Week ten of the 2021 Adequan® Global Dressage Festival (AGDF) continued on Friday, March 19, at the Palm Beach International Equestrian Center (PBIEC) in Wellington, FL, with a winning ride for Adrienne Lyle (USA) and Harmony’s Duval in the FEI Grand Prix Freestyle CDIO3*, presented by Stillpoint Farm. AGDF 10 continues through Sunday, March 21, and the circuit hosts 10 weeks of international and national dressage competition until April 4. Free live streaming and on-demand of select classes are available to view at globaldressagefestival.com.
Lyle and Harmony’s Duval, Duval Partners LLC’s 2008 KWPN gelding by Rousseau, conquered the freestyle under the lights, riding to a score of 80.020%. “It was worth staying up past my bedtime!” she joked.
“There’s really nothing that compares to riding at Global on a Friday Night Stars,” continued Lyle. “It’s one of my favorite experiences in the horse world. To do this on Duval, who we had from when he was unbroke, all the way up to becoming an individual gold medalist here, is just really special. I’ve got an unbelievable group of owners that have supported me along the way.”
Lyle noted that her freestyle is from her previous mount Wizard in 2011 at Dressage at Devon, but thought it would fit well for her mount’s second ever freestyle.
“I wanted to go back to something I knew since Duval has done one freestyle in his life, so I could give him a good experience out there,” she explained.
Lyle and the gelding produced top performances all week, achieving the highest scores in both the grand prix and grand prix special before contesting the freestyle. “I started with the canter work with him [when planning the degree of difficulty]” she remarked. “I think he’s got some fun, powerful canter work. It’s not the most difficult freestyle out there nowadays. When I made it, they didn’t have the degree of difficulty score the way that they do now. But it still has double pirouettes [and] piaffe pirouettes, so it gets enough [degree of difficulty points]. I think it’s a really fun one; it doesn’t always have to be for him the most difficult every time he goes out.”
Judge at C Stephen Clarke (GBR) awarded Lyle with an 82.775%, and commented on her strong performance. “The reason why I gave Adrienne such a high mark,” he explained, “was an easy one – the hair on the back of my neck was standing up because the music and power and expression of the whole performance was outstanding.”
Second place went to the night’s youngest competitor, 21-year-old Benjamin Ebeling, who excelled in his first senior grand prix freestyle under the lights at AGDF with Illuster Van De Kampert, a 2008 Belgian Warmblood gelding by Speilberg owned by Amy Roberts Ebeling and Sasha Cutter for Nuvolari Holdings LLC.“
I was talking with my teammates Adrienne [Lyle] and Katherine [Bateson Chandler] and Jennifer [Williams], [about the fact that] it’s so cool that I got to grow up watching Adrienne and Katherine and people like my dad [Jan Ebeling] all ride on a team together,” he said. “Finally I’m here, and it’s surreal.”
Ebeling had a successful career in the Under 25 division and worked his way up to the senior level with Illuster. “I would be remiss if I did not mention George Williams and Charlotte Bredahl,” he continued, “going through the pipeline of junior, young rider, U25, and now the international grand prix. The support I’ve had from them has really been amazing. Like Adrienne said, I don’t think there’s anything like riding under the lights here. I’ve always wanted to do it for the last four years that I’ve been in Wellington. To do this for the first time is really, really cool.”
The pair had never ridden this freestyle together, and Ebeling noted that the “Star Wars”-themed ride had just been finished the day before. “It was ready yesterday, and I ran through it on foot before I got here. That was the first time ever riding to it,” he stated. “This is his first time competing for three days in a row. In the warm-up he was a little tired, which is to be expected. But then as we got in that arena, he perked up. Let me tell you, I had so much fun riding that freestyle, because I’m also a ‘Star Wars’ fan!”
He concluded, “I need to mention the support of the two owners, my mom, Amy Ebeling, and Sasha Cutter. They’ve been behind me all of the way and have been a big part of our development along with my dad who’s my day-to-day coach, and Christoph Koschel who has really helped me fine tune the horse. I’m so proud of his development. At the beginning of last season we weren’t doing so well, but we finally managed to calm down his nerves and bring a presence into the show arena that I’m so proud of, and I’m so proud of the whole team.”
Third place was awarded to Canada’s Brittany Fraser-Beaulieu and All In, Brittany Fraser and Marc Andre Beaulieu’s 2005 KWPN gelding by Tango, who received a 77.065% for their test.“
All In had to have 10 days off because he had really bad allergies,” explained Fraser-Beaulieu. “That’s why I had to withdraw from the five star. Personally he wasn’t as fit as I would have liked him to be for the Grand Prix and the Grand Prix Special this week, but each day I felt him get better and better.“
Tonight he felt like his old self again,” she said. “That, for me, made me very happy, and it was a relief to say, ‘He’s back, and he has this.’ He’s so fun under the lights. He has so much power, so much scope. Last time we competed under the lights was a year ago at Nations Cup. It’s always such a fun time.