About Lauren Sprieser

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So far Lauren Sprieser has created 332 blog entries.

In Praise Of The Schooling Show

By |2024-04-16T13:45:29-04:00April 16th, 2024|COTH Posts|

A million years ago, in a time of much healthier knees, I did triathlons. If you’ve never stood next to me, I’m 5’10” and built like a refrigerator, so when I tell you I did triathlons, I did them slowly, and I did the shortest distance class: a sprint, which is usually about a half-mile swim, 15-mile bike, and 3.1-mile run. I could do one in about two hours. Competition in these things is often by age group, but because I’m no pixie, I competed in something called the Athena division, for female athletes over 165 pounds. (Lest you were curious, the men’s division, for athletes over 200 pounds, is called the Clydesdale division.)

When you go to a local sprint-distance triathlon, you see all shapes and sizes. You see weekend warriors like me. You see the more ambitious amateur athletes, really going for it. And you’ll often see a few pros that are doing a little sprint to stay sharp, or begin a season, or test the waters recovering from an injury, or maybe just there to inspire their local triathlon club. There are prizes, pizza and beer at the end. It is an absolute hoot.

One of the many things I love about dressage is what I loved about local sprint-distance triathlons: There’s a level, and a competition, for everyone.

Read the rest at The Chronicle of the Horse!

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Go Where The Wisdom Is

By |2024-04-06T13:11:59-04:00April 3rd, 2024|COTH Posts|

Cadeau, my top horse, has weird feet. They’re small and a little upright, and like everything that comes from Europe, he struggled a bit to adjust to the concrete block that is the ground in a Virginia summer. One of the 10 million reasons I use my excellent farrier Sean Crocker is because he believes in the team approach: He listens to my also-excellent sports medicine veterinarian Dr. Cricket Russillo, and he listens to me when I tell him how the horses are going.

So when he said to me, “Sprieser, Cadeau’s feet are making me nervous, and I want to make sure I’m doing the best for him. Can we get a consult in Wellington with one of the best farriers on the planet?” of course I agreed.

I grew up far away from the equestrian centers of our country, finding my love for horses at local barns and then graduating to competing at the national levels. But I left for a reason, and that reason was that international-caliber training and horse management was much harder to find there. Going to college on the East Coast and spending time in elite-level barns there blew my young mind, because I didn’t even know how little I knew.

Read the rest at The Chronicle of the Horse!

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The Rider’s Training Pyramid

By |2024-04-06T13:09:13-04:00February 26th, 2024|COTH Posts|

Sometimes my team and I are really rolling, with lots of horses and humans showing and getting somewhere and grinding it out. Other times, the youngsters are all youngstering, and I didn’t book a lot of clinics in January and February because the weather usually stinks, and we’re mostly just logging miles and waiting for something to happen. This is one of those times. But it’s meant that I’ve had time—time to go and watch the warmup at the CDIs, time to get caught up on office work, and time to do some continuing education.

One of those opportunities was Lendon Gray’s Training4Teaching program, which offers free lectures by extremely credentialed people about teaching riders, a topic we don’t talk enough about in dressage. (We say lots about horse training, but not enough about human training.) In addition to some great pearls of wisdom from a whole panel of excellent instructors, Lendon also assigned us some homework: to develop a “Rider Training Scale” to mirror that which already exists for training the horse.

Read the rest at The Chronicle of the Horse!

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Strength In Numbers

By |2024-02-05T05:41:44-05:00February 5th, 2024|Greatest Hits, Snippets|

Horse ownership at any level is an expensive endeavor. There are shoes and shots and tack and hay, whether for the compassionate beginner’s teacher or the international superstar. But those international superstars have even bigger costs – FEI passports, CDI entries… the list goes on and on.

With one owner, bearing those costs is a tremendous burden. But syndication is an ownership model that spreads those costs over multiple owners. By combining the right legal legwork with your particular marketing skills, you can make being a part of a syndicate a fulfilling experience for your supporters, and get the help you need to achieve your competitive dreams.

I’ve assembled two successful syndicates, and now I’ve written a book on how to do it. From set-up to pitching potential owners, “Strength In Numbers” is a step-by-step guide to help you through the process.

Send me an email and I’ll send it to you as a PDF. It’s $20, and I take Zelle (lauren@spriesersporthorse.com) or Venmo (@lauren-sprieser).

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Broad Strokes

By |2024-02-04T05:19:31-05:00February 4th, 2024|Snippets|

Animal abuse is unacceptable, and those who commit it need to face serious consequences. Period. Hard stop.

