Adrienne Lyle’s formal equestrian education began in Pony Club and eventually led to an invitation to work for one of America’s most successful riders, Debbie McDonald. In 2006 McDonald’s sponsors, Parry and Peggy Thomas, gave Lyle the ride on their Oldenburg gelding Wizard, the horse that launched Lyle’s career in the big leagues, taking her to the London Olympics and Normandy’s WEG.

It is with the black stallion Salvino, however, that Lyle has enjoyed the most fruit from her labours. A team silver medal at last summer’s World Equestrian Games preceded this spring’s World Cup Final debut in which the pair finished seventh. Now it’s full steam ahead towards Tokyo with both Salvino and Harmony’s Duval in contention for the leading role.

Where’s home for you these days?

In the winter it’s Kylee Lourie’s TyL training centre in Wellington, Florida, and just a few weeks ago we moved the horses to our new summer home at Kylee’s in Denver, Colorado. For years we would go back in the summer to Sun Valley (Idaho) to the Thomas’s, but the River Grove farm was sold after Parry’s death. I spent last summer in Florida because I wasn’t sure what I wanted to do. Our new summer base is absolutely beautiful, very similar to Idaho. I love being in the mountains. The weather is great for people and horses here and there are miles of trails. It’s a really nice setup.

What’s a typical work week like for you?

I work six days a week wherever I am. I teach as well as train and hold clinics. We start at seven a.m. daily and I’ll normally ride seven horses, then give three lessons in the afternoon. The winter is very chaotic with all the competitions on top of training.

How did you get started in the business?

None of my family is or was into horses, but ever since I was a little kid I was 100% sure I wanted to work with horses. There was never a question in my mind. My parents were aware of this, but they insisted I go to college anyway. They knew I was just getting a degree to get a degree; it wasn’t like I was going to become a vet. I was in my junior year at Washington State when the job with Debbie came up. It was exactly what I had been working for all along, so they were very supportive of me. A working student position turned into an assistant job and then eventually sponsorship through Parry Thomas.

Was there a turning point?

Moving to River Grove Farm was for sure a turning point. My whole life, I’d been making a bit of a living training horses and giving lessons, so I knew I could do it in some capacity, although I didn’t know if I would have access to the high performance stuff – that can be very hard to attain. So being exposed to the world of high performance dressage through Debbie and the Thomases was for sure a turning point.

Were sacrifices made along the way?

For sure. You definitely devote your entire life to this. You have to accept that you have to sacrifice everything in your life to grab the opportunities. It may be inconvenient, but it doesn’t happen very often. If you don’t take advantage of an opportunity it may pass you by and go to someone else prepared to jump at it.

How would you describe yourself?

I think I am a very down-to-earth person. I enjoy what I do and I feel lucky every day. A lot of people determine success by winning a gold medal, but a lot of things have to align for that. And that cannot be your only driving force, otherwise you’ll be very disappointed. I try and enjoy every day and be thankful for every opportunity.

What gives you the competitive edge?

Put in the work. There are no shortcuts to success. You have to put in 100% effort every day and no cutting corners. I have also found that you have to balance your own competitiveness with the physical and emotional needs of an animal. I think it’s really important to never let our competitive drive get in the way of their welfare or their understanding. You have to be very sympathetic to the fact that they are not competitive by nature; everything they are doing for us is incredibly generous. Everyone should keep that in the forefront of their mind.

Tell us something about you that would surprise us.

People who know me know I am a huge outdoor enthusiast. I love hiking, camping, and rafting. What may surprise people is that I am also a huge fan of music festivals. I like all kinds of music and will go and see anyone who puts on a good live show.

When did you last go on vacation?

I have not had a vacation for years and years – in theory some day I will! I do take a weekend here and there to go back home and visit friends and family.

If you could relive a period in your life, when would that be?

It would have to be my childhood growing up on the farm. There are over 200 acres of amazing woodlands and fields and waterfronts we could explore on our ponies. We would go out when the sun came up and come back when the sun went down. It was really, really fun being a kid turned loose on a farm.

Where is your favourite place in the world?

I would say a tie between my family home on Whitby Island and Sun Valley, Idaho, where I lived the last 13 years. It’s a magical place up in the mountains.

Where would you like to go that you haven’t been?

I’d like to go hiking in Central and South America.

Do you have a health and fitness regimen?

I try to work out five days a week. I combine high-intensity heartrate-based interval training classes two days a week with Pilates three days a week. As riders we tighten and shorten our muscles a lot, but don’t spend enough time stretching and lengthening them.

Can you recommend a book or a movie?

Educated by Tara Westover – it’s a true story of a girl growing up in a survivalist family in the backwoods of Idaho. I’m a reader, not a TV watcher.

What’s your guilty pleasure?


Have you got a life lesson to share?

Learn to enjoy every day. It’s important to have goals in mind, but not spend your whole life living for the future. Take a moment and appreciate everything you have in the moment.

If a genie were to grant you three wishes, what would they be?

I would wish that I could teleport so I could go to all the places I would like to go to. I would also wish to have my own beautiful farm somewhere in the mountains and to continue working with horses in a sustainable way for the rest of my life.

Money or medals?

Medals, but neither are the most important to me. Obviously, I did not go into this sport to get rich!

What’s the game plan for 2019 and beyond?

We will compete in Luxembourg and Aachen this summer then back to Florida in November. Tokyo is our big goal. It’s a luxury having two horses at this level.

Burning ambition?

My biggest goal would be to be someone who is able to continue to produce grand prix horses. I really admire the Isabell Werths and Carl Hesters of this world who have not only done it on one horse, but with multiple horses. They are inspiring.