Monday, Jun. 3, 2024

Open House

This month my farm turned two, and we celebrated yesterday with a big Open House. I rode my critters and did some demonstrations, and I had my vet come out and bring her awesome mobile clinic. It's hard to believe that we've been here two years already—I'm still meeting my neighbors, still periodically getting lost on the back roads of Middleburg, and still have no social life. Whatev!

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This month my farm turned two, and we celebrated yesterday with a big Open House. I rode my critters and did some demonstrations, and I had my vet come out and bring her awesome mobile clinic. It’s hard to believe that we’ve been here two years already—I’m still meeting my neighbors, still periodically getting lost on the back roads of Middleburg, and still have no social life. Whatev!

But this is our second Open House, and like last year, I got a little flutter in my chest Saturday night fretting that no one would show up. The weather’s been stinky, and Saturday was the Gold Cup races (nothing says fun like galloping at speed over big obstacles in 40-degree sleet), so I was worried that people would stay at home.

And just like last year, I was freaking FLOORED by how many people came! It was an awesome afternoon—my arena was packed, and while there were lots of students and friends around, the majority were strangers to me. Hoorah!

Exposure for the farm, and exposure to dressage. I can’t tell you how many times I heard, “Well, I’m an eventer/hunter/foxhunter/pleasure rider, but I’ve been thinking about some dressage lessons to improve my scores/improve my balance and skills/improve my horse’s responsiveness and rideability.”

Music to my DQ ears.

Last year was a free-for-all schedulewise, and it went fine, but this year I decided to have more of a program. I started with Midge, warmed him up, made a little piaffe and trottage (that thing in between trot and passage—but he’s getting much better at it!), and then rode his freestyle. He was a pretty big chicken about the crowd at the end of the ring, but managed to stay fairly rideable, and that’s a big victory for the little squirt.

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I then did a “tour” of horses from green to Grand Prix and talked about my training philosophy, how I approach the education from beginning to end.

I started with a new horse I have in training, an 8-year-old Friesian gelding, who was a driving horse for most of his life. He’s a little curly in the contact, and rides like a 4-year-old, but is fun and forward and OH-so-pretty. I thought he was a good example of how forward forward forward makes a big difference in a horse’s topline and confidence—he was a little spooky with the audience, but once he got going he got much taller and braver.

Keeping with the pretty hairy horsey theme, I got on my mom’s Andalusian stallion, Tres, to show the “middle” horse—4th-ish level with a start on some of the upper-level work, but still getting strong in the collection.

He warmed up a little backed off my leg, but made nice tempi changes, and then he made a really good effort in the piaffe and passage. He gets a little pedestal-y in the piaffe (front legs under, hind legs out behind, with a backwards-and-quick tendancy instead of slow, springy steps), so I again noted that forward is the way to go.

Last of that demo was Princess Ella, who was in fine form. She had yesterday off (prepping for our Regional Championships, for which we leave on Wednesday; she needs some break time before we go) so she was a little tight in her neck and poll, but warmed up well, and then she was all business. She did half-pass, super passage, really good piaffe, and she ended with a stellar line of 11 ones. The crowd didn’t phase her one bit. Maybe my baby’s growing up!

I ended with Cleo, who rode the same freestyle we rode at the PVDA Ride for Life. It wasn’t written for her, so the music didn’t fit brilliantly, but it was very pretty, and she’s reasonably coordinated with the choreography.

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She actually felt quite good in the passage, maybe needed a little more go in the piaffe, but then she gave me a BIG screw you in the ones, then an even bigger screw you in my second attempt at them. After our halt-salute, we had a brief conversation about how I get to drive, always, even when she’s feeling sassy and showing off for the crowds (who were obviously all there for her, don’tchaknow), and she finally gave a big sigh and clocked off 15 like it was nothing. Schmuck.

In spite of Cleo’s Cleoness, the day was a huge success, and I’m really happy with how (almost) everyone went. It helped that the sun came out (for the first time in a week—wow!) and it wasn’t quite as nippy as it’s been. That was totally on us. That’s how good we are here—train your horses, get nice weather in. Ho hum, all in a day’s work.

Today is a much needed day off for me, especially since the Head Cold of Doom is circulating our merry stable, and I’m its next victim. And we leave on Wednesday for the Regional Championships (gonna see if my newfound Weather Controlling Ability will hold out through the show), where I am taking three horses, and have four of my five championship classes on Friday, from early morning to 9:05 pm. Woohoo.

LaurenSprieser.com
Sprieser Sporthorse

 

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