Today we bombard Grand Prix dressage rider Lauren Sprieser with questions about how she got to be so awesome and how Horse Quencher fits into her stable management program.
Top photo: SusanJStickle.com
Based out of Clearwater Farm in Marshall, Va., Lauren Sprieser is one of the most exciting up-and-comers in the dressage world.
For starters, Lauren a beautiful rider and USDF Gold Medalist who makes even the most complicated movements look easy like Sunday morning. And it’s not like she’s hopping on a pre-made horse and pushing the buttons–Lauren has produced five horses to the Grand Prix level herself and she’s just in her 20s! She’s also a gifted coach with a talent for breaking sophisticated concepts down into easily digestible pieces. On top of it all she exudes a fun, girl-next-door sort of personality, which is a real breath of fresh air amidst the formalities of dressage culture. You can tell she is genuinely passionate about her horses and her sport, and gets excited about sharing the love with other riders.
Recently Lauren was kind enough to take the time to answer a few of our questions:
HN: Most young riders just want to run around and jump–they lack the patience and discipline for flatwork. When did you discover that you wanted to do dressage?
LS: I didn’t have a choice in the matter. I’d ridden Western at summer camps and on family trips, but when I wanted to get serious about riding and take actual lessons, the barn I grew up around the corner from only offered dressage lessons. It honestly didn’t occur to me to even seek out another discipline until I was quite far on in my dressage journey.
It ended up being a perfect fit–my neurotic, detail-oriented, geeky brain was designed for dressage. But it was fate that brought us together.
Baby Superstar: Here’s a video of Lauren winning the Young Rider Grand Prix at the 2009 USEF National “Brentina Cup” Championships in Gladstone, NJ.
HN: I never grew out of that run-and-jump phase. However, I took a lesson from you last summer (which I wrote about here) and you actually accomplished this amazing feat of making dressage seem FUN–and clearly you must think it IS fun if you choose to do it every day, all day. What’s your secret?
LS: My secret is that I do legitimately find it fun. I like nuance and I like control, and installing the fine controls on a horse? Teaching them to respond to the lightest touch, to achieve perfect balance, to coil and release energy like it’s nothing? That’s my Heaven.
And I see dressage everywhere–in a rider’s ability to teach her trail horse to stand quietly while opening a gate, between the fences of a beautiful hunter round, in the moment before a horse checks cross-country, then surges off again on the other side. It’s like addition and subtraction for the calculus geek–it’s the beginning and end of everything. I believe in it, and when you’re really passionate about your product, it’s a pretty easy sell.
HN: What qualities do you look for in a dressage horse?
LS: I want a horse that takes pressure. When I try horses, either for me or my clients, I always put a challenge to them that’s beyond them. What do they do when I really drive like the devil with my leg? What if I ask for more collection than they’re capable of, or for a flying change, or for a really steep lateral movement? Do they do nothing, not even try? They’re not for me. Do they get snippy? Not worth it. I want a horse who digs in and gears up for the fight, and they have to want to fight for me, not with me.
There’s all sorts of other things–movement, body type, age, height, blah blah blah–but when the character is right, the rest is just details.
HN: When you’re not riding, teaching, training or traveling, what are you doing? I’ve seen some Facebook posts indicating that you’ve gotten involved in a different athletic endeavor.
LS: I am, slowly but surely, learning to Have A Life. A few years ago I had this client who I was sure I was going to kill, so to cope with the stress, I decided to go for a walk, and I was still skeeved as I was about a quarter mile from home so I decided to run the rest of the way. And that’s how I got into running–it was stress relief, plus I’m not exactly a hard keeper, and I like food too much to give it up, so I had to find some other way of fitting into my shadbelly.
I ran some 5ks and an 8k last year, but I was struggling to find the time to train for any longer of a race, so I decided to do a Sprint Triathlon this Spring (that’s a 1/4-mile swim, a 15-mile bike and a three-mile run, usually), and now I’m a junkie for those, too. The exercise is great, of course, but mostly it’s something at which I can compete–there’s a tangible way to track my progress–but that has nothing to do with horses, and at which it is totally OK if I suck.
HN: How does Horse Quencher fit into your stable management program?
LS: I’m based in Northern Virginia, which is awesome horse country, but isn’t Significant International Dressage Country, so when I want to show at a CDI, it’s at least a six-hour drive, and really more like eight, plus 17 to Wellington, FL. That’s a lot of hours on the road, and years ago I had a horse colic badly on a van from dehydration, and it really freaked me out.
When I was introduced to Horse Quencher, I was skeptical–its claims seem too-good-to-be-true–but sure enough, it’s like a magic trick. Stick some in the bucket and watch your horse inhale it up. Amazing. Now I don’t travel without it, and I always make sure I have some in the kit for the shows, because you never know what skunky local water your horses might have to drink away from home.
Horse Quencher is a mix of grains and flavorings that, when added to water, make horses eagerly drink. You’ll find Horse Quencher especially helpful for travel, competitions, cold weather and illnesses, and also great to pair with electrolytes to aid in recovery after exercise. And, since it’s made of all-natural ingredients found in most horse feeds, you can be sure Horse Quencher is safe for competition.
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