Upcoming HITS Buzz

Seems the momentum from the 2011 HITS Desert Circuit, which had the largest number of entries since 2007 and a sold-out DC V, helped to propel the spring and summer show series in Saugerties, New York and Culpeper, Virginia to equally healthy seasons. Attendance and entries at both Culpeper and Saugerties are fueled by the interest and excitement from two upcoming mega classes – the second-annual Pfizer $1 Million Grand Prix and the first ever Diamond Mills $500,000 Hunter Prix – which will make for the richest day in show jumping history on Sunday, September 11, 2011 at HITS-on-the-Hudson.

In fact, qualifiers for these two signature show jumping events are breaking records from Thermal to Ocala and continuing east to Saugerties, with scores of exhibitors entering for their chance to compete for show jumping glory. The Devoucoux Hunter Prix continues to draw juniors, amateurs and professional hunter riders, in huge numbers, which is making for some really exciting updates to the Diamond Mills Rider Rankings as we begin to near the end of the qualifying season on Saturday, September 3, 2011.

The Pfizer Million is a beacon for High-Performance riders all season long, attracting both top national and international riders to each of the five HITS venues. West coast riders represent a strong group within the Top 40 Rider Rankings and many are expected to make the trip east to compete for this year’s coveted crown and first-place $350,000 check!

With the summer show season nearing its conclusion, HITS is ramping up the forces for a spectacular grand finale for Pfizer Million Weekend, which will include a spectacular performance by Motown legends, The Temptations. After that, attention shifts to the 21st Annual Marshall & Sterling National Finals, where the top League Members from around the country will gather to compete for year-end championships in more than 13 divisions.

No rest after that event, as the focus shifts into high gear for the 2012 winter season. All indicators suggest another stellar year for the HITS Desert Circuit.

HITS Desert Horse Park for 2012 Desert Circuit Updates

By all accounts, the 2011 HITS Desert Circuit was the single best season of show jumping since 2007 when the new show grounds in Thermal debuted. Circuit discounts for permanent and tent stabling, coupled with the appeal of four World Cup qualifiers, 16 qualifiers for the Pfizer $1 Million Grand Prix, and five Devoucoux Hunter Prix qualifiers for the first-ever Diamond Mills $500,000 Hunter Prix Final, helped to attract large groups of returning customers, as well as scores of new comers. The maturation of the show grounds brings the property to life, with customers seeing first-hand the vision and promise that the HITS Desert Horse Park holds for becoming the top winter show destination in the country. Property updates that added atmosphere and color to the show grounds had an immediate and positive impact on trainers, exhibitors, owners and spectators, alike.

For 2012, HITS management plans to once again expand upon property enhancements with some major renovations that came right from the suggestions of top riders and trainers who have been loyal to the circuit for years. Thousands of new trees and desert-friendly shrubs are taking root. We are building new berms that will create enhanced sightlines and atmosphere. Hunter riders will be happy to see the new row of maturing palm trees going in along the berm facing the airport on the east end of the show grounds.

Three new rows of permanent barns will soon be added to the property behind the vet building to provide additional inventory for exhibitors interested in permanent barn accommodations. Foundation work for that project will be underway this month.

The $200,000 Grand Prix of the Desert returns next year and all Grand Prix, including the four World Cup qualifiers, and all Devoucoux Hunter Prix will once again qualify riders for the Pfizer Million and Diamond Mills Hunter Prix final in September of 2012.

HITS recently held a call with the West Coast Trainer & Rider Committee to discuss additional plans and priorities for the 2012 season. If you have an idea or something to share, please see a member of the Committee, listed below, or email[email protected].

2012 HITS Desert Circuit Trainer & Rider Committee
Tracy Baer, John Bragg, Shelley Campf, Archie Cox, Lori Derosa
Rich Fellers, John French, Joie Gatlin, Karen Healey
Susie Hutchison, Rudy Leone, Guillermo Obligado

Our Own March Madness

For all the basketball fans out there, we’re not stealing your term, it just seems to fit. We are well into the madness of many horse show circuits as March comes to a close. The HITS Desert Circuit crowned its final champion on March 13th as Lucy Davis won not just one but four grand prix classes on her two mounts, Hannah and Nemo 119, during the final two weeks. More about the desert buzz in this issue’s Sporting Splendor. The FTI Winter Equestrian Festival is starting week eleven (out of twelve), with the biggest money class of the circuit, the $500,000 FTI Consulting Finale Grand Prix, on Saturday night. The circuit culminates on April 3rd with the Hunter Derby Finale as the final Saturday night class. By closing day, the three-months of consistent horse shows will have awarded close to $6 million dollars in prize money.

