About Lauren Sprieser

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So far Lauren Sprieser has created 251 blog entries.

8 Things That Make Me Crazy

By |2021-05-25T13:56:18-04:00May 28th, 2021|Snippets|

Here’s a list of things that make me nutsy. Most aren’t actual crimes, they’re just Lauren crimes. But crimes they are, in my mind, so spare my delicate sensibilities and don’t do them in my presence.

1. White ear bonnets. Just… don’t. It’s a FLASHING NEON SIGN drawing the eye of all – including the judge – to any moments of imperfection in the contact or self-carriage your horse may have. (Unless your horse is gray, obviously.)

2. Dirty bits. You should clean at LEAST your bridles and girths daily, and as part of bridle cleaning, you need to clean the bits. The goo that comes out of your horse’s mouth during work is bad for leather, and then hardens and gets icky when you have to put it back in your horse’s mouth. Water, a towel, and a little elbow grease. You can do it.

3. People who do it wrong the same way over and over. Whatever “it” is, in your lessons, make a new mistake. A fair amount of my annual income is spent repeating myself, so this is really against my financial interest to fix in humanity, but it can be rather annoying. Don’t worry about whether you’ll fail or not; just fail different. That’s how you figure out where the right answer is!

4. Hand walking around the arena at shows. You can’t see through your horse’s head, so you’re going to walk your horse in front of me. And either you’re nervous, in which case you should walk yourself around the arena and leave your poor horse alone in front of his fan with some hay, or your horse is a wing nut, in which case you’re going to cause a ruckus for those who are riding. Lunge it, get a trainer to ride it, something, but hand walking around the show ring is a good way to get someone hurt.

5. People who park badly at shows. In the parking lot, take your time and do it right. Others have to share that space with you. If you don’t know how to drive your trailer backwards, don’t drive it to the show until you do. And when you’re loading or unloading, do your best to not be a tool and block access into or around the barn. Easier said than done at some horse shows, but it’s better that you have to walk a bit than that you make everyone else’s life harder.

6. People who bitch at ring stewards, or rely on them to be their brains. Ring stewards are almost always volunteers, and sometimes they’re relatively new to the sport. Check in when you show up. Ask who you follow. Ask if the ring is on time. And then be a responsible adult and pay attention to what’s going on. The ring steward is not your mommy; it’s up to you to get yourself into the ring on time.

7. Nosebands that aren’t level. Cavessons need to be parallel to the ground, not up on one side and down on the other, but more importantly they need to be level from front of nose to back. If your flash is pulling your noseband down, your bridle isn’t the right size. Get some help in getting the right gear, because the wrong gear is both ineffective and uncomfortable for your horse.

8. Test readers. Memorize! Using a reader is like failing an open-book test. You have the answers in advance! And if you’re relying on a reader, you’re riding the moment, rather than riding the moment ten steps from now. You will score better when you know where you’re going.

Three Superpowers I Want

By |2021-05-11T10:08:51-04:00May 14th, 2021|Snippets|

Invisibility? Nah. Super speed? Only if it came with Super Strength, so I could just carry horses in from the field in the mornings. But there’s three superpowers I would definitely take, if made available.

  1. The ability to know whose damn wraps these are. Hey, guys? Whose wraps are these? They’re navy. I can’t read the initials that someone wrote onto them with Sharpie two wash cycles ago. I think they’re the SmartPak ones? Not the Dover ones? The velcro looks the same. Do they have a corner cut out of them? Which corner? Who is the one who cuts the corners out of their wraps? Is that me, or is that someone else? Oh, do they have initials embroidered on them? Crap, they do, but they’re on the velcro, so I’m not going to see it until I’ve already wrapped someone else’s horse in them. … see why I want this superpower? Life would be easier.
  2. The ability to make anything clean and waterproof at the touch of my hand. Like Midas, turning anything he touches to gold, I’d like to be able to pick up the ten-year-old turnout sheet and – voila! – good as new. White polos? Done! Show pads and white breeches? Like magic, and Scotchguarded for easy stain removal the next time!
  3. Lastly, and I hope this can be taken in the spirit in which it is intended, the ability to be a human electric fence, at a distance. Stop touching each other, horses next to each other in the field playing bitey-face, six paddocks away! Stop pawing on the crossties, bitch mare at the other end of the aisle! COME WHEN CALLED, GEORGIA THE DOG! And maybe, just maybe, HEY STUDENT, STOP LOOKING DOWN! Not enough of a shock to cause pain, just enough to say HEY!

Like Snippets? Sign up for the Sprieser Sporthorse Elite Club, where you’ll get even more monthly goodies, training tips, and a peek behind the scenes in the development of horses from foal to FEI. Click to learn more!

