In 2014, Adrienne Lyle took a step back from the International Arena after retiring her long-time partner and 2012 Olympic mount, Wizard. After an almost three-year hiatus, Lyle returned to the International stage this past winter at the Adequan® Global Dressage Festival, introducing her newest FEI Grand Prix mount, Salvino, to the dressage world. Lyle and the 2007 Hanoverian stallion (Sandro Hit x Dynastie x Donnerhall) owned by Salvino Partners, LLC, rode straight to the top, achieving top honors in their first FEI CDI3* Grand Prix Special together.
Check out what Adrienne recently had to say about her newest horses, her summer, and her goals for the upcoming 2018 season!
You made your first appearance back in the International Arena during AGDF 2017, with Salvino. What did that feel like, for you to be back out there competing?
“Global is such an incredible place to show, and the International Arena has such a great atmosphere to it, it was wonderful to get back in there. Even when Wizard was still competing, we were getting young horses and bringing them along, breaking them, and starting them. It takes years of putting in the work, so even though nobody sees what is going on, you kind of disappear out of the spotlight for a while. It was really great to come back with three strong, high quality horses.”
What did your show season look like after AGDF 2017?
“In the spring of 2017 we had the USDF Festival of Champions, and I had two horses in the Small Tour competition. Horizon, owned by Betsy Juliano, who ended up being the Champion of the Small Tour, and Harmony’s Duval, owned by a syndicate, who came in third overall in the Small Tour. I also competed Salvino in the Grand Prix, and he ended that Championships with the Reserve Champion placing.
The Small Tour horses went home after that and had a little vacation, and Salvino and I went to Europe. We did Rotterdam as an individual. I had no plans on doing a team competition because this was his first European Tour and we’d only done one other CDI before in Wellington, but he was really quite good, he rose to the occasion and ended up being named to the US Nations Cup team for Aachen.”
Can you tell us about your partnership with Horizon and Harmony’s Duval?
“I took over the ride on Horizon about two years ago. I had been stable over at Betsy Juliano’s for the last several years, and so I got to know her through having my horses there. She saw our program and saw the way that we teach the horses, so she knew what we were all about. When it came time for her to make a rider switch, it was a natural transition. It’s been a wonderful relationship; she’s an incredible supporter and Horizon is an incredible mare. She has one of the best work ethics of any horse that I’ve ever ridden, any doubts that you have, she just goes right out there and proves you wrong. We won the I1 Championships at Gladstone this past year, so my goal for her now is to move up to the Grand Prix this season.”
“Duval has been in my life ever since he was a youngster. He came from the Malone’s in Colorado, at Harmony Sport Horses as a five-year-old, and he hadn’t been saddle broke or anything at that time. He was sent to us to get started, and I fell in love with him from the moment that I first saw him. He’s had various owners, but they’ve always managed to keep him in my program. He’s got an incredible engine and has incredible talent, and I’m hoping that he can also move up to Grand Prix this season as well. There is a possibility that I might have three horses at Grand Prix by the end of the 2018 season, which is pretty exciting.”
You have been riding with Debbie McDonald for over 10 years. What is one of the most important lessons that you have learned from her?
“Training with Debbie has always been such a great dynamic. Even physically, we are very different. I’m almost 6-feet tall, she’s right around 5-feet. She cannot use strength as a rider, she is to petite to do that, and I’m so glad that I got put into her program, because strength was never an option for me, to think that I had to use strength to complete my riding. Her whole program is really focused on making the horse sensitive to the lightest aids, and really teaching them to react to the smallest of signals. That’s the biggest lesson that I have taken away from riding with her, sometimes if something isn’t working, you have to go back and figure out what is being miscommunicated so you can redefine it with the smallest aid, and never have to use brute strength or put too much pressure on them.”
Moving into the 2018 winter show season, what are your goals?
“This coming year, our goal with Salvino is to try to get a spot on the team for the World Equestrian Games. With that in mind, we will pick and choose our CDI competitions down in Wellington throughout the season. There will also probably be a European trip planned for next summer, depending on what the team wants everyone to do.”
Photos courtesy of Adrienne Lyle.