During the time when the world comes to Wellington, a number of social and charity events spread their wings to embrace the captured audience. Hosts of innovative occasions fill the calendar, including the Step by Step Charity Poker Tournament. Read a bit more about this international night that benefits a worthy cause.

Although always west coasters down deep, many not only flock southeast for the winter, some never leave. One of those converts is featured in this issue, Rebecca Johanson Hofmann. Although only in her twenties, this Wellington woman knows what she’s after. Take note – there’s a new California statute regarding the disclosure of commissions with sale horses. Read about it in Full Disclosure in this issue.

Santana Stables is seeking an “A” level show jumping rider, with American citizenship and fluent in Portuguese, to join their team. To learn more, visit the Santana site and click News.

As Wellington comes to a close, Blenheim EquiSports is just getting started. Opening with three shows in San Juan Capistrano, the Spring Series, their idyllic southern California season stretches into September. And it doesn’t end there. This year Las Vegas National in November will be even better than last year, with NAL finals and more. With 16 Grand Prix events, 4 Hunter Derbies, 6 Medal Finals and classes for every level in 3 fabulous locations over a nine-month period, when are you planning to come?

Sponsor Stories: Royal Champion

By Erin Gilmore

Royal Choices for Horses
Choosing which supplement to give your horse is a little like walking down the grocery aisle at Costco; the sheer volume of choices can be overwhelming.

But when looking at the history and reliance of Royal Champion supplements, the choice suddenly becomes simple. Thirty-five years after its inception, the company that has its roots in the racing industry is still going strong.
Royal Champion Supplements
Dr. Trevor Cook, Royal Nutritionist to England’s Queen Elizabeth II, developed Royal Champion in the early ‘70s. Since then, the product has evolved into a line of supplements whose specific benefits range from hoof strength, muscle conditioning to coat shine. In 1992, racing trainer Dianna DiCastro bought the worldwide rights to Royal Champion and extended its reach across the pond to the California racing community, and later the hunter/jumper market.

Fed in powder form over grain or bran, Royal Champion can be given all year round, and benefits horses both in training and off. Considered a multi-purpose supplement, Royal Champion provides hoof and joint support, making it a popular alternative to feeding a handful of different supplements. Joie Gatlin and Odyssey

The high levels of vitamins A and D, and macro and micro-minerals in Royal Champion give it broad-reaching benefits that affect the whole horse. Without exception, Joie Gatlin, of Joie Gatlin-Morley Abey Show Jumping in San Juan Capistrano, puts all new horses that come into her barn onto the Royal Champion program.

“Whenever we have new horses come into the barn, we put them on it,” Gatlin comments. “Once we’ve had them on the product after 30 days we always see a difference in their energy and their coat.”

Joie uses Royal Champion with her entire string of horses. “It’s been a staple in my feeding regiment for fifteen years,” says Gatlin. “From my grand prix horses to the amateurs, all of my horses are on it. I think it can rival any other products of its kind out there.”

The benefits of recovery are a key factor for Joie and other users of Royal Champion. While the Premium and Premium Plus supplements replace any inconsistencies that might surface in a horse’s daily hay ration, the nutritional benefits also help going grand prix or high-level performance horses recover quicker after an intense workout. Hap Hansen is another longtime user of Royal Champion, and attests to the significant difference in his horses’ coats, condition and quick recovery time after a tough round.

Riders that use Royal Champion prove with their performances that they’ve literally found a winning formula for their horses; at the 2010 HITS Desert Circuit, Gatlin won the March 6th $50,000 World Cup Qualifying Grand Prix with Camaron Hills Quick Dollar. Olympian Guy Thomas followed in fifth place with Carino. But on March 14th, during the concluding class of the circuit, Thomas scored his biggest finish of the season, coming in second in the $300,000 Lamborghini Grand Prix of the Desert with his longtime partner Peterbilt.

Thomas’ trainers and parents, Butch and Lu Thomas, have made Royal Champion part of their program since 1998. As coaches of the North American Young Riders team and directors of a multi-facility training program, they use Royal Champion vitamins in their stables. “We run a very busy business, and are on the road at least 25 weeks of the year,” says Guy. “Royal Champion helps our horses stay in condition and deal with the stress of travel so I can depend on them in the ring. It will always be part of our supplement program.”

So when shopping for supplements, perhaps the above accolades will help you make a decision to try Royal Champion. In 30 days or less you may see a difference in your horse’s performance.

