California’s Thermal Horse Park to Host World Cup Dressage in November

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The main Grand Prix arena at Thermal, as shown in photo taken shortly after show grounds opened. © Ken Braddick/

THERMAL, California, Feb. 3, 2020–Desert International Horse Park announced Monday it will stage a World Cup qualifier and a lineup of international and national classes Nov. 19-22.

The new Thermal competition of a World Cup, CDI3*/CDI1*/CDIAm/CDIU25/CDIY/CDIJ/CDICh/CDIP/CDIYH and a national show is scheduled a week after a World Cup event that is on the calendar for Temecula in Southern California Nov. 12-15.

This is the first international dressage competition in a decade at the show grounds that hosts major fall and winter jumper circuits. A CDI3* was staged there in 2010 (correcting earlier version that stated it was the first international dressage competition at Thermal).

With the Del Mar dressage show April 23-26 and the two November competitions, three World Cup qualifiers are on the calendar for this year that provide an opportunity for riders to fulfill the requirement of three events to earn scores toward seeking to qualify for the Final. The 2021 Final will be staged in Gothenburg, Sweden Mar. 31-April 5.

Dressage will be held in the horse park’s Grand Prix Arena with the Freestyle to be staged Saturday, Nov. 21 under lights in what management plans to be an expanding dressage circuit.

“We are thrilled to welcome dressage riders to Desert International Horse Park and to have the opportunity to host our first FEI dressage event combined with a World Cup qualifier,” said Steve Hankin, DIHP President and CEO. “We have been hard at work improving our horse park. We believe dressage riders will really enjoy the experience here.”

Thomas Baur, Sport Director of the Adequan Global Dressage Festival in Wellington, Florida and Monica Fitzgerald, Global’s Competition Manager, are working with the Horse Park management to develop dressage at Thermal.

Thomas Baur, who was discipline manager of dressage and para dressage at the World Equestrian Games in Tryon in 2018 and event director of the 2017 World Cup Final in Omaha, said:

“I am looking forward to organizing my first CDI in California. There are a number of dedicated and talented riders and horses on the West Coast who require good competitions to continue to grow the sport.”

The new owners and management at the West Coast facility, he said, have made a huge effort to undertake significant improvements to the facility and “my main goal is to offer a well run show that meets the needs of horses, riders, owners and grooms and provide the best atmosphere and conditions possible.”

Monica Fitzgerald has been appointed Desert Dressage office manager.

At about 30 acres/12.14 ha., Desert International Horse Park is one of the largest equestrian facilities in North America, offering a winter circuit of eight weeks and a two-week series in November.

Footing has been upgraded in all 12 competition rings, new shade structures built as well as increased stabling options.