One Wild Wellington Week

Jan 27, 2021 - 3:00 PM

Monday, 4:30 a.m. I am in Virginia, and I am awake. 4:30 a.m. seems to be my usual wake-up time these days, even on a day when I don’t need to be awake this early. I’m a terrible sleeper, which is irritating, but since I’ve got a few hours until my flight leaves, I start the day with some yoga. It leaves me feeling great, and I think, as I do every time I do yoga, I really should do this more often. Maybe I can do 20 minutes of yoga every day this week. That feels reasonable, right? Sure.

1:30 p.m. I fly back to Florida. (Double mask, window seat, overhead air vents on, no food or drinks, face the window as much as possible.) Grocery store, laundry, then out to the farm to retrieve my dogs and to teach Abe Pugh, who is doing the CDI-W this week. His homework was to ride Pistol really over his back for the weekend while I was gone and to do simple, basic things. It worked; he looks fabulous.

While home, I see a note from FedEx on the farm gate. It says they’ve tried to deliver something requiring a signature several times. It’s my engagement ring, which I’d sent off to be resized. The note says I can drive 35 minutes each way to go pick it up in person TONIGHT, after 7, or it’ll be sent back. Ugh.

6:30 p.m. Off I drive to Lake Worth, where they say, “No problem, we’ll get your package. We just need your ID.” I grab my wallet only to find that I’d pulled out my ID to get through airport security, and I left it in my jacket pocket, which is at the farm. Ughhhhhh. They promise they will try to deliver it again Tuesday morning, first thing.

8 p.m. I’m pooped, so it’s a carryout salad for dinner and a pile of office work because I just get the feeling this is going to be a rough week. I pull out my laptop, and I look for my charger, and I can’t find it. Nor can I find the carrying case that also has in it an incredible handwritten letter I received from the woman who bought my Swagger horse over the summer. The letter was so lovely and thoughtful it made me tear up. The missing case also contained a backup hard drive containing MY ENTIRE LIFE including some pretty sensitive financial information. The case is not in my truck. It was not left at home. The only place it could be is the airport. I call their lost-and-found number, and they’re not open. No big deal, right? We can fix this in the morning?

I think this is going to be a weird week.

Tuesday, 6 a.m. An email from my vet declaring the young horse I vetted in Europe to be The One. Huzzah! Five months of looking and I’ve finally got one. Hope I like it, because I’ve obviously never met it.

6:30 a.m. Teach five lessons, at two farms; ride six horses, including a mare that was sent to me to sell. She had been described as The World’s Most Perfect Amateur Professor, so she will either be exactly that or a complete disaster. Much to my joy, she’s the former. Elvis feels fantastic. Puck feels pleasant but useless. My back feels like I spent the entire flight from D.C. to Florida curled up against the window seat. I put a sign on the gate for the FedEx guy with my cell phone number. He does not show up. I also call lost-and-found at Dulles Airport and leave a message about the missing laptop case.

1:30 p.m. Coffee.

3 p.m. Off to try a sale horse for someone I’ve never met, but who doesn’t want to travel due to COVID. The horse is a treat, but it’s not remotely suitable for how she describes herself, so it’s a short ride. Which is good, because…

4:15 p.m. …I still need to help Abe at the show. Pistol is generally unflappable, and he works beautifully. FedEx, by the way, has not yet shown up.

maskedatGDF
Who is that masked (wo)man at Global? That’s me. I think. KTB Creative Photo

5:30 p.m. One last lesson, chasing the daylight, then a quick drag and water of the arena, and home for some office work, including setting up an appointment for my vet to do a quick once-over of this little sale mare. I don’t have any reason to suspect anything, but I think this is smart for everyone selling anything because no one likes surprises.

5:54 p.m. FedEx arrives, someone signs for my ring, crisis averted. Lost-and-found at Dulles Airport calls to tell me they have not found my lost laptop case. Crisis not averted.

7 p.m. I’m making this delicious and incredibly easy salmon curry recipe that I make about twice a month at home, with no problems. The salmon smokes like hell and fills the house, which is when my housemates and I learn that none of the windows open, and there’s only one door into the place. On the plus side, there are now fewer bugs in the house.

I do not do yoga.

Wednesday, 6:30 a.m. Ride two. (Puck feels fantastic; Elvis feels pleasant but useless.). Teach two.

9:30 a.m. Run to the show to watch Pistol—an absolutely delightful animal who is normally groomed and handled by Abe’s 14-year-old daughter—canter and rear and buck and piaffe his way through the CDI jog. But he’s quite sound as he behaves like a wingnut, so he passes.

11 a.m. Ride two more, teach four, at two farms. Watch my vet jog little sale mare, who is delightfully sound. New charger for my laptop arrives, which is good, because I need to teach a virtual lesson (student in Canada) while sitting next to the pool because the internet is the fastest there. Florida’s not so bad.

2 p.m. Coffee.

4 p.m. Back to the show to watch Abe ride Pistol, who continues to look awesome; we turn up the trot a bit, tweak the corners. Such a terrific horse! On the way back to the barn, I fire off a few texts to some friends about the little sale mare. In 15 minutes, I have three appointments for people to try her.

