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So far Lauren Sprieser has created 306 blog entries.

When A Trainer Says They’ve Done It, Check Them Out

By |2022-06-26T17:25:04-04:00June 26th, 2022|COTH Posts|

There are many factors to consider when looking for a coach. The person must be a good personality fit and offer lessons and coaching in a style that suits your learning type. They need to be logistically convenient, either in a location that’s easy for you to get to, or with technology that makes virtual coaching possible. But at the end of the day, the most important thing is that they can do the job you need them to do: bring horses up to the level you want your horse brought up to, and bring humans up to the level you want to be brought up to. 

To pick a coach, you’ll want to watch them teach and ride, speak to their students, ask for references. But you can also use technology to do a little dressage credit-checking. So let’s talk about how to verify a trainer’s credentials.

Read the rest at The Chronicle of the Horse!

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Barn Tech, Summer 2022 Edition

By |2022-06-01T13:49:44-04:00June 1st, 2022|Snippets|

Technology is all over the horse world now – new and better vet diagnostics and treatments, virtual lessons, wearables; you name it, and someone’s trying to make it, or improve it, with modern tech. Here at Sprieser Sporthorse we use all sorts of great tech to make our lives run easier, and here are a few of my favorite things this year.

In The Barn: Horse Report System 

We run a HUGE program, with as many as 24 horses in full training at any particular time, some long term and some short, and in two locations – Virginia and Florida. It’s a huge amount of cats to herd, and so having all our horse health records in one spot, accessible from anywhere in the world, is critical. But we’ve used every barn management system in existence and found them all to have problems and challenges.

Then we were introduced last year to Horse Report System. Initial set up of each horse takes time, of course, but not nearly as much time as other systems have taken us. And once the horse is in the system, it’s a breeze. We can bulk-add appointments like vaccines and dewormer, make notes about what vet work was done to each horse and when with just a few clicks, and not only upload receipts and vet notes but also search them by keyword.

And there’s SO many functionalities, way more than we use in our program. Users can make notes on each horse’s workouts, upload test or show results, even see a horse or stable’s activity in calendar form (a great way for looking at the big picture!)

We just love it, and there’s a 30-day free trial you can take advantage of. We use HRS all the time, especially because it’s a great way to organize our documents, like our before and after photos, as well as the docs we need at horse shows like coggins and vaccination reports. Speaking of…

At The Shows: Horse Show Office

COVID made us all turn to online-only show entry systems. That’s great, but the systems that are unwieldy or, even worse, charge a substantial fee to use them? Utter nonsense. Kevin Bradbury’s Horse Show Office is by far the best option I’ve used to enter recognized shows. I don’t need to have an account set up; I can just enter my horse’s USDF number and I’m halfway home. Uploading coggins, signature pages, etc is a breeze. And I’ve yet to pay a fee, probably because I can pay by e-check or PayPal rather than having to use a credit card (and forcing a 3% fee on someone).

From show management’s perspective, I’m told by the best organizers in the business that HSO is also vastly superior to anything else out there, and I’m sure it’s a relief for organizers to be able to just use one company, rather than accept entries on one system and then put out show results on another.

I hope that all our local shows (hint hint) consider switching over to HSO. It’s a much, MUCH easier experience for everyone around, and I’m sure they’d appreciate more complete entries… wink wink, nudge nudge.

In The Arena: Pivo

COVID also made me get serious about virtual lessons, both offering them and taking them. We’re challenged in the more rural parts of the world by the speed of our internet access, but that wasn’t my initial problem: I’d put a thousand bucks into a certain VERY expensive French system that I couldn’t get to work in my arena, with beacons and watches and all sorts of moving parts that didn’t seem to want to reliably talk to one another. I tried FaceTime, which is easy enough, but just not designed for that purpose, so the quality can get janky.

I’d owned a Pivo for a while to try and record my rides, and sometimes it’s a champion and sometimes it’s not (my Pivo was obsessed with a palm tree in Florida that really does not look anything like a horse, and sometimes it would pull an Exorcist in front of the arena mirrors and spin around). But I had someone ask to be taught a virtual lesson via their Pivo… and a love affair was born.