The Things I Carry

By |2021-04-23T05:58:04-04:00April 23rd, 2021|Snippets|

I have a coat bag – in my farm colors, brown and blue – that I’ve been schlepping around with me for more than a decade. It had to be a custom order, because I’m so tall that standard size bags scrunch my tails up at the bottom. And over the years, I’ve collected a few things that I carry with me to shows. I’m not a superstitious person, but they’re little mementos that help me remember what’s important, and think of a few old friends.

– tail hair bracelets from a few special horses. Whether they’ve moved on from me or just moved on, I have a collection of bracelets from Pony Locks that come with me. Bellinger, Clairvoya, Victorious, Stratocaster, Ellegria and Danny Ocean are all represented, and I like to think that they come with me (and, for a few of them, heckle me) down the centerline.

– a buckeye. One of my dearest former students gave me a buckeye nut from a tree in her family’s back yard. It’s supposed to bring luck; I like it because it reminds me of a fun kid, and the times we shared.

– a stock tie pin made by another former student. Sometimes I wear it, and sometimes it just travels with me, but it’s incredibly beautiful, an oversized pin with a collection of blue beads, and it also reminds me of how long I’ve been doing this, because the maker was one of my first students.

– a rubber duck. A friend of mine gave me the duck at my last NAYRC (2005!); she called it my lucky duck, which it may be, but it also makes me think of days gone by, and how far I’ve come.

– a little elephant figurine. The elephant itself is meaningless, but it was inside a bag of things that were given to me after my amazing student and friend Beverley Thomas’ passing last year, and carrying it is like carrying a little talisman from her.

There’s also an assortment of safety pins, mascara, sunscreen and a sewing kit in case of disasters, plus at least three emergency pairs of semi-retired Roeckl white gloves. But they’re not as poetic as the keepsakes!

Homecoming, a once-in-a-lifetime lease opportunity, and more – April e-Newsletter

By |2021-04-09T05:28:48-04:00April 9th, 2021|News & Events|

It’s T-minus two weeks until we’re back up and running in full swing at our Virginia facility, and we couldn’t be more excited about what’s on our event horizon! Our Florida contingent has had an incredible winter, and our Virginia team made the most of our fabulous facilities to be ready for the Spring competition season and beyond. Read all about it in our April e-newsletter, and sign up to receive it directly in your inbox!

Sale Ad Translations

By |2021-04-09T05:21:46-04:00April 9th, 2021|Snippets|

One of the many hats I wear is matchmaker, helping my clients find horses. That means a lot of reading sale ads, and over my years, I’ve developed a little dictionary, to translate into normal people speak. Here are a few of the entries. (And if you’re lacking a sense of humor, I’d stop reading, right now.)

Well-bred prospect for any discipline! = but not good at any of them. This is the branch of the family tree that needed to be pruned.

Hunter or dressage prospect = moves like a Dodge Dart but I’m hoping you won’t notice because Donnerhall is in it’s pedigree.

Competed to 3* but selling as a dressage horse = lame.

Competed to 3* but selling as a jumper = feral.

Competed to Second Level but selling as a hunter = fat, pretty and with hind legs so far out behind it couldn’t change clean if it’s life depended on it.

Competed to Second Level but selling as an eventer = feral.

Competed to 1.30 but selling as a dressage horse = lame AND slow.

Competed to 1.30 but selling as a hunter = lame, fat AND slow.

Competed as a hunter but selling as a dressage horse = clean up on aisle 4.

Has papers from the Friesian Heritage Horse Association = at least half Percheron.

Has papers from the International Dutch Harness Horse Association = at least half Standardbred.

This unexpected breeding… = goddamn 2-year-old colt jumped the fence and bred a lesson horse.

This unexpected line breeding… = goddamn 2-year-old colt jumped the fence and bred his sister.

Serious inquiries only = expensive.

To a loving home only = I’m going to email you every week to ask how Fluffy is doing.

To a competition home only = needs to stay in training or it’ll eat you

For the ambitious amateur, Jr/YR or pro = hope you have a half halt or you’re going to be paint on the train.

Many in-hand successes! = thank god it’s pretty, because it moves like a Jack Russell Terrier on linoleum.

Outgrown by his amateur owner = amateur owner found out having to kick every stride is a bummer.

Schooling First Level = leg yields are harrrrrd.

Schooling Third Level = changes are harrrrrd.

Schooling Fourth Level = First Level horse with a clean change that defies explanation, but will probably high-ho silver if you half halt.

Schooling Grand Prix = will jiggle out hacking when his buddy leaves.

Bombproof = hope you can kick really hard.

Athletic = hope you can pull really hard.

A Unicorn! = can’t afford it.

World Class! = either can’t afford it, or it trots for a 5, and the seller should probably spend more time on YouTube.

