Hello. It’s October. You haven’t heard from me since the end of August. I’m fine; nothing’s happened of note. I’m just… nowhere.
The hours are long right now. I’m pulling long days and longer weekends. And as an extrovert who recharges by socializing with others, having no time to do so has left me feeling a bit gray. Nothing serious. No one’s dying. I’m old enough and wise enough to know that this will end, and that’s a comfort. But I’m just nowhere.
My horses are well enough, for which I am grateful, but no one’s lighting the world on fire. Some setbacks, the usual, nothing calamitous. Baby horses also have their ups and downs and their plateaus, and I’m in the thick of it with all of them right now. I’ve made enough upper level horses to know that this is normal; this is the way of it. It’s not all Instagram-worthy all of the time. Frankly, if it was, I’d probably break them, and I’m in this for the long game. So I’m perfectly zen about it all. But I’m still nowhere.
My barn is busy and full, with humans and horses I like. How tremendously fortunate. My travel schedule has been particularly grueling, which I haven’t loved, but I’m grateful for the business, I’m grateful for all the humans organizing all the clinics I’ve taught, and I’ve enjoyed the group I show with. We’ve had some great results, including most recently a big hairy win for my longtime student and friend Abe Pugh and Alice Drayer’s tremendous Trakehner stallion Elfenperfekt at our regional championships, on what I think was his best Grand Prix ever. I had a productive summer vacation aboard The Elvis Syndicate’s Guernsey Elvis, and we demonstrated a lot of what we learned to great success at the regionals as well, though I also managed to whiff spectacularly in a few expensive things, so we’ll chalk that up to experience. We qualified for the U.S. Dressage Finals, brought home some uninteresting ribbons, and that’s that. Goal achieved but also less than I’d dreamed.
I’m not impervious to the good. In a time where not everyone has the staff they need, I’m so lucky as to have three fantastic working students to keep our program rolling. At a time where hay and grain costs have increased staggeringly, my clients have understood when I’ve had to raise rates. At a time where not everyone is so lucky as to have gainful employment, I’m teaching my ass off. The amazing man I married this spring still likes me (it helps that I haven’t been around much). In spite of not having been around much, my friends still talk to me. My cup overfloweth.
And yet… I’m nowhere.
Michael Barisone used to say that there are three types of riders: riders who make things happen, riders who wait for things to happen, and riders who wonder what the hell happened. He’d say it to inspire those who were content in their comfort zone, and it’s a great phrase. But sometimes it really is just a waiting game. I’d like to say it’s time for a plot twist, for a change in the soundtrack that cues the sign of big things to come, but that twist is going to find me one way or the other. I can’t make the baby horses mature faster, and attempting to do so is a good way to hurt them. I can’t make inflation stop, or bring down the prices of fuel, or solve an employment crisis.
What I can do is be nowhere well. I can keep showing up. I can be a friend to those who are worse off than I, and I can celebrate the successes of my tribe even if they’re succeeding beyond me. I can make quiet plans, I can dream in decades, and I can do everything in my power to stack my deck such that when the plot twist comes, I’m ready. I can be kind and fair and patient, even when it’s so, so hard to be patient.
I’ll finish one of the seven blogs I’ve started eventually. Elvis and I will either bring home a big ribbon from the U.S. Dressage Finals or not, but we’ll certainly go back to the barn seven minutes smarter each day. I’ll stop getting hurt (stop bucking, baby horses) and sick (the head cold/strep throat thing going around right now is no joke, people, wash your hands) long enough to actually go an entire month without missing a workout, and I’ll finish this seven-consecutive-weekends-in-a-row travel slog, and I’ll get to recharge my batteries and cherish the peace. Because sometimes being nowhere is kind of nice. The chaos will come again. I may not be enjoying the quiet, but I can certainly appreciate 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 and her own string of young horses with hopes of one day representing the United States in team competition. Follow her on Facebook and Instagram.