Bang for your buck-wise, it’s the superior system. The compression algorithm of the video quality is just as good as the more expensive systems, but set up is SO much easier (just put the thing on your tripod, click in your phone, press a few buttons and you’re good to go). And whereas sometimes in just recording a video the Pivo can get lost in the woods (or the mirrors, or the palm trees), when teaching a lesson via Pivo, the instructor can take over the robot and control it. I had a lesson with Ali at the last show, in the warmup arena, with multiple horses in the space, and she just took over the robot so she could follow me with it herself. Amazing! And it’s just $150 – WAY better than anything else on the market doing the same thing.

Now if only we could invent some tech to remind me to half halt more and to stop doing that weird thing I do with my right foot!

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How To Buy Sight Unseen, No Cocktails Required

By |2022-06-05T08:49:30-04:00May 17th, 2022|COTH Posts|

COVID-19 changed my world in many ways—like it changed everyone’s world—but one of them was in expanding my personal comfort in buying horses sight unseen. I knew this was a thing people did, but until 2020, I really couldn’t have imagined doing it myself.

And then the world shut down, and traveling became a major hassle, and it all happened at a time when I was looking at young horses. So when, after a couple of cocktails, Maddie appeared on my Instagram feed, I discovered that buying a green-broke 4-year-old from someone I trusted was less scary, for me personally, than getting on a plane unvaccinated (at the time; I’ve since gotten the jabs).

Since then, I’ve not only bought one more for myself, but I’ve also helped others do the same. I worked with my extraordinary veterinarian and friend, Dr. Cricket Russillo, to do so. As we toasted to the successful purchase of my new creature, Nightwatch, a 4-year-old Dutch Warmblood gelding (Hennessey—Fantazia, Pandorra) bred in the U.S. by Marina Parris-Woodhead, Cricket and I found ourselves chatting about the experience. “Someone should really write something about this,” she said, “about how to buy a horse sight unseen in a way that is wise both from a training and from a veterinary perspective.” So let’s get to it!

Read the rest at The Chronicle of the Horse!

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Wedding Magic Requires a Gaggle of Great Wizards

By |2022-05-09T13:49:07-04:00May 9th, 2022|Snippets|

When even the bartender says your wedding is the most fun he’s ever worked, your wedding was really, really fun. And I’m leaving glowing Google reviews for all of our stellar cast of vendors, but that didn’t feel like enough. So here’s the whole scoop on everyone who made our day so magical!

When Ravi proposed in December 2020, our first action item was to hire a wedding planner. We interviewed several, but Jessica Maskell endeared herself to me with the following two lines. First, “Lauren, you’re a dressage trainer, Ravi’s an engineer, and you have 18 months to do this. You’ll be fine.” Second, “My job is to make sure everything gets done and that the groom and his groomsmen don’t get too drunk too early.” She was the (wo)man for the job.

Even better, Jessica came with a +1: her husband, Mark, is a DJ. Mark handled our needs with aplomb, including some great Indian music picked by Ravi’s family, and lit the space beautifully.

Speaking of the space: next up was picking our venue. I really liked 6 Pastures from the photos, but Ravi – bless him – was in charge of the search, because I was already in Florida. But then my distinctly indoorsy fella called and said that hands down, no questions asked, beautiful pastoral 6 Pastures was our space. Their reclaimed hay barn was both exquisite AND sufficiently large to hold both our ceremony and our reception, so we were safe from foul weather AND with great airflow for COVID safety. And the bridal suite, where my bridesmaids and I got ready for the day, is stunning.

Then it was on to catering. We tried one caterer – perfectly reasonable rubber-chicken party food – and Ravi, a guy who eats to live, declared them satisfactory. “Lauren,” he said, “when have you ever been to a wedding where you remembered the food after?” But I live to eat, and we already had an appointment with Downtown Catering on the books, so off we went. And thank goodness, because Therese makes meals that aren’t just checking a box – it was a restaurant-quality experience. Fresh ingredients, beautifully prepared. The food was a joy, and their organization of all our other reception related details like rentals and bartenders was swift and easy.

Not to be outdone, Smiley’s Ice Cream capped the night. Ravi is an ice cream devotee, and the look on our guests faces when the ice cream truck pulled up… gold. Plus, let me tell you, taste testing ice cream to narrow down which flavors we wanted Smiley’s to bring? Not the worst hour of my life!

Makeup artist Elzi Camacho came highly recommended by our venue, and did not disappoint. She was exceptionally organized, communicated with me beautifully, and made my entire bridal party feel like a collection of princesses. My Maid of Honor said it best – it was a little devastating to take the makeup off at the end of the night!

