Lauren Sprieser pats her horse after a successful dressage test

partnershipI am sitting on an airplane to Las Vegas. The couple next to me are in their 80s, and have been married for 57 years. He holds her hand while they snooze. A love like theirs is something we all should be so lucky to know.

The timing of this trip sucks. The expense is daunting. But six months ago, when one of my best friends announced that, as she’d be celebrating a Birthday of Significance in April of 2015, she wanted our other bestie and I to join her in Las Vegas for the World Cup Final, we couldn’t not go. Life is short. World Cups in Vegas are few (I know they’ll be back in 2017, but… Omaha or Vegas? Sorry, Nebraska.)

So even though I’ve barely been back in Virginia long enough to do a load of laundry, even though I’m missing an important NAJYRC and Developing Horse qualifier, even though I’m showing Grand Prix in a few weeks and can’t seem to ride the passage to piaffe transition the same way twice, even though—to top it all off—I’m moving out of my rented house and back to the farm, I am on a plane to Las Vegas, because I love my friends and, in spite of my consistently consistent lack of availability to grab a bite or meet up for an activity, and in spite of my constant and neurotic prattling on about the highs and lows of life in a plucky little high performance horse sport, they love me, too.

I am doing this for all the fun professional reasons as well, of course. How often are we so lucky as to see these European greats on US soil? Watching Isabell Werth ride anything is a Master Class. Edward Gal’s incredible simultaneous control and stillness is an inspiration all its own.

But the partnerships. No one gets to the World Cup by chance, but the top group. Charlotte and Valegro. Laura and Verdades. Two of the most incredible love stories of the modern dressage era. Two very young women of humble origins, on the right baby horse at the right time, growing together into the greatness that we see today, but also all we know about them behind the scenes, how Valegro loves his hacking and turnout, and how Verdades takes his confidence from Laura-not-just-as-rider-but-as-groom, at his side. A love like theirs is something we all should be so lucky to know.

My two friends and I are all very different, different backgrounds, different stories, though we have a few key commonalities. We’re all riders, obviously. We’re all strong and driven women, none of us shy about attacking what we want with gusto. We’re all also accomplished in our respective fields, and we all got that way because we’re equally bright (a good thing) and neurotic (a sometimes-not-so-good thing, though the itinerary for this trip was rather meticulously planned, and we’ve got sufficient sunscreen and breakfast bars to feed a small army, so that’s something).

We all also really need this trip, even me, in spite of it’s less-than-ideal timing, or maybe even because of it. We’ve all, independently, had a case of the oh-my-gods before this trip. The expense. The timing. Various personal and professional calamities that are just part of life and living.

And here we are, on this plane, tickets scrimped and scrounged for, savings tapped into, partially because this is the World Cup Final, and they don’t come around often. But also because we are people who love and care about each other, have each other’s backs (even when it ain’t going so good), and who will cherish the good times and make the most of everything. A love like this is something I am so honored, so privileged, so blessed to know.