My heart has broken watching the videos that came out this week of an Olympian – an OLYMPIAN – torturing horses, and hearing the stories of the mental abuse of the riders in his world as well. This, and the findings of the Operation X documentary about life at a prominent training farm in Denmark have me desperately, desperately afraid for our sport.

Because those farms clearly had a cultural institution of what is obviously animal cruelty. Wailing on horses with a whip, horses that are clearly not understanding what is being asked of them. A conversation between grooms about the best way to cover bloody spur marks so that the horses can be shown to potential buyers. These are easy things on which to draw the line, on which to say “this is absolutely not ok.”

But there’s a lot of things that experienced horsemen would completely understand, and the average muggle would not. Can you imagine why the non-horse-person would look askance at a chain lead shank over the nose of a horse that can get boisterous, even though we horse folks can clearly see it as an extra line of security when a 120-pound human leads a 1500-pound flight animal? Can you imagine seeing a six foot long whip, if you were a non horse person, and imagining the worst, even though such a device is a common tool to help tactfully and fairly teach piaffe from the ground? It’s long because horses are big, and we use it to touch the hind leg or top of the croup from a safe place, free of the kick zone, but the non-horsey don’t know that.

It’s why the broad-stroke social media comments like “The double bridle is torture” are really unhelpful. I saw that one recently. The double bridle is a tool. It can be used with tremendous tact and compassion. A snaffle is not inherently better, nor is a bitless bridle. I’ve seen plenty of ick riding in both. I’ve seen plenty of tactful use of spurs, just as I’ve seen plenty of ick use of them. And when we paint the internet with these broad strokes, we run the risk that the uneducated read them and perpetuate them. And that’s bad for sport.

Remember when the Modern Pentathlete had the rough go in 2021, and her coach reached through the fence and slapped the horse on the bum? The muggles lost their minds. The experienced horsemen of the world saw the unbelievably bad riding over pretty substantial fences, saw the horses that were TOTALLY unprepared for the job of taking beginner riders over big jumps, and saw how the horses were not allowed to be schooled by good riders to give them confidence in between rounds OR allowed to be pulled from the draw pool if they were starting to struggle, and thought… the open-palm slap is the thing the world is focused on?

This is the problem. The muggles don’t know enough to separate the real, honest-to-god horse abuse from the drivel. We should continue to have productive conversations about how best to do right by our animals, and we should ALL strive to live our lives as if a hidden camera is watching us do it. But we need to remember the consequences of MISGUIDED hysteria. Let’s talk about these things with level heads.

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Rooting For The Home Team—And The Homegrown

By |2024-01-20T13:21:14-05:00January 16th, 2024|COTH Posts|

We’ve all been reading about the sales of international Grand Prix horses to new riders lately because, in order to qualify for an Olympics under Fédération Equestre International rules, a horse has to have at least one owner of the same nationality as its rider by Jan. 15 of the Games year. That deadline was Monday, and many investors both in the U.S. and abroad have made major purchases in the past month or so to bolster their riders’ chances of securing an elusive team spot.

The people who sponsor riders are amazing, and we can’t be grateful enough to them. This is a wildly expensive sport no matter how one does it, and having help along the way is critical for those of us trying to do it, and do it well. Lessons, clinics, sales commissions—those are just so rarely enough to support a horse at the top levels, particularly if you have to take time off from that teaching/riding day job order to campaign that horse.

I hope that everyone who has acquired a finished Grand Prix horse for this year achieves their dreams, and has a long, sound and healthy relationship with that new horse. I hope our riders earn medals, and our fans are inspired by excellent horsemanship.

And I also hope that at least one will be riding a horse they made themself.

Read the rest at The Chronicle of the Horse!

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Deferred Maintenance

By |2023-11-28T13:29:36-05:00November 28th, 2023|COTH Posts|

In Lauren’s Magical Universe of Joy and Rainbows, when I sell a horse, I get to take all that money and go get a new horse or two. While I don’t do sales for a living, and I don’t buy horses with the goal of resale, sometimes the young horses I bring up the levels don’t get far enough up the levels, or don’t get me to my goal of big, hairy, international things, and that means they get to be schoolmasters for other people. And then I have a chunk of change in my hand.

And yes, I get to put some of that into whatever critter comes next. But unfortunately, adulting is a thing too. So at least some of those funds need to go to other things. Let me introduce you all to my annoying friend, Deferred Maintenance.

Read the rest at The Chronicle of the Horse!

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