Our hair was done by my long-suffering friend Chelsea of Scarlett and Sage. Chelsea has been cutting my hair for almost 15 years, and in that I am perhaps not the girliest of girls, she’s had to endure a lot of dumb questions, including memorably “Can you teach me how to use a round brush?” when I was just shy of 30 years old. Chelsea did a stunning job on a range of hair lengths and types, and made us all feel amazing.

We did most of our own decor, picking up bits and pieces from online wedding resale groups. Out of a desire to be both thrifty and environmentally friendly, we used sola wood flowers from Southern Blooms Co., sola wood being a fast-growing marshy tree. Our bouquets will last a lifetime, and were also as beautiful at my wedding as they were the day they arrived (months in advance, so I could cross them off my list of worries early on!). Here’s a cool review of their environmental impact. And I was also thrifty with my jewelry, picking up some fun costume pieces at a craft fair in Palm Beach.

Last, but far from least, on the list: dresses. Our color theme was purple, and Azazie offered an incredible range of dresses all made from the same color, so I picked Regency and turned my bridesmaids loose to pick their own style, with ties and pocket squares for the groomsmen to match. But for my own dress, after visiting a few bridal boutiques to try on the traditional big fluffy white dress, I was feeling a little uninspired by it all.

Which is when I saw a post on a wedding resale group on Facebook by a bride who’d had her dress made by a woman looking to break into the bespoke dress business, and her rates were unbelievably comparable to store-bought designs. What caught my eye about this bride’s dress was that it was pink, and an idea was born: I wanted a lavender dress. Kirah of Mrs. Jones Bridal and I met first online, to talk about what I wanted, and then a few times in person while she made my dress first out of muslin material, to get the size and shape perfect. It took time (which was fine, we had it), but that was a comfort; I remember that in one of our early appointments, Kirah spent about 20 minutes completely rebuilding one shoulder of the muslin mockup, to make sure she got it right.

The end result was so much more stunning that I could ever have imagined, an honest-to-god show stopper, and certainly unlike anything I could have bought in a store. And for an extra bit of fun, Kirah asked me to do a photo shoot in it for marketing purposes, and let me say that if you ever have the opportunity to have your hair and your makeup done for a photo shoot in an item of clothing made for you, do it do it do it. I’ve never felt more beautiful in my life – and as someone with a lifetime of body image issues, that is really, truly saying something!

 

This top-shelf team of vendors, led by Jessica, made for a day that – please don’t mistake this for hyperbole – was truly seamless, beyond my wildest dreams. Ravi and I had the great joy of just being able to kick back and relax, and enjoy the company of our fantastic families and friends. If you’ve got some impending nuptials, I wish you an equally glorious day!

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Have Empathy In The Face Of The Hardest Choice

By |2022-04-20T05:05:22-04:00April 18th, 2022|COTH Posts|

Eddie was never quite right. He was perfectly sound, with an exceptional pre-purchase exam. He was sweet and generally polite, and he took pressure well under saddle. But he was just a little weird, a little aloof. There were a few bizarre instances of explosive behavior (inevitably always with me in the tack, if someone was in the tack), but I found ways to justify them, and I figured out a system. But I never felt good about it. I never felt confident about it. And I figured the reason those explosive events made me panic was that I wasn’t good enough to do right by him.

It got so bad inside my head that I ended up seeking out therapy about it. Why, as an experienced rider and trainer, was this horse haunting me? Why couldn’t I get myself to a place where I trusted him? I cut my teeth on naughty. I’m pretty good at it. And this sweet-natured but complicated horse clearly didn’t want to be testy. I kept coming back to this: Horses aren’t evil; horses don’t set out to do harm. So I blamed myself.

Read the rest at The Chronicle of the Horse!

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Join Our Team!

