Wellington, Fla.—Feb. 19
While she’s never been a part of a team competition, Adrienne Lyle proved a worthy anchor as she led the USA I team to the top of the scoreboard on the first day of the Wellington Nations Cup CDIO***, held at the Adequan Global Dressage Festival.
Lyle and Wizard earned a 71.60 percent in the Grand Prix CDIO*** over her teammate Tina Konyot riding Calecto V (69.86%). “I was really happy with him today,” Lyle said. “I thought he’s getting consistent in there. This is the first time I’ve ridden in a team environment. I went to the Olympics as an individual [in 2012,] so [today] was a little added pressure. I thought it went really well.”
The USA I team, which also includes Silva Martin on Rosa Cha W and Shawna Harding on Rigo, lead the competition on 212.802, while Spain (Marta Renilla on Presumido, Carlos Munoz on Klouseau, Paula Matute on Tarpan Ymas and Juan Matute Jr. on Don Diego Ymas) sit second on 206.895, and USA II (Catherine Haddad-Staller on Mane Stream Hotmail, Shelly Francis on Doktor, Ashley Wimmer on Sommerhall and Justin Hardin on Wyatt Star) are close behind in third on 206.853.
For the second year, each team is allowed a combination of small and large tour pairs. To make the scoring even, 1.5 percentage points are added to every Grand Prix rider’s score. Riders on the small tour rode the Prix St. Georges test today and will ride the Intermediaire I test tomorrow, while the Grand Prix riders will ride the Special.
Lyle, 29, Ketchum, Idaho, has been enjoying the team camaraderie and support throughout the week. “Just to have everyone ringside for your ride knowing that they’re rooting for you. There’s obviously more pressure, but it’s a fun pressure.”
Lyle has partnered with Wizard, a 15-year-old Oldenburg gelding (Weltmeyer—Pica, Classiker) owned by Peggy Thomas, for eight years. He was off most of last year due to an injury to his coffin bone and Lyle gave him extra time off to help it heal. This year, she’s found he’s come out stronger than ever.
“He feels 110 percent from where he was,” she said. “I don’t think it bothers him at all. I think he’s in a better place even then before it happened. His piaffe is getting a lot more honest, a lot more reliable. He’s there for me and we’re not having to second guess and skirt around issues.”
The pair topped the AGDF CDI***** Grand Prix Special two weeks before and Lyle believes she’s found the key to making Wizard happy.
“A lot of it is just managing him mentally and physically, giving him days off after the show, going for trail rides and just touching briefly in and out with our schooling, really trying to wiggle down the amount of time we’re on him,” she said. “Today I was on 20 minutes before my ride, walked for five minutes and about a 15-minute warm up and in we go. He’s starting to finally kind of get the routine down so it’s less stressful for him.”
A Dream Come True
It was tough to miss the Spanish supporters waving their red and yellow flags as Juan Matute Jr. entered and exited the arena on Don Diego Ymas.
The 16-year-old, who’s been dominating the Intermediaire I ring during the AGDF this season, did it again, winning the Prix St. Georges CDIO*** (71.65%) to the delight of his teammates and fans.
“We’re a bit crazy!” he said. “We’re very passionate about our flag and about our team. I think it’s great because when you go in the ring and you hear that audience and that team that’s important to you screams your name, I think that really puts you in the mood. It helps you when you’re in the ring, it gives you more confidence.
“We had a fantastic ride,” he said of the 11-year-old Hanoverian gelding (Don Frederico—Wie Plantine). “A couple of mistakes here and there, but overall I thought it was a clean ride. There’s a super connection between Diego and I.”
Matute Jr., Wellington, Fla., is looking forward to tomorrow’s Intermediaire I test, especially considering he’s coming off of three straight wins at that level. “I think as the level increases, he likes the pressure and the more challenging exercises,” he said. “I think we both enjoy the I1 better.”
Second-placed Leida Collins-Strijk (70.23%) is also looking forward to tomorrow’s more challenging test for West Side.
Based in the Netherlands, Collins-Strijk is spending her first season in Florida. West Side, an 11-year-old Dutch Warmblood (Florett As—Marina, Equador), may be a pro in the ring now, but the homebred gelding didn’t catch her eye at first.
“He was always the ugly one that I really didn’t want to ride because he was too ugly,” she joked. “My husband [Tim] had always said he would be a good horse, but I thought he was a regular horse. He was sweet and we carried on with him and in the last two years he [started behaving at the shows] and learned piaffe and passage and had a lot more talent than I thought. So he was right! Now I think he’s one of the better horses I have.”
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The Intermediaire I CDIO*** starts tomorrow at 11:32 a.m. and the Grand Prix Special CDIO*** starts at 4:02 p.m.