Adrienne Lyle’s Journey to New Partner Sandronnerhall
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May 10, 2015
By KENNETH J. BRADDICK
Adrienne Lyle can still hardly believe the journey from riding Wizard on the United States team at the World Equestrian Games to the formation of an ownership syndicate unusual in dressage that led to the arrival in America eight months later of Sandronnerhall as a prospect for Olympics and championships.
“It is an absolute incredible honor that these people stepped up to support me and Team USA, and I want so badly for it to be a success for everyone involved, so of course you will be a little nervous about everything, as well as incredibly excited,” Adrienne confided to dressage-news after the arrival of the charismatic black eight-year-old German-bred stallion.
Adrienne lives in Ketchum, Idaho close by River Grove Farm in Hailey where both Debbie McDonald, her long time coach, and Wizard have been based for the past several years. She rode the Oldenburg gelding at the 2012 Olympics in London.
Adrienne said she first got news of a possible syndicate forming a few weeks after she and Wizard returned from last year’s WEG in Normandy where the U.S. team placed fourth, better than expected.
“I was completely surprised and overwhelmed,” said Adrienne, who with Debbie had bought some affordable young horses a couple of years earlier to prepare for Wizard’s eventual retirement from Big Tour competition.
Adrienne, now 30 years old moved with Debbie to base herself in Wellington, Florida in winter where the Global Dressage Festival offers a schedule of seven CDIs with prize money approaching $700,000.
She and Debbie went to Europe in October in their first foray for a successor to Wizard that she had partnered at Grand Prix since early 2009.
“We didn’t find what we were looking for on that trip, so I proceeded to make several trips to Europe by myself during the spring of this year, as Debbie was so busy coaching in Wellington during that time.”
Adrienne looked at horses in Holland, Germany and Belgium, but the competition for horses that could be good enough for an elite team is fierce and prices for Grand Prix-ready mounts can run into the millions of dollars.
She called Debbie after every horse she tried to “discuss what I felt when riding it. I would send video clips and we would analyze them together over the phone.”
Jochen Arl, the Belgium-based horse dealer who had found Rosamunde as a successor to Ravel and Legolas for Steffen Peters as well as the talented Chopin and Donavan for owner Akiko Yamazaki to compete herself, in March pointed Adrienne to Madrid.
Near the Spanish capital was Sandronnerhall, trained and competed by Antonio Diaz Porras for Susana Vazquez Mostaza.
“When I rode him,” she said, “I called Debbie and told her I thought he was really special. I returned to Wellington, and about a week later Debbie came back with me to Spain to see him and watch me ride him.
“He is an incredibly handsome horse. Very charismatic and has a very sweet temperament. When he worked he looked scopey, powerful and supple.
“When I rode him, I loved his energy and enthusiasm for his work.
“After I rode Sandronherall the fist time I knew I wanted to bring Debbie over and have her work with us and see if she liked him as much as I did. I have a lot of confidence in Debbie’s eye and her opinion was important to the decision-making process.”
“Sandronnerhall became the clear choice of us. He had the talent and the presence we had been looking for, and he is a great age.”
She stayed for a few days both times she went to Madrid to ride Sandronnerhall and learn as much as she could about the stallion.
Adrienne is tall– six feet (182cm)–and while that was a factor “it’s not just about finding a tall horse, but a horse that really has that power and presence as well.”
Kevin Kohmann, the 27-year-old German rider who is based at Diamante Farm next door to the center where Sandronnerhall is quarantined, will lightly work the horse under saddle until Adrienne comes back to Wellington in about a month. Tracy Williams will be the groom.
Adrienne will fly with Sandronnerhall to Idaho to begin training with Debbie. The two humans and their string of horses now expanded by one stallion will move back to Wellington at the end of the year for the Global circuit.