And that was that. Seven weeks went by, and my hand healed. The pins came out on Tuesday afternoon, I rode Elvis—the one of my animals I trust not to be strong or feral or both—Wednesday morning. Farm holiday party Thursday morning, followed by packing-palooza Thursday afternoon. “Christmas” dinner with my partner and his kids Friday night. And then hopping in my truck with most of my stuff and the best dog ever for the two-day drive to Welly-world.
I can’t say that the time has “flown by.” It’s been tedious and frustrating. My hand hurt, a lot, for a long time. I felt like a baby for not being able to push through; forget wanting to ride, I just wanted to be able to do ANYTHING, and any activity that got my heart rate up was a no-no, because of the pain and the swelling. So my very fit and trim, eating great and riding five to six horses a day and going to the gym four days a week self, had to be basically sedentary for the duration of my healing. I’m heading to Florida with a body that feels like a ton of bricks; a right hand that, while liberated from the pins, is stiff as hell and filled with awe-inspiring swelling; and more than a little frustration.
But the time hasn’t been badly spent. I’ve been working with Haymarket Chiropractic & Rehabilitation on a simple routine of exercise and stretching to try to correct some asymmetries in my musculature; we’ll see if I feel better on a horse, but it couldn’t hurt. My assistant trainers, Lauren and Jess, have kept my horses going for me, and by nature of them both being half my size, I’m eager to see how my horses feel. They’ve had no choice but to listen to lighter aids for the last seven weeks. I’m fairly on top of my office work; I usually am, but with a lot of forced desk duty as of late, my taxes, year-end bills and website are all high and tight.
So I’m ready, ready to hit the ground running (or at least lightly jogging?). The weight gain and lost muscle from my time on the bench will sort itself out, and swiftly. I have a show plan for Elvis, including our CDI small tour debut in February. Puck looks fantastic and will certainly be going on some outings to see if we can do one withOUT breaking my hand (I’m mostly joking about this, as it wasn’t really his fault). Swagger doesn’t have anything on his dance card; he’s doing everything I want him to be doing, and since I don’t really feel any burning desire to rush into the flying changes, I doubt he’ll show in 2020, which is fine. Terrina Baker’s De Angelicus will do some things at first level, and I’m trying to steal the ride on my mom’s totally fantastic palomino Lusitano, Helio, to show him in his first Prix St. Georges, because darnit, I want to show the Barbie Dream Pony in a tailcoat.
It’s a terrific crew we have going to Florida. I have the most amazing staff; assistant trainer Lauren will take the helm at home, with barn manager extraordinaire Rachel and working students Emily and Anna, each doing half the season in Virginia and the other half in Florida. Assistant trainer Jess and new working student Caitlin will stay in Florida, and having as many people down there as I’ll have means I can actually go off-site and do some teaching, so I’ve got clinics in Ocala, Vero Beach and Atlanta scheduled through the winter. And I’ll be home once a month to teach, as I always am.
And it’s a super group of horses and clients in Florida as well. Jess will get to show Beverley Thomas’ palomino, Fantom, so it’s the clash of the Barbie Dream Horse titans. Jodie and Sully are nudging up on second (and maybe even third!) levels, and my mom is sniffing around an Intermediaire I. My wonderful old friend Midge will continue to show his owner, Liza, about Grand Prix and how incredibly long that test is, while my other dear old friend Fiero will help his new owner, Chris, finish his USDF bronze medal. And new friend Ashley, on loan from her awesome trainer Jenn Roth, will enjoy her first Florida winter and join me at the CDIs. What fun!
In short, it’s going to be four long and busy months. After seven long and tedious weeks, I’m hungry for it!
Lauren Sprieser is a USDF gold, silver and bronze medalist making horses and riders to FEI from her farm in Marshall, Virginia. She’s currently developing The Elvis Syndicate’s Guernsey Elvis, Beverley Thomas and her Ellington, and her own Gretzky RV and Ojalá with hopes of one day representing the United States in team competition. Read more about her at SprieserSporthorse.com, or follow Lauren Sprieser on Facebook and Instagram.