Adrienne Lyle Strives to Push Herself, Grow and Become Better

Fri, 01/18/2013 - 11:55
Young Guns in Dressage

Loving horses for as long as she can remember,  Adrienne Lyle grew up on a small cattle farm in the USA and spent her days riding through the country trails and across the American beaches. Little did she know then that this 28-year old was to become the 2012 U.S. Olympic individual rider.

"I originally started out riding Western, then switched to English riding when I joined our local chapter of the United States Pony Club at age 7," the Ketchum, ID based rider told Eurodressage. "I remember showing up for my first dressage lesson with a Western saddle on my fat little pony. I competed in eventing for several years, but I soon became fascinated with dressage."

Not afraid to mount difficult horses, Lyle was immediately convinced of the power of dressage. "I would often get “problem horses” given to me to train and I found that, no matter what discipline the horses competed in, they all improved dramatically through dressage work.  I began competing at lower level dressage shows at age 13, and I was instantly drawn to the detail-oriented training, and the endless pursuit of perfection."

Competing in the 2012 Olympic Games was the fulfillment of Adrienne's life-long childhood dream and she felt the reality certainly matched up to everything she had imagined, and more. "It was such an amazing experience," she admitted. "What an incredible honor to ride for your country."

Her Olympic partner Wizard, a rising 14-year old Oldenburg gelding by Weltmeyer x Classiker, is owned by Peggy and Parry Thomas who bought the horse as a 5-year old, and to whom Adrienne is very grateful for their continued support. "I began working for the Thomas's in 2006.  They own the beautiful "River Grove Farm" in Idaho, where Debbie McDonald and myself train," she explained.

Meeting Parry when she came to River Grove Farm in the summer of 2005 as a broke college student, Adrienne arrived to inquire about some lessons from Debbie and has been there ever since. "Despite my low finances I managed to haul my horse over from Washington," she explained. "Luckily, a family friend kindly let me keep my horse at her barn for free, down the road from River Grove Farm.  I showed up on Debbie's doorstep and asked for some lessons, which ended up turning into a working student position. I was quickly introduced to Parry Thomas, and was able to bring my horse to his farm and work to pay for my board and lessons."

In addition to Wizard Adrienne has also been given the ride on Dax, a 9-year old Hanoverian gelding (by Don Fredrico), also owned by the Thomas’s.   She hopes to compete him in the small tour PSG/Int1 this show season. "Plus we have recently acquired three coming-5-year-old young horses into our barn. A Dutch gelding (by Rousseau), from a private owner; a Hanoverian gelding, that I partnered with Debbie McDonald to buy from Klaus Balkenhol, and a Don Shufro x Rohdiamant gelding, in partnership with Performance Sales International of Germany."

With two of the new horses not arriving in the US until February, Adrienne’s 2013 will be a year full of new beginnings as the youngsters will be introduced to life in America. "When I return to our winter home-base in California at the end of this month, and all the young ones arrive, we can get to work evaluating them and coming up with a plan that works for each one," she stated. "I hope to take them to some of the shows in California this spring."

Considering herself the "luckiest girl in the world" to call Debbie McDonald her trainer, mentor, and friend, Adrienne has been training with Debbie since 2005 and hopes to continue their partnership long into the future. "I love her philosophies and her training methods and we definitely "click" as a working partnership," she said. "We spend our summers and falls in scenic Idaho, which we call home, training out of River Grove Farm.  Then, for the winter-spring show seasons, we usually travel to California and base ourselves out of Linda Fowler's lovely Epona Farms. Debbie and I have a wonderful working partnership.  I think we make a great team and I see us staying together in the future, wherever that may take us."

Without the funding to just go out and buy top dressage horses, Adrienne knows she is lucky to have the ride on the incredibly talented Wizard, and Adrienne and Debbie are trying to pick out other talented youngsters that they can bring along themselves.  "Our plan for Wizard this year is to compete here in Florida and then head back to California for the rest of the spring show season."

Lyle hopes she can travel to Europe in half a year for some coveted European exposure. "I would really love to get Wizard and myself back to Europe this summer to compete in some big shows over there as I think it’s important that we keep a presence in Europe, and keep putting ourselves up against the best horses and riders," Lyle stated. "That is how you push yourself, grow, and become better!"

by Sarah Warne for Eurodressage
Photos © Astrid Appels

Related Links
The Return of Adrienne Lyle
Adrienne Lyle Wins 2008 American “Brentina Cup” Championship
Adrienne Lyle Wins World Cup Qualifier at 2011 CDI-W Saugerties
Adrienne Lyle Wins Grand Prix Special in Debut Appearance at 2012 WDM Palm Beach
Adrienne Lyle And Wizard Are Magical at $120,000 5* CDI at 2012 Global Dressage Festival