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Adrienne Lyle Is Puttin’ in the Work, Work, Work

It’s been a year since American Olympian Adrienne Lyle rode down the centerline in international competition.

But make no mistake, the Tokyo Games team silver medalist has been hard at work. The new mom—Lyle gave birth to daughter Bailey six months ago—is juggling the demands of a new baby and two new international mounts.

And with a new Olympic year upon us, she didn’t waste anytime getting back in fighting form.

Lyle was back in the tack on her Olympic mount Salvino three weeks after her daughter was born. It took three months, she said, to regain her riding fitness.

“I worked really hard at physical fitness and workout routines to be fresh because when I looked at the calendar, I was like, ‘Oh wow, [the Olympics] are pretty close.’ On January 1, I wanted to at least be feeling like I could go down centerline somewhere if I wanted to.”

Last month, she retired her Tokyo Games medal winning partner, ending their storied career with 26 FEI victories since 2017. That same week, she debuted two new mounts—and immediately reclaimed her position as one of USA’s leading contenders for the Paris Games.

Related: As One Door Closes, Another Opens for Adrienne Lyle’s Salvino

Those horses are Lars van de Hoenderheide (Negro x Layout), a 13-year-old Belgian Warmblood gelding previously campaigned by Great Britain’s Charlotte Fry, and Helix (Apache x Jazz), a 12-year-old KWPN gelding previously campaigned by Sweden’s Marina Mattsson.

Both horses have competed up to the 4* level. As of April 8, both are ranked in the top five on the U.S. Paris Olympic Games Ranking List.

They’re likely to climb a few spots when the next update is released, too.

In three days, Lyle won three 3* classes—on both horses—at the World Equestrian Center Ocala.

Lyle’s winning week started on Thursday with a win in the CDI3* Grand Prix on Lars van de Hoenderheide.

The pair topped a 12-horse field by a 2% margin, riding to a score of 72%. It’s a nearly 1.5% improvement over their debut Grand Prix score of 70.652%, earned in Wellington, Florida two weeks prior, and 3.78% off the horse’s personal best of 75.783%.

Lars van de Hoenderheide. ©Andrew Ryback / WEC
Helix. ©Andrew Ryback / WEC

On Friday, Lyle kept the wins coming with Helix in the CDI3* Grand Prix, besting a field of 24, again by a 2% margin (73.065%). In three Grand Prix appearances, the pair has improved by a full percentage point each time.

The American Olympian captured her third victory in as many days on Saturday, riding Helix to the win in the Grand Prix Special with a score of 71.553%. It was a smaller margin win, just half a percent over runners up Endel Ots and Zen Elite’s Bohemian (71.021%), and two and half points lower than their personal best of 73.979% earned the week prior.

“Helix is coming off of three weeks of intense showing, traveling and training, and it’s catching up a little bit with him,” explained Lyle.

“He felt a little bit tired today, so we didn’t go pedal to the metal full power. However, I think for the long term when you’re trying to develop a relationship with a horse it’s really important that they know you’re never going to ask more than what they’re capable of that day in the ring. He still went in there and did everything I asked, and I think that’s really important.”

The only 3* class Lyle didn’t win at WEC this week: the Grand Prix Freestyle. Making her Freestyle debut with Lars van de Hoenderheide, she finished second on a 76.145% behind veteran partners and Pan American Games individual gold medalists Julio Mendoza Loor and Jewel’s Goldstrike (77.055%).

In three CDI events back, Lyle hasn’t finished off a podium with either of her two new mounts.

“To be able to have the opportunity to try [to qualify for Paris 2024] with two different horses is really amazing,” she said. “It’s a mental game for sure and I have a lot to figure out how to ride them each to the best of their ability. But I’m surrounded by an amazing team. I have an amazing trainer, amazing owners and grooms. I feel very fortunate.”

Eight hopefuls will be named to the U.S. dressage short list by May 8. Between May and June, all eight will be required to compete in at least two CDIs, one of which must include the Le Mans CDI4* (FRA), Hagen CDI3* (GER), or Rotterdam CDIO5*-NC (NED).

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