Q & A with Victory Team Dressage Rider Adrienne Lyle
Vita Flex: Adrienne, you recently finished 4th at Gladstone and qualified to compete in Europe for a chance to be on the U.S. Dressage Team at the 2014 World Equestrian Games in Normandy. How important is it to you and Wizard to be selected for WEG?
Adrienne Lyle: Wizard and I represented the U.S. at the Olympic Games in London, which was the fulfillment of a lifelong dream. The WEG is the other pinnacle team competition for dressage, and it would mean a ton for us to make the team. But, that being said, Wizard has already given me so much, and I will be happy with him no matter how it all turns out. This is the third time he has taken me to Europe to compete, which is more than I ever could have dreamed of. I am humbled and honored to get to ride him and am so proud of everything we have already accomplished together.
VF: What does it take to be a world-class dressage rider?
AL: There are no shortcuts! There is no substitute for hard work and hours invested. You have to be disciplined in your everyday schooling. Be tough on yourself and fair to your horse. We usually school the horses four days a week, do cardio fitness work or hack them out once or twice a week, and give them one or two days of just resting and going on the euro walker. I also personally go to the gym about four days a week and do cardio as well as core exercises.
VF: Young equestrians look up to you and want to be in your shoes. How did you get your big break?
AL: I started at the bottom, cleaning tack and grooming horses. I did whatever work was required to pay for the lessons I received. From there, it grew into an amazing relationship and opportunity for me. I was rewarded and recognized for my hard work.
VF: What is one event or win that sticks out in your mind?
AL: The whole Olympic experience in London was incredible and more recently, winning the team and individual gold medals at the CDIO Nations Cup in Florida was amazing. I also always think back to the first year I went to Gladstone for the USEF Dressage Festival of Champions. We had a rocky start at the festival, but on the last day Wizard and I won the Grand Prix Freestyle in the pouring rain. It was our first victory playing with "the big boys" in the open Grand Prix.
VF: We can’t win all the events we enter, so what do you take away from the losses?
AL: I don’t dwell on a bad showing too much. With human error and animals being animals sometimes things just don’t go right and it’s better to put it out of your mind and move forward. Every time we go into the ring it’s a learning experience. Learn from your mistakes and make the necessary changes, but stay true to your training principle and trust your gut. Just because you didn't win an event doesn't mean you're not on the right path for you and your horse.
VF: What are your nerves like before an event and do you get more nervous for bigger shows?
AL: I think everyone feels some kind of nerves before a competition, but I’ve been fortunate to not have much nervousness or anxiety. If I do have to soothe my nerves, I’ll put on a happy song that makes me smile a bit. A couple of hours before an event I go into “competition mode” and get very focused on the upcoming test, but always make sure I remember that I need to enjoy every chance I have to go down centerline. We never know for sure what will happen in the future with horses, so we need to appreciate every ride we get on them and always remember to enjoy it!
VF: Thank you for sitting down with us! You and Wizard are such an awesome duo and we are so privileged to have you as a member of the Vita Flex Victory Team. Good luck to you both over the coming months.
AL: I am honored to be part of the Vita Flex Victory Team!! Thank you for your continued support!