5:30 p.m. Back to the farm to retrieve dogs and drag the ring. I meet my vet’s tech in the Publix parking lot on my way home to pick up a cream for a horse with leg crud that, naturally, I forgot to mention when they were at my farm. Home by 7, reheat salmon without lighting the house on fire, and settle in to do office work and, before bed, yoga.

8:30 p.m. Fall asleep in bed with my laptop open. I do not do yoga.

Thursday, 6 a.m. Over to the farm early to drop off dogs, then back to the show to coach Abe, who is displeased that I’m a morning person. Sorry, bro. Pistol looks great.

8 a.m. Ride two, teach four. Call lost-and-found at Dulles again. No luck.

12 p.m. My farrier arrives from Virginia. He’ll do all my horses, plus a few others from our area who have trailered in. There’s not enough room in my parking lot to swing a cat. I teach a virtual lesson (student in Georgia).

1 p.m. Teach two at the other farm. Coffee.

3 p.m. Ali Brock arrives to teach me on my horses. Elvis, on whom I spent most of 2019 and 2020 working to kill his big hangy front end in order to pick up the hind leg, is now getting the front end back up to make transitions from passage to piaffe. It’s really hard. Puck is also fantastic, and he makes the entire trot tour of Prix St. Georges in his big, sexy uphill trot. Ali tells me to enter a show!

4:45 p.m. Sprint into the bank to catch the last appointment of the day to wire money to the Netherlands for my new horse! I’m very excited for a moment, until I see the new balance in my checking account.

6:30 p.m. Carryout dinner with my farrier, where we discuss important horsey topics like how my wedding planning is going. I head home to sit down at my laptop and glance to my left, where I see that the missing laptop case has been sitting on the floor the entire time.

Friday, 6:30 a.m. Ride two, teach three. Elvis is dead behind the eyes, so he stretches in the snaffle. Puck enjoys a moment of sibling rivalry and bangs out even better trot than in his lesson with Ali, wearing the crown for the day. He looks smug.

9:30 a.m. Over to the show to watch Abe do a beautiful, fluid, pleasant and slightly boring Grand Prix test. He gets almost 67, which is lovely, but not nearly as much as he’s capable of. Abe is rightly disappointed, but I’m happy, only in that I know this will ruffle Abe’s feathers, and he’ll bang out a gorgeous freestyle on Sunday.

11 a.m. Back to the other farm to teach one, then back to my farm for the rest of my day. Ride two more, teach three more.

3 p.m. Coffee.

4 p.m. Show perfect little sale mare to the first people, for whom she is even more perfect. They want to come back tomorrow, so I call to cancel the second group that wants to meet her, but they might be interested in another horse I have for sale, so now they’re coming tomorrow for that one. We’re going to need more white polo wraps.

6 p.m. Check in with Abe, who is OK, and in the right head space for Sunday. Check in with farrier, who got himself dinner. Check in with fiancé, whom I miss. Check in with flight for new young horse, which is scheduled for early February—there’s a significant queue for horses flying from Europe, apparently.

I do not do yoga.

Saturday, 6:30 a.m. Ride one, teach seven, show two sale horses. A normal day! How nice!

1:13 p.m. LOL, you cute. A horse gets loose and tears around the farm, including slipping and sliding down the barn aisle, causing literal sparks to fly, and a whole lot of (mercifully superficial) scrapes and scratches. We put him back together just as Ali pulls in the driveway for lessons. (Elvis is fresh as a daisy after a light day; Helio makes his first real passage steps. Boom!)

3:30 p.m. Coffee.

4 p.m. Sale horse goes beautifully for trial No. 2, and they’re rightly smitten. A vetting is scheduled for tomorrow!

Sunday, 6:30 a.m. Sunday Funday. Most of our horses hack, either out on the canals of Deer Run, or around the arena if they’re untrustworthy. I help the girls with a few, then teach two, then it’s off to the show.

12:30 p.m. But first, coffee.

1 p.m. Abe and Pistol do a super job after a long and tiring week for a 70% with a few hiccups. He should be super proud; I certainly am!

5 p.m. Sale horse sails through her pre-purchase exam, making this a tie for the fastest I’ve ever sold a horse. The new owner has had a horse search similar to my own, so I’m excited to be the one to have the perfect match!

6:30 p.m. I’m just breaking my dry January vow with a celebratory adult beverage when I get the call that Elvis, Mr. Perfect Pants himself, kicked his automatic waterer off the wall and has flooded his stall. Fortunately, my landlord is around and is able to get the water turned off to his side of the barn, and we boot Elvis out of his stall into the only empty one left on the property for the night, but there’s much running amok. Noteworthy: These things never happen at a civilized hour.

So there will need to be pipe repairs, and there will need to be signing of contracts and wiring of funds, and there will need to be some laundry and some post-show analysis and regrouping and plans and on and on, but for tonight, a well-earned drink and an 8 p.m. bedtime are just what the doctor ordered, so I can do it all again next week.

I do not, however, do yoga.


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 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.

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