Legs, Legs, Legs

By |2021-04-07T16:05:27-04:00March 17th, 2021|News & Events|

For those who’ve never been, south Florida is… gross. It’s warm and soggy all the time, there’s a lot of microbes in the soil, and land is a gajillion dollars so turnout is small and sandy. It’s a recipe for some challenges with my horses’ skin, and leg skin in general, being close to the ground, and often wearing boots while sweating. But ten winters down here has given me some tools. Here are my favorites right now.

1. A neoprene boot for working. I have been working with Veredus for many years, since Ellegria – who had the market cornered on weird leg and skin issues – went in the old Piaffe Evo boots successfully. They have a new dressage boot I’m eager to meet, but I work my guys in their TRC Vento Sport boots. (A note – I use them backwards, because they’re double Velcroed, and I prefer that the Velcro that pulls the boot snug goes from front to back, not back to front, which is how the boots are made.)

Why neoprene? They’re easy to CLEAN. I just hose them off after each ride, blasting them with the most powerful setting on my hose, and hang to dry. It gets the sand and the ick out, so it can’t linger and potentially grind up my horses’ skin when they work, like a fleece lined boot can.

2. Clean and dry. Good general policy, of course, but particularly in a tough climate, the leg has to be clean, and it has to be dry. I curry legs as part of the normal grooming process, and then once they’ve worked, they get hosed off, shampooed if need be, and then DRIED with a towel. If they’ve got a skin thing rolling, I really like Zephyr’s Garden’s Leave It Be shampoo, or if it’s really fungusy, a mixture of two different human acne products, one with Salicylic Acid, one with Benzoyl Peroxide. Make sure neither has anything scrubby in it like a microbead to further aggravate skin.

And dry, dry, dry. If I have a horse who goes in standing wraps (more on that in a moment!), I’ll apply baby powder to the leg before they get wrapped, to make sure that sucker is REALLY dry under the wraps.

3. Standing wraps from Winderen. I got sent some fun Winderen goodies to try, and was impressed by the quality of all, but I was SUUUUUPER impressed by their standing wrap. I was skeptical – everyone thinks they’ve built a better mousetrap, right? – but these guys really are quite cool. First, they’re thermoregulative, like products from other companies with ceramic fiber technology that we really like, but find to be either too poofy to be easy to wrap, or come in an “easy boot” that is easy, but doesn’t hold up to daily use.

They’ve also got a silver lining, and silver is anti microbial. Super happy news for Florida’s general funk level. And lastly, they’ve got a slightly slippery exterior, which means its easy for shavings to slide off them, rather than stick.

Puck, who is both giant and white legged, tends to get stocky when he doesn’t get turned out overnight (i.e. all winter long in Florida), so he lives in wraps overnight. I’ve had a pair of Quick Wraps from Back On Track for a while, and he just beats the crap out of them; we’ve gone through several pairs (and it’s not just Puck being a menace – other horses in my life have experienced the same thing). So the Winderen ones came, and while admittedly they were quite poofy on the first use, they quickly deflated to be manageable, and I’m hella impressed. They don’t slide around, they don’t get as dirty (and Puck is a pigpen, so that’s something), and I really do think that they keep his legs less stocky than the Back On Track product.

So there it is: clean, dry, and good support products. And of course, veterinary care if you have a real issue. But we’ve been able to keep most of the creepy cruddies at bay with a good grooming protocol, and the right gear for the job!

Assorted Training Metaphors & Similes

By |2021-04-07T16:03:54-04:00March 6th, 2021|Snippets|

Fender, one of Lauren Sprieser's dressage horsesA few neat training metaphors I’ve either made up myself or shamelessly stolen from others. If I could draw, I’d draw these, but I can’t, so instead you get my words. Enjoy.

– a horse’s body is like a garden hose, with the power coming from the spigot that is the horse’s hind legs. Through training, the horse develops an increasingly sophisticated nozzle at the front that allows for the release of energy – water. A green horse just has a simple pressure nozzle at the front, with only one functionality; by the time a horse is a Grand Prix horse, he has a cone function, a jet function, a shower function, a mist function… you get it. But a fancy nozzle can’t make up for a horse who isn’t totally through, because that’s like a hole in the hose; it doesn’t matter how many cool functions there are for the release of energy if the water is sneaking out the middle of the hose.

– a horse should hold his head and neck like he’s peering off a cliff. He should arch his neck and back up and out, so he can see, but still keep his mass leaning a bit backwards, so he doesn’t fall on the forehand and out over the cliff.

– riding the piaffe should feel like you’re in a hallway full of doors, and there’s a stranger walking towards you. If all the doors are closed, your anxiety level goes up, because if the stranger means trouble, you have no way to flee. But if the doors are open, you’ve got an escape route, even if you don’t need it.

– the lower leg, ankle and spur on a trained horse don’t mean go; they means lift. So your lower leg wraps around him like Spanx, and draws his belly into his spine.

