Wellington, Fla.—Feb. 27
A crowd had gathered at the edge of the Adequan Global Dressage Festival’s main stadium before Adrienne Lyle and Salvino even entered the ring.
It’s been seven months since the 13-year-old Hanoverian stallion last graced the international stage. And as a front-runner on the road to team selection for this summer’s Olympic Games in Tokyo, onlookers gathered to see how the pair would fare in today’s CDI4* Grand Prix, the qualifier for Saturday’s CDI4* Grand Prix Special.
“In a year like this, you have to come out strong, especially when we did have a little bit of a break,” said Lyle. “I really wanted to make sure everyone knows that he’s been fit and great. He really does feel good, we’re just trying to think of the big picture and always make the best decisions for him.”
Salvino and Lyle didn’t come to disappoint, and they won the class with a 76.87 percent. It was their first FEI outing since the 2019 Aachen CDIO5* (Germany) in July.
“The second you make a plan to what you say you’re going to do, the rumors love to fly, but I think it’s almost a bit of a maternal instinct,” said Lyle. “You go, ‘What’s best for him?’ And that’s what I’m going to do. I don’t really care what anyone else says, and Debbie [McDonald, U.S. dressage technical advisor,] and Betsy [Juliano, Salvino’s owner,] fully support me in those decisions, so that’s great to have a backing of a trainer and an owner that will put his welfare first, always.”
Following their appearance at Aachen, Lyle and Salvino went to Denver, Colorado, for a few months of rest and recovery at Kylee Lourie’s TYL Ranch.
“They have an easy time there,” said Lyle. “Trail ride, we did video lessons with Debbie McDonald a couple days a week, but they always get a bit of a let down after Europe. We came back [to Wellington] November 1, and we’ve been training with Debbie ever since then.
“As they get to know their job more and more—I love that phase where they really do know it all—a lot of it’s managing his physical health, his mental health,” said Lyle. “Debbie and I pick on all the little things to get the points up. He knows his job, and he knows what to do now, so it’s lessons two, three days a week, and then he goes on the Aquatred, he goes on a hack. We do conditioning a little bit in the jumping field, and that’s been a big help for him because he does know his job. So, if we can just keep his body and his mind happy.”
In favor of preserving Salvino’s fitness, Lyle decided to skip the Feb. 19-Feb. 23 CDI5*, which McDonald used to vet potential U.S. Olympic Games team riders.
“For fitness reasons, we sat down and said, what would be the best plan for him regardless of anything else,” said Lyle. “I said, if we had one more week of building up his fitness, that would be great so, let’s do that. He met the criteria to not have to do it.”
Olivia LaGoy-Weltz and Lonoir took second with 72.93 percent. Canada’s Lindsay Kellock and Sebastien finished third with a score of 69.82 percent.
“I’m thrilled with [Salvino],” said Lyle. “That’s honestly one of the best feelings I think I’ve gotten there. He feels so happy, for lack of a better word. He just feels super excited to be here. Ever since he came on the grounds, he’s been puffed up and ready to go. I was really happy with how focused he was despite all of his energy. It’s actually a great combination to be able to ride.
“That’s always the balance that you’re trying to find,” she added, “and to be able to have that hotness and that fire and still have him be really rideable—no mistakes, a clean test, focused—was just wonderful.”
Japan’s Sweep Continues
Last week, it was Japan’s Kichii Harada who was subject to pictures and interview requests after he topped both the CDI3* Grand Prix qualifier for the freestyle and the CDI3* Grand Prix freestyle with Egistar at AGDF. (Read about Team Japan’s trip to Wellington.)
Today, he’s sharing the limelight with his fellow countrywoman Akane Kuroki, who won the CDI3* Grand Prix, the qualifier for Friday’s CDI3* Grand Prix freestyle, with the 16-year-old Dutch Warmblood stallion Zuidenwind 1187. Harada finished second aboard Fairytale S, a 16-year-old AES gelding, and the United States’ Nora Batchelder finished third with Faro SQF.
“He’s perfect for me,” Kuroki said of Zuidenwind 1187, “but I just got him around two months ago, so I don’t know how to control in the ring. But, at this moment, I’m quite happy. He did a very good job for me, and I also did control [him], so in the future, I’m very excited now.”
After finishing second to Kuroki, Harada won the CDI4* Grand Prix, the qualifier for Friday’s CDI4* Grand Prix freestyle, with Egistar, a 17-year-old Dutch Warmblood gelding.
Top Honors For Creech
Diane Creech of Canada won the CDI3* Grand Prix qualifier for the Grand Prix Special with Chrevis Christo. Their score of 67.93 percent qualifies them for Saturday’s CDI3* Grand Prix Special. Sarah Lockman and First Apple finished second on 67.34 percent. Batchelder and W Gangster Girl closed out the podium with 66.52 percent.
Be sure to check out the March 9 print edition of the Chronicle for more from AGDF, and follow along online with all of our coverage. Be sure to follow us on social media: Twitter I Instagram I Facebook I COTH Podcast