California Dressage Circuit Expanding in 2022 With New Thermal Winter CDI Events

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By KENNETH J. BRADDICK

Two new international dressage events will be staged next winter at the Desert International Equestrian Park in Thermal, California, adding to two CDIs scheduled for the fall in the latest effort to expand competitions on the U.S. West Coast.

The new CDIs are scheduled for Feb. 17-20 and Mar. 31-April 3, organized by the Desert Dressage that has held two dressage World Cup events in the fall of both 2020 and 2021 and are on the calendar for 2022. The events are organized by Thomas Baur and Monica Fitzgerald, organizers of dressage at Global.

The February date is between competitions scheduled at the Global Dressage Festival in Wellington, Florida and one week ahead of Global’s CDI5*, the only top rated event outside Europe. The Global circuit of seven CDIs has become the most successful in the Americas. A group headed by Andreas Helgstrand and Ludger Beerbaum and backed by a Dutch investment fund bought the Palm Beach International Equestrian Center earlier this year but that did not include the Equestrian Village grounds where Global is currently staged.

The new Thermal events bring to six the number of CDIs in California in 2022–Sacramento and Temecula, that had been at Del Mar, in spring.

The Thermal facility, a major hunter-jumper competition center, was taken over by a group headed up Steven Hankin in 2019 that made substantial improvements and brought back dressage that had been absent for a decade from the show grounds 136 miles/218km southeast of Los Angeles.

Entries have been low in some international divisions–two pairs started in the World Cup and eight in the CDI3* Grand Prix that was reduced to four for the Special. However, national Grand Prix and Prix St. Georges divisions drew large numbers.

California equestrian events in some parts of the state are still hampered by Covid-19 restrictions.

This will be the third significant effort in the past decade to boost the number of California events–two separate series of Southern California shows in 2014 and 2018 could not be sustained because of high costs.