By |2022-03-28T05:42:03-04:00March 28th, 2022|News & Events|

Are you that person who alphabetizes their spice rack? Love a good label maker? And want to apply those skills to a life with fancy prance dressage ponies and the hilarious nerds who care for them? We’re looking for a working student intern to join our team at Sprieser Sporthorse, Marshall VA and Loxahatchee FL.
Our interns are PAID to RIDE, groom, tack, muck, turn in/out, feed, and do other farm chores at our beautiful Virginia facility, with awesome horses, fabulous humans, and many, many excellent snacks. Our team works hard, plays hard, and loves to learn and love our animals together. We have a team approach to the day to day runnings of a top dressage barn, developing horses from green to Grand Prix, and teaching amateurs, youth and professionals alike from the grassroots to the CDI ring.
We show, a lot. You’ll get to learn the ropes of showing with a top shelf team, both nationally and internationally. CDIs, CPEDIs, National Championships; that’s what we do (in addition to labelling things, ALWAYS replacing an empty toilet paper roll, and reveling in a good pun.) Whenever possible we’ll find horses for you to show – in the last 15 years we’ve made MANY USDF Bronze and Silver Medalists out of our working students, on both their own and on client-owned horses.
We bring in top shelf clinicians to complement the instruction provided by Head Trainer Lauren Sprieser, USDF Gold Medalist, and Sam Laurel, USDF Bronze Medalist and eventer, both of whom have a long track record of turning rogues into rockstars. And we’ll teach you how we do it. Former working student interns have gone onto be trainers within our own program and out in the world. Our connections throughout the horse world are vast and excellent, and we’ll make sure that wherever you go from us is a great gig. And our name on your resume is a golden ticket to wherever you want to be.
Applicants must be team oriented self-starters who use their words, play well with others, and take pride in all the halters being hung up the same way. Dressage experience not required, but a strong work ethic and an open mind are. Housing and salary provided, with the possibility of a full training stall for the right candidate. Must be able to work in the US without sponsorship. Ideally looking for someone who can stay beyond just the summer, but we’ll consider all options. No pets. Must be able to put your phone down. Must be the kind of person who replaces the &*@#$! toilet paper roll. But don’t worry – we’ll provide the label maker. Bonus points to those with young horse experience because OH MY so many babies right now.
Send your resume and at least one funny joke and/or pun to lauren@spriesersporthorse.com.
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The Ugh of Starting Anew

By |2022-03-23T18:18:21-04:00March 23rd, 2022|COTH Posts|

Man oh man, 2021 had some cool things in store for me. The trio of horses I’d spent years developing, The Elvis Syndicate’s Guernsey Elvis, my mom’s Helio, and my own Gretzky, are all 2011 babies, so they were all 10, all touching on the Grand Prix things, all really solid in their understanding of The Rules on life and dressage and the program.

Elvis showed it first, and Helio after that, and Puck is really close. And they’re not only extraordinary athletes, but they’re all known quantities to me; they’ve been my friends and partners for so long that we speak the same shorthand, and our work together is productive and efficient and based on a deep mutual friendship and trust.

Now it’s 2022, and I’ve made Helio and Puck into such good horses that it’s time for them to move on. The choice to sell both was a bear, but Helio’s job was to be for my mom, and they just didn’t click. For Puck, my brilliant little weirdo whose greatest days are yet to come, I can’t justify the push into the international ring when I’m bearing the total cost myself, and when Elvis is equally extraordinary but with expenses I get help paying. Helio’s sale was quick and efficient, to a wonderful rider who’s a part of my circle, and so he’ll stay in my life. I’m now embarking on the journey with Puck to find his next tall, hungry human; he’ll require the right person, but he’s gorgeous and powerful and beautifully educated and has been well cared for. His next lucky person will find him soon enough.

And I’ll be starting over.

… ugh.

Read the rest at The Chronicle of the Horse!

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Training Opportunities

By |2022-03-20T05:49:52-04:00March 20th, 2022|News & Events|

We make FEI superstars! And we want to do it for YOU.
We’re looking for long-term training partnerships to develop up the levels. Head Trainer Lauren Sprieser has made countless horses to the international levels, including 7 to the Grand Prix level, all in a holistic and positive way. We work out of our home base in Marshall, Virginia, and winter outside Wellington, Florida, and our team provides extraordinary care out of world-class facilities.
We take our time and do it right, with ample turnout, smart training both in and out of the arena, and plenty of competition success along the way. And the end result are horses in the ribbons both with our trainers AND for their amateur owners – many of our nearly 40 USDF Medalists achieved their scores on horses we made up the levels for them.
So if you’re looking to grow your horse, whether for long-term sale development or for yourself to show at the big levels, we’ve got a special training rate for you. Reach out to learn more today – lauren@spriesersporthorse.com.
Have a look at just a few of our successes!
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