Two days. Two 5* victories. And this Connecticut native’s year is just getting started.
World Equestrian Games team gold medalist Adrienne Sternlicht (USA) did not have the winter season she hoped for in Florida. With her top mount injured and a mid-circuit shoulder injury herself, the 25-year old found herself sitting out most of the Grand Prix classes.
“It was a really long winter and with my top horse out, Cristalline, and some younger horses or newer horses to me that I’ve been developing, it can get defeating at times,” said Sternlicht.
“A competitive person like me wants to be in the big ring jumping the Saturday Night Grand Prix and having success doing so.”
[Editor’s note: she did help team USA win a Nations Cup at the Winter Equestrian Festival and was ranked top 50 in the world at the time. So there’s that.]
As of this week at the Longines Masters of New York, Sternlicht’s spell on the sidelines is officially over. Following a quick “reboot” at home after her winter in Wellington, she’s back in the main ring and, more importantly, back on form.
In two days at NYCB LIVE, Home of the Nassau Veterans Memorial Coliseum, Sternlicht has claimed two consecutive 5* victories, aboard two different horses.
Her streak started when she sped into the winner’s circle on Thursday with Fantast in the Masters One EQ Exchange 1.45m. On Friday, she topped a seven horse jump off with veteran partner Toulago to claim the Prestige Italia 1.55m, as well.
“I can’t really believe it,” smiled Sternlicht after claiming her second win of the week.
But if there’s one place that team USA’s rising star always shines it’s in the post-round interview. In seven minutes, Sternlicht delivered enough storylines to write five posts, which means she’s unofficially in the lead for “Best Rider Interview” this week, too.
Here are 10 things to know about the Sternlicht’ life with horses at this moment.
1. She built and moved into her own farm
“I just built a stable next to the house I grew up in, which is really special for me. My mom lives there. I didn’t grow up with a horse family or around horses. We kind of called on every horse person’s opinion while we were building the stable.
“For me, it’s really special having my horses a 20 second walk from my home. I actually live in New York City, but I haven’t spent a night there yet. I just keep hanging around the barn,” smiled Sternlicht.
2. But she’s not breaking up with trainer McLain Ward
“The idea is [I would bring the] horses I was taking [to the show] to school at his farm,” she explained. “I plan on continuing to collaborate with him for as long as he’s willing to help me.”
3. She is ready to test her wing though
“I think I’ve reached a juncture in my riding where I want to fail on my own a little bit,” continued Sternlicht. “I have a little time before I have any major goals coming up, so it’s a really nice experience for me to have a little bit of trial and error and I think [having my horses at home] will provide me with a space to know my horses even better.”
4. Her shoulder is better, but it’ll never be 100%
“I’ve been doing a lot of physical therapy. I decided not to operate,” she revealed.
“I know I have certain limitations now because my injury is something that will not heal, so I have to be a little more cautious about what I will and will not do. But I’m feeling confident and I know I can trust my horses, which is the most important part.”
5. Also, she’s been working out like mad
“Anytime I get home from Florida I have this reboot where I start working out really intensely again. I think the change in environment gives me an extra boost of energy, so I’m feeling really good,” she said.
6. Cristalline is her BFF but Toulogo is her heart horse, too
“I have an amazing partnership with [Toulago]. He is the biggest character of any horse I’ve ever been around and that’s a testament to not just my closeness with the horse but to my grooms—they shower him with love,” said Sternlicht.
“He really fights for me, I think. A win with [Toulago] is almost more meaningful to me in some capacities. While I consider Cristalline my best friend in the world—and that’s special in itself—I think he’s an amazing horse with a heart of gold and any time he competes like [he did tonight] it makes me really proud.”
7. Toulago is Mr. Dependable
“I’ve had [Toulago] for nearly three years. He’s been unbelievable,” she said. “We bought him sort of as my seasoned grand prix horse. I actually bought him at the same time we purchased Cristalline, who was only eight at the time. He’s been a very reliable horse. I know I can always call on him.”
8. And he’s has exceeded her expectations
“He’s had to step up a bit more than I think maybe we anticipated with my two other top horses not competing in the big classes,” she continued.
9. But she’s conscious of setting him up to succeed
“I will jump him in the Grand Prix on Sunday,” she confirmed.
“I was thinking of not jumping him in today’s class [at the Longines Masters of New York] and jumping a schooling round yesterday in the 1.45m. But not knowing what they were going to build on Sunday with the caliber of riders here and my experience with him this winter, I thought it would be better to aim for [Friday’s Prestige Italia 1.55m CSI5*] as my target class with him and then anything on Sunday is a bonus.”
10. Sternlicht wanted to ribbon before, now she’s aiming FTW
“After the world championships, it was such a high for my riding. A high that surpassed anything I thought I would do. It’s taken some time for me to settle into what that title and achievement means and how I can bring it into my riding in a positive way rather than measuring everything against that, which for me is quite negative. Because nothing is ever going to measure up to that experience,” revealed Sternlicht.
“For now, the biggest thing I want to work on—I was actually watching on the treadmill, Daring Greatly by Brene Brown; her Netflix special is awesome—is to not just be in my comfort zone. Last year leading up to the world championship, I felt like everything mattered that I did and I definitely was a bit more reserved.”
Watch the Longines Masters of New York on EEM.tv.