‘The best friend, teammate and partner’: Olympic medal-winning horse bows out from competition

  • Salvino, the world and Olympic silver medal-winning ride of the USA’s Adrienne Lyle, has been retired from sport aged 17.

    The Sandro Hit stallion was ruled out of action in February 2023 with a “minor injury”, but did not return to international competition. Before that he had won four international starts in a row, including scoring +85% in the World Cup freestyle at Wellington in December 2022.

    Yesterday (4 April) Dressage-News reported that Salvino had been retired. His owner, Betsy Juliano, told the publication that Salvino is “still quite fit and energetic” but that the process leading up to the Paris Olympics “would not be in his best long-term interests”. Salvino will “transition to a life of retirement”, including breeding.

    Adrienne paid tribute to the “best friend, teammate, and partner anyone could ever have”.

    “Salvino, I don’t begin to have the words to describe the depth of my love and gratitude for you. You were an absolute warrior in the ring,” she said.

    “You had my back every time we went down the centre line… if I was nervous you took the lead and showed me there was nothing to be afraid of. If I messed up, you picked up the slack and did it right anyway, if I doubted myself, you reminded me that we could make it happen, and when we turned up the final centre line and I would whisper under my breath, ‘Take it home, buddy’… I could always feel you raise another foot off the ground and give it your absolute everything.”

    Salvino was competed as a young horse by Spain’s Susana Mostaza and Antonio Porras, and Adrienne took on the ride in 2017. They were part of the US Nations Cup team in Aachen that year, finishing second.

    In 2017 Adrienne and Salvino were on the team that won silver at the World Equestrian Games in Tryon, alongside Steffen Peters and Suppenkasper, Laura Graves and Derdades and Kasey Perry-Glass and Goerklintgaards Dublet.

    At the Tokyo Games, Adrienne and Salvino and Steffen and Suppenkasper were joined by Sabine Schut-Kery and Sanceo to deliver the US dressage team’s best Olympic finish in 73 years, winning team silver.

    Adrienne added that Salvino taught her that “if you really believe in something, keep your head down and work until the rest of the world believes in it too”.

    “I am so glad I get to still greet your beautiful face every morning and saddle up for fun rides together, for years to come,” she said, adding thanks to Betsy.

    “Betsy, none of this would have been possible without your vision, dream, dedication, and unwavering commitment to Salvino. I am so thankful for your amazing support. And to Debbie McDonald for the years of expert guidance and help. None of this would have been possible without such an amazing team.”

    The Paris Games are still in sight for two-time Olympian Adrienne, with new rides 13-year-old gelding Lars Van De Hoenderheide and 12-year-old gelding Helix, for owner Heidi Humphries. Lars was formerly campaigned by Lottie Fry, and Helix was previously based with Swedish rider Marian Mattson.

    Adrienne made her international debut with both horses last month at the Wellington CDI3* in Florida, finishing second in the grand prix with Helix and third with Lars. She then won the grand prix special on Lars on +73%.

    You might also be interested in:

    Horse & Hound magazine, out every Thursday, is packed with all the latest news and reports, as well as interviews, specials, nostalgia, vet and training advice. Find how you can enjoy the magazine delivered to your door every week, plus options to upgrade your subscription to access our online service that brings you breaking news and reports as well as other benefits.

    You may like...