A Life Story: Anthony Alfaro

By Anne Polli

Life can change in the blink of an eye. A phrase we’ve all heard, one most of us have uttered a time or two, but no one can recognize the truth of that expression better than Anthony Alfaro. In a split second one late February afternoon in 2007, events were set in motion that would see Anthony’s life change forever. There was fear, sometimes incredible pain, uncertainty, and countless medical procedures, but if you are expecting to feel sorrow and pity, think again. This is a story of a young man with courage, resilience, and an indestructible spirit.

Anthony is a “horse show kid” in every sense of the word. Nearly fifteen years ago as a young teenager he tagged along with his dad, Andy Burney, and began working on the ring crew at some California shows. He gained experience and knowledge and in a few years began working as a starter and announcer. Anthony’s good looks, sense of humor, easygoing nature and killer smile made him a favorite of exhibitors and staff alike and by early 2007 he was running a gate at the HITS Desert Circuit shows.

Late one afternoon he was driving back to the hotel with friends and co-workers, Arturo (Speedy) Dias and Zack Price. Anthony’s car was stopped at a red light. When the light turned green, he began to proceed through the intersection and the car was t-boned in the driver’s door by another car that had run the red light. All three friends were hurt badly, Zack injured his back and Speedy, his knee, but Anthony took the brunt of the impact and was in an instant fighting for his life.

Ask Anthony his recollection of the accident and he will tell you he remembers sitting at the intersection waiting for the light to change and his next cognizant moment was waking up almost a month later in the hospital. In that time, he had surgeries to repair damage to his heart, diaphragm, intestines, and trachea. He had no medical insurance.

After nearly two months in the hospital, Anthony returned home to Sacramento. He spent several months recuperating but in the back of his mind, he had bills to pay, a son to support, and he felt well enough to return to work in June of that year.

Everything went well for several months but by November he was starting to experience some back pain. He visited a chiropractor however gained little relief. By the winter of 2008 he was starting to experience knee pain as well. Without medical insurance, Anthony visited medical clinics regarding the back and knee issues. No additional tests were performed and while the problems continued the solution was to prescribe more and more medications. By the Pebble Beach Summer Shows last year he knew he was not getting better and he was in constant and severe pain.

By fall of 2008, he could not keep any food down and his family took him back to the emergency room. He was in the hospital for several weeks while they ran exhaustive tests finally finding that the material originally used to repair his aorta, (damage sustained in the car accident) was dropping off and traveling throughout his system causing blood clots in his stomach and both legs.

At that point it was back to the operating room, first for surgery to repair the original work on the aorta and place a stent and at the same time do some vascular work on one leg. Several days later the doctors performed another surgery doing more vascular work on Anthony’s other leg. For two months, this round of surgery seemed to do the trick yet soon his left leg was numb and tingling and his toes were beginning to turn black.

While advising Anthony that the only way he would get better was to amputate a portion of his leg, the doctors said they would not force him, it was a decision only he could make. He thought about it for almost two months before he decided to go ahead.

It would seem likely that the trials of the last two years would have created a bitter and depressed man, but nothing could be further from the truth. Anthony today is a man with no leg pain, in fact, no pain in general. He has been fitted for and is walking with a prosthetic leg. His face is free of traces of the distress that was his constant companion and when asked how he feels now his answer is just one word, “Grateful”.

Anthony is thankful for all the support he’s had from others in the last several years. “I’m amazed at the love other people have shown for me,” he says.

His grandmother, Susan, has taken care of Anthony in and out of the hospital. He says that she has made sure that he can recover and get back to life. “She’s made sure that I have no worries in my everyday life…food in the kitchen, no rent to pay.” Anthony currently lives with her and his son, Anthony (“Lil’ Ant”).

In addition, his dad, Andy, and his sister and cousins step in to do whatever is needed. Friends have been there from the beginning doing whatever they can be it contributions of money, time, or assistance. Anthony says, “Whenever I couldn’t take care of myself there has always been family or friends to carry me through. I couldn’t ask for more than that.”

The support from family and friends has been a great motivator. “There are so many people that didn’t give up on me, I can’t give up on myself. I won’t lie, there are times I just laid down and cried but I can’t give up. That would be letting down everyone, I would be spitting in the face of the people who helped me.”

Though he plans to work at a few shows this summer, Anthony has enrolled in college for the fall semester. “I grew up at the shows, it’s part of who I am, but I’m a father, I’m responsible for someone else. I guess this showed me I had to grow up and be a responsible adult,” he says with a grin. He also admits that he enjoys going to Little Ant’s basketball practices and weekend games as well as spending weekend time with family, things he’d miss if he were working full time on the show circuit.

