Reintroductions

Jun 5, 2018 - 2:10 PM

It’s been more than 500 entries and almost nine years since I started this blog. I think I had about 12 readers in the beginning; the last one logged more than 150,000 views in just a few days. That is AMAZING. I am so touched!

But that means I’m getting lots of new readers, so I thought I’d take the opportunity to introduce myself again. Hi! I’m Lauren. My last name is spelled SprIEser, and pronounced SPRY-zer. I’m a Libra, which allegedly means I’m well balanced, which is hilarious. And I’m a September Libra, which is apparently a thing, though I have no idea what it means.

I grew up outside Chicago to non-horsey parents, and while I’d ridden horses at summer camp and on family trips, I got serious about it at age 11, after a football accident left me with a broken femur. My football and figure skating careers over (lol), I started taking dressage lessons. As a kid I’d ride my bike from home to the public library, where I had a job putting covers on books, then pedal to the barn for my lessons, and then head home.

The book thing stuck too, because I went to college in New York to pursue a degree in Writing And Reading Stuff. While there I had the great joy of riding with Lendon Gray, going to three NAYRCs, and taking a semester to work in Germany with the late George Theodorescu. I graduated and taught freelance for a bit, then was a working student for Carol Lavell and Pam Goodrich before moving to northern Virginia to run my own facility about 50 miles west of Washington, D.C., in the heart of Horse Country.

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Photo by SusanJStickle.com.

I’ve been here 10 years, which has led me to lots of national championships, both USEF and USDF; CDIs, including the CDI**** Omaha; and students competing in both dressage and eventing to the various national championships in both disciplines. It’s been an awesome ride, with lots of ups and downs.

My dream is to make an international team. That can’t be a goal, because there are a whole lot of things out of my own control involved in making a team, because if I have the best horse of my career and am getting huge scores, and there are four people scoring better than me, that’s the ballgame. So the goal is to consistently produce horses that could be team contenders, and to do so in a fair and compassionate way.

There are four horses in my life that could be on that path. The oldest is a 10-year-old KWPN gelding named Danny Ocean (Wynton—Zarlien, Krack C), who is the best horse of my career by a landslide, and for whom the last year has been plagued with awfulness: an injury that took us forever and a surgery to find, followed by colic surgery, followed by another injury. Danny makes my heart hurt right now, so that’s all I’m going to say about him for the moment.

Next up is a 7-year-old KWPN gelding named Gretzky RV (Johnson—Top Gun RV, Elmshorn), whom I bought about a year ago as a green 6-year-old as a bit of a project. The good news about a green older horse is that no one has taught him anything bad. Hooray! The bad news about a green older horse is that no one has taught him anything, and that means that I spent the first 12 months with “Puck” dealing with a combination of 7-year-old strong—and 17.2 hands, by the way—with 5-year-old pissed off. A few weeks ago something snapped into place in his head, and all of a sudden the nonsense has almost completely disappeared, and I have a nice horse to ride. I have no competition plans for him in 2018, because he’s somewhere between third level and can’t-turn-right depending on the day, but he was a right stroppy pig at his only outing in 2017, so he’s going on lots of adventures this year as a non-compete.

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Gretzky. Photo by Belinda Nairn.

Next is the 6-year-old KWPN gelding Hurricane (Don Tango—B-Bamora, UB40), whom I co-own with Beverley Thomas. Hurricane is an unbelievable talent, and he got pretty weird as a 4-year-old out of absolutely nowhere, and when you’re scaring 5’10” of lady, you get to spend a few years with 6’4” of man—my longtime coach, Michael Barisone. Hurricane is, like Puck, somewhere between third level and useless, not an unusual place to be, so you’ll be seeing him further down the road. But he’s super, super cool, and I’m really excited about him.

Last on the list is the baby, my 4-year-old Westphalian gelding Ellington (Everdale—Jazzmine, Jazz Rubin). I bought “Swagger” in Holland last year at 17 hands and capable of walk-trot-cantering perfectly on the bit. He fluffed around until last fall, and now he works a few days a week and hacks and is generally wonderful, so we’re just twiddling our thumbs until he’s old enough to actually train on. I did take him to his first outing a few weeks ago, and he was marvelous, and I’ll continue to show him at training level, not because I actually care about training level, but because I don’t really have anything else to do.