– a downward transition is like downshifting a manual transmission car. Just as you keep your foot on the accelerator, so you can go forward as soon as you shift gears, you should keep driving your horse forward even as you drop a gait. Going down gaits doesn’t mean slowing down; the gait should still think forward.

Like Snippets? Sign up for the Sprieser Sporthorse Elite Club, where you’ll get even more monthly goodies, training tips, and a peek behind the scenes in the development of horses from foal to FEI. Click to learn more!

Advice for the Young and Talented: Don’t Settle Down Just Yet

By |2021-04-07T16:02:39-04:00March 4th, 2021|Tips & Tricks|

There’s a kid I see pop up on my social media from time to time. She starts young horses and then sells them, which is why I see her posts. The horses are always well groomed and ridden and presented tactfully. The videos are well put together. The text on her ads is articulate and correct. And that’s all well and good, but the part that stands out is that this kid can RIDE. She’s clearly bold. She sits. She puts her leg on. She’s the kind of rider I want a million of for my own barn, and she’s young and driven and, according to her website, hungry for excellence at the international level one day.

She’s also in a part of the country without good access to coaching. She’s ridden a lot of sketchy stuff. She’s got her own business, where I’m sure she also has to ride a lot of scary things, including some stuff that more established trainers could pass on. Kids like her are often the trainer of last resort, or (because they’re cheap) the trainer that owners of rank horses send their scary stuff to.

And I wish that someone would take this kid aside, and tell her this: you have so, so much going for you. Your potential is tremendous. And under no circumstances will it be fulfilled being a trainer of rogue wingnuts, or a teacher of inexpensive lessons. Get out now, and get into the barn of a solid professional, while you are still young and relatively unrestrained by spouses and children and mortgages.

Read the rest at NoelleFloyd.com!

Some Hot Weather Favorites

By |2021-04-07T16:00:58-04:00February 25th, 2021|Snippets|

I know it’s impolite to whine about the weather in South Florida right now, while the rest of the country is Ice Station Zero, but it’s really been quite hot in Wellington. Here’s a few products I can’t live without at the moment, when the high temperatures are keeping me and my horses sweaty and gross most of the day.

 

 

– my new OneK Avance CCS helmet. The science on the MIPS system is quite incredible, and they are dramatically safer. But other MIPS helmets I’ve tried have either looked big and bulky and absurd, or they’ve not fit well. My OneK CCs fits like a glove, and still looks neat and trim. The Avance model has a wide brim, to help keep the sun out of my eyes. And the CCS style means you can tart up your hat with some fun colors! Like all OneKs, this one has a removable liner, so you can wash it when your head gets stinky.

– Zephyr’s Garden Summer Spray Plus. Florida is… gross. Skin crud is a constant battle here, and the Ph of the apple cider vinegar, plus the herb blend in the summer spray, help keep my horses’ skin healthy and comfortable even in the icky, sweaty heat of Florida. It also smells great, and helps keep flies away.

– Romfh full grip breeches. I love a few different styles – the Isabella is high waisted, the Sarafina is medium waisted, and the Sarafina Bling is… well, sparkly, of course! But what they all have in common is the full grip seat, a silicone pattern, rather than the traditional full suede seat. The silicone provides the same grip as a traditional full seat, but in hot weather, I like the breathability of the silicone grip. It allows for better airflow… anywhere you might need air to flow. Just saying’.

– this cold brew coffee pot. I’m one of those people that sometimes needs a 1p wake up call, but hot coffee on a sweaty day is just not my favorite thing. This bad boy is my go-to, and if I use a flavored coffee, I can even do cold brew black, or close to black, because it’s just a little less bitter than traditionally brewed brew.

– my Roeckl Madrid gloves. I love all my Roeckl gloves, but in the heat, my Madrids are my favorites. They have a mesh-ier back, so they breathe a little better, and dry a little faster, than my other favorites, the Roeckl Grips.

The Young Horse Search`

By |2021-04-07T16:01:54-04:00February 18th, 2021|Tips & Tricks|

You’ve got the space in your barn, you’ve saved up a reasonable budget, and your current string is all old enough and civilized enough that it’s time to begin again. The search is on for a young horse.

You start with the obvious sources: breeders and trainers of young horses. You make your phone calls. You watch videos. You talk to the riders. You know what you’re looking for, the qualities you like and don’t like, the bloodlines you’ve been successful with before, your height requirements, what you will and will not tolerate. You want good feet. You want good X-rays, including neck and back. The veterinary bar is high because if, in a few years, you identify that the horse isn’t going to be what you need it to be, it has to be sellable to someone else. That pre-purchase exam is going to run you $3,500, give or take, so you factor that in, and off you go.

Read the rest at The Chronicle of the Horse!

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