grand Prix horse, Guernsey Elvis, who was owned by an amazing syndicate of supporters. Nearly all of them wanted to continue the partnership and invest in another horse for me to bring up the levels. While I always exhaust my American contacts first, the reality of shopping for international-caliber horses is that our European friends make more of them than we do here in the United States—and in countries that are much smaller than ours—so shopping in Europe is often more efficient. Add in that U.S. horse prices are still really pretty wild at the high end. So I recently found myself in the fortunate position of organizing an adventure to Denmark—my first in the several years since the pandemic paused easy travel—guided by my friends and agents of the past 15 years, Babsi Neidhardt-Clark and Martha Thomas.

I prefer to be guided by an agent rather than try to wing it myself, so for this trip, I gave Babsi and Martha a price-point ceiling and a general type: 6-8 years old with a flying change, big enough for my 5’10” self and keen but not totally feral. Then we picked a week where I could get away from my day job, booked tickets to Denmark, and off I went!

Read the rest at The Chronicle of the Horse!

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Just Lucky, I Guess

By |2023-03-29T05:21:51-04:00March 29th, 2023|COTH Posts|

I went to groom for Carol Lavell when I was 22. I had done Young Riders, I had done the U25 Championships, and I thought I was quite the fancy thing. She offered me cash, which I took, of course, but I also asked for two lessons a week to be included in my salary. In my first lesson, I brought my Grand Prix horse. Carol and I worked on steering, mostly at the walk, because she said I didn’t know how, and how could I move on to the big things until I could turn at the walk?

Humbling, to say the least. Carol had that tough, no-nonsense New England way about her, too. While she was never mean, she certainly did not give a whole lot of a damn about my feelings. We got along swimmingly because, little egotistical thing that I was, I was still a good soldier, and I think Carol appreciated that about me, because soon not only did I get to ride my own horses in my own lessons, but I got to ride some of her young horses as well.

Her lessons were intense. Carol was a true genius, which meant that her brain operated at a rate of speed that even my fairly bright one could hardly keep up with. She was extremely thorough in all things, including the precise order and manner in which she wanted her horses groomed and tacked, and that she wanted her day to flow. That precision, that thoughtfulness behind everything she did, were really my first lessons in care at the international level, and I’ve held to some of those ideas in the barn still today.

Read the rest at The Chronicle of the Horse.

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By |2023-03-07T11:47:33-05:00March 7th, 2023|COTH Posts|

Four years ago last month, Facebook reminded me, was Elvis’ debut into the American dressage world: We’d been selected to ride in a master class with the legendary Isabell Werth. He went in the ring second in a long list of fabulous horses, following a fantastic youngster from Helgstrand, and succeeded by more experienced horses with bigger gaits.

That night, we demonstrated the correctness of his development, his confidence in a big environment and his terrific heart, in that I could put into him the power and expression—still in small doses as he was not yet 8—that I’d felt the day I met him. We demonstrated that day that there was more to Elvis, a little brown horse of common breeding, than met the eye.

Read the rest at The Chronicle of the Horse!

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Stop Prioritizing Emotion Over Evidence On Social Media

By |2023-03-04T12:09:13-05:00February 28th, 2023|COTH Posts|

At January’s U.S. Equestrian Federation Annual Meeting, participants talked extensively about “social license to operate.” The phrase refers to how the world views something, and whether people consider it acceptable in modern society. Google tells me the term originally developed in reference to extraction of natural resources—mining, an industry that is certainly plagued with environmental and human rights problems, and drilling for fossil fuels, for example.

But for sure it’s on our doorstep in the horse industry. And as I read the Chronicle’s coverage of the USEF meeting, I read this quote: “We might think racing and dressage are light years apart, but to most of the general public it’s horse sport,” according to equine behaviorist Dr. Camie Heleski. “For them there’s no difference between an FEI-regulated sport and a non-FEI-regulated sport.

And the killer: “The public prioritizes emotion over evidence.”

Read the rest at The Chronicle of the Horse!

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The Wonderful Mr. Wofford

By |2023-02-03T05:18:27-05:00February 3rd, 2023|Snippets|

I didn’t know Jimmy Wofford long, nor did I know him well. But from our first meeting he dazzled me with his tremendous respect for the horse and for horsemen. He treated me, a nobody dressage trainer from Nowhereland, like a peer. He was quick to help, and earnest in his passion for helping horses be their best. And he was so tremendously proud of his charges.

We’d met a few times before I reached out to him two years ago to talk fitness with Elvis, a horse who’d always felt to me like he would muscularly burn out. Jimmy took time out of his busy life to take me through a conditioning program, and then again through his thoughts on downtime, that changed our lives, and allowed Elvis to become a Grand Prix horse.

I kept Jimmy updated on Elvis’s adventures, and we playfully called him “his dressage horse.” He always had a kind word (even about a sport he claimed to not understand), and I’m so sad they never got to meet.

He was a joyous person, respectful and brilliant, and yet always with a twinkle in his eye. One of our last interactions was this one, after I’d bitten it off a young horse I had in training with a friend who runs out of Fox Covert, the Wofford family farm:

I hope Jimmy’s friends and family find comfort and peace. May we all live a life so highly regarded, and be so universally loved.

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The New Year Is An Opportunity For Change

By |2023-01-30T06:07:37-05:00January 18th, 2023|COTH Posts|

What a long strange trip it’s been, 2022. In all things with horses, we plan, and God laughs, so it’s never really a shocker to me when whatever the plan was in January stops being the plan about 837 times before the year’s end. Add in a pandemic coming to a… well, “end” isn’t quite right, but at least a new phase—plus an economic boom, an economic bust, life, death, losing a work wife and gaining a husband, and it’s been a year for the books.

