I don’t religiously read Chronicle’s blog posts, but sometimes a title jumps out at me that I just have to click on. One such post that stood out to me when I first read it was called “I’m Too Good For You, and Other Lies,” in which blogger Lauren Sprieser details all of the reasons why she loves working with beginners, and then ultimately encourages beginner riders to ride with the best instruction they can find, and further cautions riders away from any trainer that claims to be “too good” for somebody. I agreed completely with everything I read, and her statements just made me smile.

The post of Lauren’s that I happened to stumble on was August’s gem, “Embrace the Suck.” If you haven’t read this one, do so now. If you did read it, then I imagine her humor, as well as the message, resonated with you, as it did with every other horse person I know. Because the big exciting amazing moments are few and far between. Most of riding – either training the horse or learning to ride – is nitty gritty boring tedious work while you make a slow progression. And sometimes that nitty gritty boring tedious work sucks. But that suck is simply part of the game, so you have to learn to embrace that suck.

Just as I was starting to think I might like this Lauren character, two weeks after Embrace the Suck was posted, I received a call that my trainer was bringing Lauren in for a clinic in November, and would I like to ride? Absolutely! Unfortunately, weather and mid-week dates forced a reschedule to mid-December, but I promised to make myself available whenever the clinic finally happened. And so I found myself, on a day that more closely resembled spring than winter, packing the trailer to head to the fabulous Southview Farm to ride with Lauren.

Lauren’s humor did not disappoint, but her demand for excellence in the basics was clear with each horse and rider. She gave clear instruction and precise exercises to improve connection and gaits, and all horses improved dramatically! As for my own Banana, Lauren repeatedly praised her honest nature and boundless energy. Among many other exercises, we worked a great deal on spiraling in and out at the trot and canter to help improve her connection. Lauren’s expectations of us both were high but attainable, she gave excellent instructions to get us there, and did not withhold praise when we accomplished something (but then of course, the bar was set even higher!)

It was an exhausting and incredibly fun weekend, filled with new things we were easily able to replicate at home, and we can’t wait to ride with her again in the spring! And Callie is coming too next time!