Tuesday, May. 28, 2024

Keeping The Good Days

Understatement of the year: life in the horse business ain't easy. The ups are terrific but the downs can be so, so down—achingly long days, dirt and sweat and blood and tears, life and death and crushed expectations and placing hopes and dreams in the hooves of 1,200-pound prey animals on lean legs. 

But those ups. The days where the horses go well. The days were the clients make progress. The big wins. Those are the good days, and the universe has this funny way of handing them to you exactly when you need them.

PUBLISHED
11692593_841583699244365_200817662884550206_n.jpg

ADVERTISEMENT

Understatement of the year: life in the horse business ain’t easy. The ups are terrific but the downs can be so, so down—achingly long days, dirt and sweat and blood and tears, life and death and crushed expectations and placing hopes and dreams in the hooves of 1,200-pound prey animals on lean legs. 

But those ups. The days where the horses go well. The days were the clients make progress. The big wins. Those are the good days, and the universe has this funny way of handing them to you exactly when you need them.

This spring has been tough. Nothing disastrous, nothing life threatening. Just long hours, big expenses and a fair number of nights spent lying awake wondering if I’d made the right call. Bringing Ella back home with me is at the heart of it—I have big dreams, and big dreams require a lot of time and work to make happen, and when you’re a professional rider, you’re either spending your time making money and not advancing your education, or you’re spending your money advancing your education; it’s impossible to do both at the same time.

So I took the risk, took a lot of time (even after returning home from Florida) to get Ella and I on the same page, and then spent a lot of time and money showing. The rest of my time was spent running all over Virginia, teaching my hair off. I love, LOVE, to teach, possibly even more than I love to ride—I know, blasphemy, but it’s true—so I thrive on the pandemonium of trying to do it all, watching my students make progress, but it’s also been exhausting, beating the crap out of my poor little Honda as well as my body. I haven’t been able to keep up with my fitness. I haven’t had a day off in weeks. I haven’t been sleeping very much, or very well.

This is not complaining. I really do love the crazy times, but no one can do crazy forever, and as usual, by the time I got to July, I was pretty exhausted. But with Dressage at Lexington, one of our biggest shows of the year, looming with 12 horses in our group, plus an almost-immediate turnaround to the NAJYRC, I didn’t approach Lexington with my usual enthusiasm. It’s one of my favorite shows, not only because it’s meticulously run or because it gives that big-show feel, but because it marks the halfway point of the season, that we’ve made it this far.

So I was pretty excited when my students led off the show by winning a whole bunch. DAL features a competition called the Sporting Horse Amateur Challenge, a two-day competition both for individuals and for teams of amateur riders at each level. My students were individual champion at second level and fourth level, individual reserve champion at third level, and took third place in the team championship, bested only by training and first level riders.

ADVERTISEMENT

I was excited when Heather, a student and one of my closest friends, finished her USDF bronze medal on a horse I found for her, and on whom we’ve done all the training. I was excited when Kristin H, another longtime student and friend, got her fourth level scores for her silver medal on two horses we’ve made from first level to a hair’s breadth from Prix St. Georges. I was beyond excited when Meg got her first level scores to allow her to compete her freestyle (on a pony we found for her), and when my assistant trainers clocked off their scores for their USDF bronze medals.

And I was super excited to take Fiero’s first big Prix St. Georges win, on almost 68%; to take big scores on Fender at Prix St. Georges and Intermediate I AND to win the Two-Tempi Challenge fundraiser for The Dressage Foundation with 58 consecutive twos; and to win the Grand Prix on Ella on 69% AND to earn 71% in our first Grand Prix freestyle together.

It wasn’t all perfect. Fender was terrific in his final Developing Prix St. Georges qualifier, but it won’t be enough to book our ticket; incredibly, a 69.5% average keeps us out of the top 15. I rode Ella’s freestyle like a trout out of water, flopping rather pathetically. (This is, apparently, what I do when I do something with Ella for the first time, as I also was incredibly unimpressive and panicky in our first Grand Prix earlier this year, so I suppose that now that I’ve gotten both out of my system, I can stop just throwing up all over the riding and get down to business!)

But it was a great show. And when this is your job, you cling to those shows, those weekends, those days where it all shakes out, to sustain you through the not-so-great times. So I’m putting this in my pocket to keep my chin up the next time it all goes to Hell in a handcart. Congratulations to my riders! I’m so proud of you!

SprieserSporthorse.com
Lauren Sprieser on Facebook

Categories:

ADVERTISEMENT

EXPLORE MORE

Follow us on

Sections

Copyright © 2024 The Chronicle of the Horse