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Ellington. Photo by PicsOfYou.com.

You’ll hear me mention other horses from time to time: Ellegria, or Ella, is the first horse I trained myself to Grand Prix, and with whom I did CDI Grand Prix for a few years. I sold her last year to a wonderful young rider. Victorious, or Midge, is the second. He was an absolute terrorist of a young horse until he grew up into the most wonderful and fun Grand Prix horse, only to then be catastrophically hurt and retired. But Midge does whatever Midge wants, and retiring wasn’t it. He’s belonged to an amazing amateur student of mine for a while now, who nursed him back to work, and they’re aiming towards their Grand Prix debut at the end of this year.

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Victorious. Photo by SusanJStickle.com.

Clairvoya, or Cleo, is one of the horses I would KILL to have back again, knowing all I know now. She was a terribly successful small tour horse and a vaguely successful U25 Grand Prix horse who unfortunately passed away a few years ago. And Bellinger, or Billy, is another one. I did the NAYRC and the U25 Grand Prix on him, then leased him to a client, and the lease fees paid for a 4-year-old that became a great small tour horse that paid for the next two young horses that paid for my new truck and the down payment on my house, and THEN, still unfinished, Billy took a kid student to two national championships and her USDF Silver Medal. He retired sound at 23. Billy is now 26 and lives the life of luxury at a retirement farm near me.

Stratocaster, or Fender; Fiero; Dorian Gray, or Dorian; and Johnny Road, or Johnny, are all horses I bought up from training or first levels to the upper levels, and now they take great care of their amateur-owners.

I live with an amazing man named Ravi and a more-amazing pitbull named Nike, and I love them in that order, but only barely. I like to grow vegetables in my garden, at which I’m only moderately good, and I like to cook things, at which I’m much better. I love hiking in Shenandoah National Park, and I like running and going to the gym, because that way I can eat all the delicious things I cook without giving into my glacial Nordic metabolism.

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Clairvoya. Photo by Coree Reuter.

Some Frequently Asked Questions:

1. Are you this silly in person? Yep.

2. When is your book coming out? I have tried, on several occasions, to write a book. It never seems to make it past the stage of a few scribbles on note paper. The secret to my blogging success is having no deadlines and no obligations and virtually never editing anything. Not the case with a book. I’m going to keep working on it though.

3. Are you this silly in your lessons? And if so, how do I ride with you, because you make dressage sound marginally more fun than watching paint dry? Thank you! In addition to lessons at my own farm in Marshall, Virginia, I also travel all over the place for clinics. This year I’m in Ottawa, Atlanta, Connecticut, Vermont and Maryland, but if you email me we can talk about how to get me to come to you.

4. It’s obvious from your blogs that you hate men/hate Friesians/hate Sandro Hit offspring/hate poodles/like to abuse horses/are out to get American breeders/other terrible things. Why are you such a jerk? While the list of my imperfections is extensive and comprehensive, I don’t actually like to abuse horses, and I don’t think that doing things like putting my leg on or using a noseband qualifies as such. There are also very few things in the world that I hate, and I feel like they’re things most people can get behind: meanness, people who drive the speed limit in the left hand lane, colic, broccoli. I’m a nice person and a kind and fair horse trainer, and I’m also a human who screws up. I’m just doing the best I can.

5. You seem like a nice young lady, and I’d like to help you out/send you a horse to ride. How can I do that? Well shucks! Thanks! Here’s my PayPal (just kidding!), and here’s my email address.

6. Is that actually a question you’re frequently asked? Hope springs eternal, baby.

7. I want to blog for the Chronicle. How did you get the gig? And how do I get the gig? I got this great job by maintaining my own personal blog for years, proving that I could a) provide consistent content, and b) spell. If you think you can do both of those things too, send my awesome editor Sara an email.

8. How can I follow even more silly details of your weird life? You can follow me on Facebook or on Instagram.

Thanks for reading!
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