There are still challenges ahead, there are monstrous medical bills to be paid and the legal ramifications of the accident will be addressed at a trial beginning in November. And though he is adapting to his prosthesis quite well, he acknowledges that the adjustment to his image in the mirror is slow.

But throughout, that same word keeps cropping up. Grateful. “I just feel this was all a challenge to better myself, to be a better father, to support my son. I have no regrets. I just think this is something I had to go through to make me who I am. I have to learn to keep it simple, to be positive. I’m still sociable, I still go out, hang out with my family, I’ll continue to live life. All of this just added a couple of years to the original ‘life plan’.”

As someone that considered himself spiritually “in tune” before the accident, Anthony asked himself repeatedly why this tragedy ‘hit’ him. After listening to his story, it is difficult to comprehend the trauma Anthony faced and how in the wake of such an event, has been able to uphold a positive attitude. It illustrates that through all the painful challenges he has been given a gift, the gift of life and he receives it with open arms.

EquestriSol News: April 13, 2009

We are pleased to announce websites for Harley Brown and El Campeon Farms:



And look for pages of 2009 HITS Desert Circuit achievements from Waldenbrook Farm in the latest edition of ShowBiz Magazine.

Congratulations to everyone on a great winter season and fabulous start to the spring. Contact us to be a part of the EquestriSol newsletter: [email protected] | 310.930.2744

See you at the World Cup!

2009 HITS Desert Circuit Wrapup

Sunday, March 22nd

Will Simpson and a
Junior Posse Member
Photo © Suze Randall

Eight weeks of horse showing ended with a bang, but not the one West Coast equestrians expected. After an almost flawless two months of weather, Mother Nature kicked up her heels and blew, blew, blew almost everything down on Sunday, March 22, the final day of the 2009 HITS Desert Circuit.

The much anticipated $150,000 HITS Grand Prix of the Desert, along with the remainder of the show schedule was cancelled. The show management decided to split the grand prix prize money amongst the 38 entrants, so they all walked away winners. The day was disappointing from a competitive aspect, but certainly a kind gesture from HITS and the safest decision for all involved.


Six riders from the Compton Junior Posse battled the gusty winds at the showgrounds on Sunday for a chance to ride with Olympic Gold Medalist Will Simpson. Through the power of horses, this special California-based organization keeps inner-city kids “on horses and off the streets” by teaching responsibility, discipline and increasing self-esteem. With a mission to establish the first inner-city high school equestrian team and charter school, which in turn will allow students to become eligible for equestrian scholarships, the Junior Posse is hosting a fundraiser on May 30th at LAEC honoring Will Simpson.


Catena Leading Lady Rider Award: Ashlee Bond

Awarded to the overall leading female Grand Prix rider based on points accumulated during the HITS Circuit. 2009 is the first year for this award.

The Platinum Performance Leading World Cup Qualifier Rider: Ashlee Bond

Awarded to the Grand Prix rider with the most money won in the four World Cup Qualifying Classes at the HITS Desert Circuit. 2009 is the first year for this award.

Potcreek Meadow Farm Junior Sportsman Award: Richard Neal

As a Junior rider, Richard demonstrated consistently good sportsmanship, ethical and respectful behavior both in and out of the show ring.

Jimmy Kohn Style of Riding Award: Joie Gatlin

Sponsored by Karen Healey Stables, this award goes to the Grand Prix rider who best exemplifies the style of equitation as modeled by Jimmy Kohn.

SHALANNO Style of Riding Award: Lucy Davis

The Junior Jumper rider who not only exhibits the best American style of equitation as modeled by Olympic Medalists Joe Fargis, Conrad Homfeld and George Morris but is also respectful, dignified, courteous and workmanlike in the manner of a true sportsman.

Michael Patrick Perpetual Trophy: Titleist 8 and Didi MacKenzie

Sponsored by Cathy Hayes, this trophy is awarded to the Circuit Grand Champion Amateur-Owner Hunter.

The Jennifer Marlborough Freeman Memorial Trophy: Hollister and Alison Baileys

Awarded to the High-Point Mid-Circuit Amateur-Owner Hunter.

Saturday, March 21st


Caroline Ingalls and Redfield Farm’s Lazio
Photo © Flying Horse Photograph

Always popular with competitors and spectators, the $10,000 ASG Software Solutions/USHJA International Hunter Derby returned for Week VIII. Mountain Home Stable’s Rumba with John French aboard did not disappoint, repeating their winning streak by capturing the win in both the classic and handy rounds. Simply striking to watch, Rumba exemplifies the High Performance Hunter.


