Adrienne Lyle & Salvino Speaking Same Language as America’s Top Partnership Building for Olympics Next Year
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By KENNETH J. BRADDICK
WELLINGTON, Florida, May 19, 2020–Once Adrienne Lyle helped Salvino over the language barrier of hearing only Spanish in training, the stallion began showing the talent that brought the pair together for the American team.
Five years on, Salvino and Adrienne are the top ranked United States combination that just months before the Olympics were deferred for a year were producing the highest scores of their career.
“He spoke Spanish so we had a language barrier when he first arrived,” Adrienne jokes of the Hanoverian that arrived in Wellington with the name Sandronnerhall for the sire Sandro Hit and the damsire Donnerhall in May, 2015. The name was quickly changed to Salvino.
“It took a long time to learn a new system, but he never felt like he never wanted to do anything wrong. He was never punished for doing the wrong thing as Debbie’s approach is that he didn’t understand it.”
The Debbie she refers to is Debbie McDonald, the U.S. team coach and Adrienne’s personal trainer and mentor. Debbie was personal coach of Laura Graves and Verdades and Kasey Perry-Glass and Dublet before she succeeded Robert Dover in the official position of technical advisor.
Adrienne had proved herself as an international competitor, having gone to the 2012 Olympics and the 2014 World Equestrian Games on Wizard that she first competed in 2008 after going to work for Debbie at River Grove Farm in Hailey, Idaho. The horse was owned by Peggy and Parry Thomas who also owned the superstar mare Brentina ridden by Debbie.
She had no horse to succeed Wizard. A group of supporters who believed in Adrienne’s talent formed a syndicate that bought the stallion with a résumé of only young horse and Spanish national competitions.
“We always thought he had talent, but we took our time and didn’t show him at all the first year we had him,” Adrienne said, “knowing he had it in him.
Salvino moved to the big time three years ago by competing on Europe’s largest stages, the World Equestrian Festival in Aachen, Germany and at Rotterdam after just two Grand Prix starts at the Global Dressage Festival in Wellington.
At the same time, Horizon, an Oldenburg mare, was in Adrienne’s string and captured the 2017 U.S. Intermediate Championship. A supplement that the manufacturer admitted had been contaminated in production led to the International Equestrian Federation to pursue a prohibited substance case but the U.S. federation stood firm in keeping the championship with the duo.
The following year, Salvino was bought by Betsy Juliano, also the owner of Horizon, and a prominent supporter of American dressage. Betsy is a successful entrepreneur in a legal service business she created.
Adrienne and Salvino have been a hugely successful partnership.
“He really feels like he is in a place in his mind and body where he’s able to be consistent and not be stressed about doing any of it,” said the 35-year-old Adrienne, “being confident in his own work.
“He’s such a special horse. I can’t put into words how much I admire his character.
“He’s one of those who is half-human, half-horse. He really gets it. I always feel if I mess up he’s there: ‘I got it. I’ll help you out on this. Your aids are way off’.”
“He’s amazing, he’s the coolest thing I’ve ever sat on. There were glimpses of this. There’s something so cool in there–so supple and so elastic in his movement.
“It’s just taken us a while to corral all of that. I always hoped he was going to be this special. It takes time and there are people who wonder what you’re doing there for a while.”
Adrienne wasn’t concerned at the time although she had been out of international competition for three years. The people who wondered were a tiny few, including some media in Europe.
“This horse already took me to the World Games and the World Cup,” she pointed out. “If we were to make it to the Olympics, it’s just amazing.”
Barring anything unforeseen, Salvino will be 14 years old by the time of the Olympics in Tokyo next year.
In what was a well thought-out schedule ahead of the Olympics being deferred, Adrienne and Salvino showed off their American No. 1 status in their one competition so far this year with a personal best score of 80.170% in the Grand Prix Special. The importance of the score was not only was it their best ever, the Special will decide Olympic team medals.
Adrienne and Salvino are only the third American combination to achieve that mark.
Steffen Peters and his dual Olympic mount Ravel scored 80.289% in California in 2012 while Laura Graves and Verdades did it three times–80.644% at the 2016 Olympics, 81.824% at Aachen in 2017 when they beat German superstar Isabell Werth on Weihegold OLD in the Special and 81.717% at the 2018 Tryon World Games to win individual silver in addition to team silver.