It’s all left me in a place of opportunity, a place to make some changes in how I do things. As I’ve gotten older, I’m just a little less scared by the changes, the departures, the surprises. I now see them more as exciting moments for growth rather than calamities. It doesn’t make them easy, but I’m getting better at it.

Read the rest at The Chronicle of the Horse!

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Toughen Up or Soften Up? Striking A Balance In Equine Hiring

By |2023-01-30T06:09:51-05:00December 19th, 2022|COTH Posts|

There’s a real hiring crisis right now, and it’s across all industries, not just ours. The COVID pandemic has been unkind on so many fronts. To me, we’ve got two problems. One is about the expectations of those who think they want to work in the horse industry, about what a day, a week, a year in the life looks like. And the other is a serious problem with our industry and how we shape our business models.

Let’s begin with the latter. Most equine businesses rely on less skilled, less trained workers to do the unsexy parts of horse care: stall mucking, barn cleaning, schlepping through the mud and the heat and the flies. For some, that’s low-cost labor in the form of paid grooms. But for others, that’s working students, those interns who are paid few (or sometimes even no) dollars but gain experience and resume line-items that help them climb the ladder to better-paying jobs within the industry.

Read the rest at The Chronicle of the Horse!

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Holiday Gift Guide for Horse Folks

By |2022-11-21T07:32:36-05:00November 21st, 2022|Snippets|

Tis the season – the season where many people are thinking about holiday gifts for their dedicated barn staff, horsey caretakers, and equine enthusiasts. Here are a few great gifts for the horse person in your life – professionals, amateurs, and youth riders alike.

1. A Ride iQ membership. Ride iQ is a revolutionary app that provides audio lessons on a huge range of subjects – dressage, jump work, ground work, sports psychology for riders, fitness, and more. Members get real-time instruction from some of the best in the business (including me!), plus access to an awesome Facebook group for members, some terrific podcasts, and more.

2. Fir-Tech goodies for horses and riders. Fir-Tech is a ceramic fiber from Catago, and is of similar quality to other similar products from other brands, but at way better pricing. I particularly love Elvis’s Stable Boots at horse shows when he’s not able to get the same amount of turnout as he does at home, and the Neck Brace for me. It’s great for when I’m a little stiff… which never happens, obviously, as a professional rider…

3. Kingsley Boots. Kingsley came to me four years ago and wanted me to try their boots. I’d been a longtime proponent of another prominent German riding boot, but the Kingsleys had me at hello, with their stiff exterior but remarkably short break-in time, their custom fit, and their many many fun options (even though I’m their most boring rider and my boots are rarely all that exciting). I just retired my pair of everyday boots after FOUR YEARS – an incredible run for a pro! I think everything Kingsley makes is wonderful, but I’m a huge fan of their fleece lining, which they can put into any of their boots, including these stunning work boots.

4. Roeckl Gloves. I live in Roeckl Gloves year-round, because they’re hard to kill… and lord knows I try. Much of the year I’m in the Madrid, but my winter favorite is the Winter Roeckl Grip. They’re warm enough for winter riding but thin enough that I’m not burdened by bulk.

5. The Mantra bangle. Everything from Swanky Saddle is gorgeous, but I particularly love these Mantra Bangles, especially the GRIT one – my fav, and based on my cool tattoo! And they’re on clearance right now, so go get ’em.

6. The Neue Schule Turtle Top Snaffle. What I really want everyone to do is bring in my friend Stephanie Brown Beamer for a bit fitting, but she’s one person, and she can’t be everywhere. But riding in a quality bit that fits well is a great start, and this is my workhorse bit. Almost everything in my life is going in a version of it, so it’s as close to a sure thing as exists. By the way, you’re probably riding in a bit that’s too bit as well – even Rowan, the 100% Irish Draught in my life, goes in a M. You just do not need a 6″ bit, friends, it’s not possible.

7. A Pivo. I first bought a Pivo to record my rides for my own review, and it gets a solid B at that job – easy set up, holds a charge well, but every now and then does this Exorcist thing where it spins around and loses me. But the real superpower of the Pivo is its virtual lesson capacity, because the instructor can take over the robot. It’s so easy (I’ve been meaning to make a video for social media on how I do it, and I’ve just been slammed; hopefully this will light a fire under my ass to get it done), the lesson hosting system is free to use, and they’re on sale for 50% off right now.

8. The Pro Lite Multi Riser half pad. Why not wear a shock absorbing saddle pad when you ride, and protect your horse’s back? This is my favorite because the pockets for shims allow me to get creative and extend the fit of my saddles as my young horses develop and change. Every horse, every day!

9. OneK Avance with MIPS. Do me a favor and check the date on your helmet. If it’s older than 3 years, time to get a new one. If you don’t know how old it is, time to get a new one. If you’ve bonked your head in it, it’s REALLY time to get a new one. And frankly, if it’s not a MIPS, it’s time to get a new one. MIPS technology is really worth the investment, because it’s so superior in its protection to a traditional ASTM hat, and the OneKs are such great bang for your buck. I like the Avance for its sun protection, and you can also customize your helmet with some great color pieces.

10. A gift card for a car detailing. Horse girl cars are… something else. A nice detailing is such an incredible gift, and it’s something certainly we horse pros never do for ourselves!

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