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Dressage rider Abi Lyle to maneuver 300 miles south to new base

  • The Westcountry has long been a popular part of the UK for professional riders to base themselves, and another top dressage rider, Abi Lyle, is set to move to rejoin those who call the region home.

    Irish world championship team member Abi Lyle will relocate over 300 miles from her current yard in Morpeth, Northumberland, to Chippenham, Wiltshire, next week, and there’s one specific person who is the main reason behind the big move.

    “I’m moving for a man, if you want to put it like that – and it’s Carl Hester,” joked Abi, who has trained with the Gloucestershire-based Olympic gold medallist since 2011.

    “I want to be close to my trainer, as well as the majority of the shows, and most of my teaching. I don’t want to keep going up and down, up and down.”

    Originally from Bangor, Co Down, Abi made the move to the UK in 2009, aged 24, securing a working scholarship with Pammy Hutton at Talland in Gloucestershire. She continued to ride and train in the south-west of England for the next 11 years, before moving up to Aberdeen just before the first lockdown in 2020 to base herself with Fenella Quinn, her friend and client, who recently bought Hawtins Delicato, the gelding Carl rode to team bronze at the World Equestrian Games in 2018. 

    In 2021, she moved south back to England, to Northumberland, but has now opted to return to where her dressage career first got off the ground, and will share a yard near Chippenham with Irish international rider Robbie McNeil. 

    “I had a life in the south-west of England from 2009 to 2020, so I’m going back to where I was,” explained Abi to her 23,000 Instagram followers. 

    Abi has rocketed into the world of top international dressage this year, being selected to ride for Ireland at the World Dressage Championships in Herning, Denmark, in August with her own Rousseau son Giraldo, aka Arty. The pair scored 65.71% in the grand prix in Herning.

    Abi, who will bring nine horses to Wiltshire, including her other international grand prix ride Farrell, credits Carl Hester as being the driver behind her success.

    “I’ve trained with Carl for 11 years and he is the best thing that ever happened to me,” she told H&H.

    “It’s hard to describe what it is that’s so great about him. He has that rare balance of being reassuring and encouraging, but also honest in a way that doesn’t leave you feeling terrible.”

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