Adrienne Lyle Reaches New Highs in Making Salvino Into USA Olympic Team Prospect
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July 10, 2019
By KENNETH J. BRADDICK
When a black stallion with the name Sandronnerhall that seemed more apt for a Western horse than an Olympic dressage mount stepped off a truck in Wellington, Florida in 2015, he came with a hefty price tag for scant accomplishments but sky high hopes that Adrienne Lyle could create a partnership for a future American team.
Adrienne had no CDI horse at the time after the retirement of Wizard that she competed at Olympics and World Equestrian Games.
Four years later, a change of the horse’s name to Salvino and a change in ownership and Adrienne and the stallion now 12 years old have a world championship silver medal team performance in the record books and with a year to go to the Tokyo Olympics is posting scores in Europe that are the best in her career. And a couple of months ago, Adrienne was one of fewer than 20 riders in the world with three horses on the global ranking list of more than 800 combinations.
Adrienne and Salvino, ranked 22nd in the world, are on the United States team heading into the premier horse show at Aachen, Germany next week, the most competitive team event in which Americans at Big Tour can participate this year. The pair will be in the spotlight after producing the career high scores at Grand Prix and Grand Prix Special at Luxembourg CDI4* last week. Adrienne will also compete the American-bred Harmony’s Duval in the accompanying CDI4*.
Aachen team mates are Shelly Francis on Danilo, ranked No. 18 in the world; Steffen Peters on Suppenkasper, a WEG medalist team mate also aiming for Tokyo, and Katherine Bateson-Chandler on Alcazar returning to Aachen for the first time since 2016 when the horse had to be operated on for life-threatening colic.
World Games team mates Laura Graves on Verdades (No. 3) and Kasey Perry-Glass on Dublet (No. 5) are taking time away from top competition ahead of Tokyo.
Laura and Verdades have spent more than five years hop-scotching to championships from the World Games in Normandy, France in 2014 that established the pair in the top tier of the sport; World Cup Final in Las Vegas and team gold and individual silver at the Pan American Games in Toronto in 2015; Olympic team bronze medal at Rio de Janeiro in 2016; World Cup Final runner-up in Omaha, Nebraska, team gold at Rotterdam Nations Cup and team silver at Aachen in 2017; World Cup Final runner-up in Paris, Nations Cup team silver at Aachen, team and individual silver at Tryon WEG in 2018 and World Cup runner-up in Gothenburg, Sweden in 2018. Qualifying for the championship teams required competing through the winter-long Global Dressage Festival in Wellington and European summer circuits.
Verdades will be 18 years old in 2020 and Laura has made it clear if the horse she has partnered since a foal wants to go to Tokyo he will be fit and willing.
Adrienne, who has worked for and been mentored by Debbie McDonald, the U.S. team coach, for one and a half decades became a figure in American dressage when she took over competing Felix and Wizard, horses owned by Peggy and Parry Thomas. The Thomases owned Brentina that was one of the most successful U.S. horses on whom Debbie became the first American World Cup champion as well as Olympic and World Games medalist. The Thomas family is known the world over for their name on the Thomas & Mack Arena in at the University of Nevada in Las Vegas that has been the site of multiple World Cup finals of dressage and jumping and will be so again next April.
Wizard was ridden by Adrienne for the U.S. at the 2012 Olympics and the 2014 Normandy World Games. Then, she had no mount.
Adrienne didn’t seem too concerned at the time.
“It’s funny because to me it didn’t seem like I was out of it for that long,” Adrienne recalled, “because I was working away harder than ever at home to create new Grand Prix horses.
“It’s, of course, the goal to get to be in the big ring, but I also love the training process so much that I don’t feel a panic when there is a lull.
“It’s so much fun to try to figure out each horse and find ways to develop them.”
Akiko Yamazaki, the longtime supporter of Steffen Peters with Ravel, Rosamunde, Legolas and Suppenkasper among other horses, was key to finding a top horse and essentially underwrote the purchase of Sandronnerhall until a syndicate could be formed. Sandronnerhall, an amalgam of the names of the sire Sandro Hit and damsire Donnerhall, had been competed in young horse CDIs in Spain but developed a reputation for not behaving well as he was ridden in national classes.
A syndicate called Salvino Partners LLC became the ownership group.
Meantime, Elizabeth “Betsy” Juliano, a highly successful entrepreneur, had Adrienne ride Horizon, a horse she had bought as a youngster at the P.S.I. auction in Germany. Betsy then bought Salvino out of the syndicate for Adrienne to keep competing.
“The acquisition of Salvino was incredible for me!” Adrienne said. “He has taken me places I have always dreamed of and Betsy is an incredible owner to ride for.”
In addition to other significant contributions to American dressage, Betsy has also been a financial supporter of Laura Graves.
She also owns Handsome, a small tour horse that Jennifer Baumert has been selected to ride on the U.S. team at the Pan American Games in Lima, Peru the week after Aachen so she will earn lots more frequent flyer miles if she wants to see both horses compete.
The journey with Horizon, though, has been a roller coaster. The duo became U.S. Intermediate 1 champions in 2017 at the same time as being pursued by the International Equestrian Federation (FEI) for a banned substance found in the horse that had been in a supplement tainted in production, admitted by the manufactuer.
Horizon moved up to CDI Grand Prix in the 2018 Florida winter circuit. However, after surgery last fall the Oldenburg mare was injured in the recovery room and is taking a year off.