“With him,” she explained, “this is his second year at the Grand Prix. He knows his stuff now, but we’ve been trying to polish it all up. We’ve done a lot of halt rein-back, a lot of cantering and halting, [and] just a lot of work with halts because he’s not a huge fan of them, so we’ve worked on those moments where he could possibly get distracted and lose points.”
Coming off back to back FEI wins in December, Lyle and the 13-year-old KWPN gelding again scored a double victory at the Palm Beach international Equestrian Center this week.
On Thursday, the pair kicked off the 2021 Adequan Global Dressage Festival with a win the FEI Grand Prix CDI3*.
“I was quite happy with him,” said Lyle, of their 71.304% score.
“He’s a little more nervous than I was anticipating. I don’t know if it’s the cooler weather or what, but he was a little on edge, which is interesting because we’ve shown here plenty of times before. There was a bit of a different horse in [the ring]. We lost a few points in our piaffe and passage, were lacking a bit of harmony and elastic energy, and that can be such a highlight for him.”
In Saturday’s FEI Grand Prix Special CDI3*, the pair repeated their winning ways, scoring a 74.830% from the judges to take the victory by three percentage points.
“He felt much more comfortable in his own skin [on Saturday],” said Lyle. “I was really happy with him. He felt much softer in his back, and the connection through the ride was a lot better than in our test on Thursday. He was really able to show off some of his highlights today, and I’m thrilled with the overall performance.”
She continued, “He’s always had a lot of talent for the collected work—the piaffe, passage, pirouettes. When he’s nice and supple and happy like he was [on Saturday], he really shows it off nicely. With him, we’re always trying to find ways to keep him relaxed mentally in his work. He tries very hard, and we always work to keep a very clear understanding between us about what I’m asking of him.”
What she won’t be asking of the grey gelding this season is an appearance in the popular Friday Night Freestyle or the World Cup Qualifiers at AGDF.
“We’re focusing on the Special with him this year,” explained Lyle. “We’ve chosen not to focus on the Freestyle or World Cup Qualifiers in hopes of making the short list to go to Europe with him.”