Wednesday, July 18, 2012

Adrienne Lyle lives an American dream

From a cattle ranch to the Olympics


Adrienne Lyle and Wizard, posing at River Grove Farm. Courtesy photo

Ketchum's Adrienne Lyle is living the American dream.

From simple beginnings riding western on her parents' cattle ranch, Lyle, 27, is now a top dressage competitor.

She is headed to the 2012 London Olympics in August on Parry and Peggy Thomas' 13-year-old Oldenburg gelding named Wizard.

Lyle will be one of the youngest athletes to have competed in Olympic dressage.

Under the tutelage of U.S. Olympic dressage icon Debbie McDonald at River Grove Farm in Hailey, the duo rose through the ranks of competition over the past three years, paying their dues and perfecting their Grand Prix performance.

After a very impressive ride at the 2012 Festival of Championships at Gladstone, Lyle and Wizard earned a spot as individuals on the U.S. Olympic Dressage Team during the U.S. Equestrian Federation Dressage Olympic Trials June 16 at Gladstone, N.J.

They are headed to London to represent the U.S. and reap the benefits of their hard work.

"Adrienne is an inspirational rider and a true American athlete," said Heidi Zorn, president of Premier Equestrian, a company that sponsors Lyle. "We are proud to be supporting Adrienne and Wizard as they exemplify the talent, perseverance, and sheer dedication that our country has been built on. We know Adrienne and Wizard will represent our country well in London."

Lyle's equestrian career began the same way as many horse-crazy young girls in the West—trail riding in a saddle over mountains and hay fields.

Adrienne's father, Greg, is an investment advisor and attorney. Her mother Ann is a pediatrician. She has one older brother, Andrew, and is also a registered member of the Cherokee nation.

Her family was supportive of her riding and she had many ponies over the years. After joining a local pony chapter of the U.S. Pony Club at 7, Lyle had her first dressage lesson.

In addition to riding, Lyle spent much of her childhood sailing with her grandparents, who circumnavigated the globe and took their grandchildren sailing on their 40-foot sailboat, Foreign Affair.

Adrienne was also an avid ski fan. Her mother raced with the U.S. Alpine Ski Team for six years. Her grandfather helped start Crystal Mountain Ski Resort near Seattle, Wash.

But soon her passion for horses monopolized her time.

She competed in eventing and mounted games, but soon became fascinated with dressage. Her forte of dealing with challenging horses meshed well with dressage, which she found as a useful tool to improve the strength and suppleness of horses working in a variety of disciplines.

All this experience with difficult horses paid off when she crossed paths with Wizard. Lyle has worked at River Grove Farm under the tutelage Olympic dressage rider McDonald for the past eight years.

McDonald is a decorated rider. Her equine partner Brentina won a team bronze medal at the 2004 Athens Olympics, team silver and bronze at the 2002 and 2006 World Championships, and team and individual gold medals at the 1999 Pan Am Games.

When Wizard came to the Hailey barn as a five-year-old, it was immediately clear that he and Lyle were well matched in physical size.

Lyle is nearly six feet tall. That, combined with Wizard's large size and McDonald's petite five-foot stature, earned Lyle the ride on the talented young horse.

Wizard put in some truly magical rides over the past year, including top finishes in the Grand Prix Special at the 2012 World Dressage Masters and a win in the Grand Prix at the CDI 5 West Palm Beach.

Lyle acknowledges a close rapport with the gelding, whose brilliance is a byproduct of his power and personality.

"Wizard was a challenge, but I think any true success begins with a challenge," said Lyle.

"I am so grateful for all of the opportunities I've been offered, as well as the support of my coach Debbie McDonald, Wizard's owners, my parents, and my sponsors like River Grove Farm and Premier Equestrian."

According to Kenneth Braddick's recent article in Dressage-News.com. Lyle dedicated her quest to making the American squad to Parry Thomas, who will be 91 years old during the Olympics, and his wife, Peggy, 86. They own Wizard and River Grove Farm in Hailey where Debbie and her are based.

Braddick's article said, "Their contribution to dressage in the U.S., the way Debbie and Adrienne see it, is almost incalculable—from the ownership and support of their own horses and riders as well as to U.S. teams and to providing the money that led to construction of the Thomas & Mack Arena at the University of Nevada-Las Vegas that hosted the World Cups of dressage and jumping in 2005, 2007 and 2009."

For more information on Adrienne Lyle visit her Web site at www.adriennelyle.com.




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