June 26, 2012
For as long as she can remember, Adrienne Lyle has been on a horse.After being introduced to riding as a young child, Lyle continued cultivating her passion on a family farm on Whidbey Island throughout her youth.
"I never had any formal instruction," Lyle said. "We had some ponies on the farm and I would disappear on them as soon as I was old enough to get on by myself."
The 2003 Bellevue High School grad will be far from her old stomping grounds but at home nonetheless when she and three other qualifiers head to London for the 2012 Olympics as part of the U.S. Dressage Team.
Now 27, Lyle began competing in Dressage at age 13, seeking a more challenging medium for her love of riding. French for, "training," Dressage dates to ancient Greece and is meant to develop a horse's natural athletic ability and willingness to work. Judges record scores on each movement on a scale of one to ten, measuring the horse and rider for gait, position, correctness and harmony.
"It is just such a challenging sport," Lyle said. "You can be the best of anyone in the world and not get 100 percent."
The chance to measure herself against the world's best required a comeback effort in New Jersey, where Lyle found herself in fifth place headed into the final day of competition. But thanks to familiarity with Wizard, the Idaho-based horse she has ridden for the past seven years, Lyle was able to close the gap just in time.
"We kind of had a rocky start," she said of the performance at qualifying. "I had to be really bold and go for it and we were able to pull it off."
While she described Wizard as "temperamental," Lyle said she has grown close to the Oldenburg gelding others struggled to bond with, even flying with him to competitions around the world.
just stand by him the whole flight," Lyle said. "Feeding him sugar cubes."
The youngest member of the team by over 20 years, Lyle said she is excited to take cues from some of the more experienced members of a team that will get underway on July 28.
"We (she and Wizard) are pretty green compared to everyone else on the team," she said. "This has been a dream forever."