Friday, March 20th


Junior rider Caroline Ingalls won the coveted Ronnie Mutch Equitation Championship on Friday night. In a unique format that illustrates a true horseman, competitors must walk, prepare and ride the courses without any outside training assistance. The first course includes gymnastics, trot jumps and other technical questions. Then riders are called back in reverse order to ride a second round. Competitors are judged by two sets of judges – one for their performance in the arena and the other for their preparation in the schooling area. Challenging for the exhibitors as well as giving the trainers a much-needed break, it is interesting for trainer and spectator alike to watch how these junior riders perform under this type of pressure. Offered for the second year, this class is held in honor of R.W. Mutch, who back in the 1950’s won medal finals at the age of 15 and rode for the USET at age 18.

Friday, March 20th


Congratulations go to the superstar team of Rich Fellers and Flexible, owned by Harry Chapman, who topped a field of 51 riders to win the $25,000 HITS Grand Prix. With 15 clean over the Olaf Petersen (Germany) course, the race was on for the win. Six of those 15 went double clean, with Fellers and Flexible stopping the clock at a smokin’ 38.276, next fastest was Mandy Porter aboard San Diego, with a time of 39.326. Both of these teams are in the running for the World Cup, with one qualifier left to go, Mandy is currently ranked third in points with Will Simpson and Rich a close fourth and fifth. Third in this $25,000 class was hot shot Ashlee Bond, riding her fantastic Cadett 7. Catapulting to the top of the World Cup point list, Bond had an unbelievable circuit winning two of the four World Cup Qualifiers.

Week VII Highlights:


HITS DC VII was a hit for Grand Prix riders Jill Henselwood and Richard Spooner. Canadian Henselwood was hot on Friday, March 13th when she earned both first and second in the $25,000 HITS Grand Prix on Juniper Farm’s Special Ed and Black Ice respectively. With 56 horse and rider combinations vying for prizes, Henselwood took home just over half of the $25,000 purse.

Spooner topped that one-two win with a one-two-three victory in the $50,000 HITS Grand Prix on Sunday, March 15th. Having three of the four clean rides over the Marina Azevedo (Brazil) course, Spooner had the advantage in the jump-off. He set the time to beat at 43.68 with his first ride on S&B LLC’s Ace. His second jump-off ride aboard Pako was also clean, but not fast enough to take over the top spot. Spooner did manage to beat his own fastest time when piloting Peter Farlinger’s Cordoba around the shortened course in 41.52. That left Guy Thomas and Peterbilt, who had an unfortunate ride to the second jump. Knowing he wouldn’t catch Spooner, Thomas voluntarily withdrew from the jump-off and finished fourth. As the HITS Desert Circuit all-time leading money winner, Spooner protected that top spot by winning $32,500 of the $50,000 purse.

Here are additional links for the 2009 HITS Desert Circuit:

Week III newsletter
Week VI newsletter
2009 HITS Desert Circuit press page


Here are links to some notable charitable efforts going on in our sport. The latest news from Jessica Newman’s Just World International means that now anyone can become a member and technical officials are now jumping on as ambassadors. Click here for the details and here for the JWI web site.

The Equestrian Aids Foundation hosted a carnival recently where Grand Prix greats got dunked for charity. See the press release and photos by clicking here.

Ronnie Mutch Equitation Classic

By Laura Ware 

The newly added championship week at this year’s HITS Desert Circuit brought many exciting new classes. One of them was the prestigious Ronnie Mutch Equitation Classic, which has previously been held at the Winter Equestrian Festival in Florida. To qualify for the classic, riders must have won a USET, USEF, ASPCA Maclay, or WIHS medal class at any of this year’s winter circuits.

This class is unique in that it does not allow the riders to communicate with their trainers during the time that the class is being held. The riders are also judged in the schooling ring. This year’s winner, Carly Anthony, was gracious enough to answer a few questions for us regarding this special class.

Laura: What was the format of the class?

Carly: There were two rounds. The first one was a jumper course that had a very demanding first line which challenged everyone. The judges definitely rewarded the people who took risks. Even if the round wasn’t perfect, they liked the fact that a rider was willing to put it on the line. The second round had tests which were also very difficult. There was no work off, but I believe there would have been if the judges had had more time, because the scores were very close. Laura: What was it like not being able to communicate with your trainers?

Carly: I LOVED IT! It was a great chance to use all that I have learned from my trainers and prove to them that what they teach me doesn’t go in one in ear and out the other; it actually stays in there.

Laura: What was it like to be judged in the schooling ring? I understand that the overall score from your round was adjusted based on the schooling arena judge.

Carly: It was so much fun to be judged in the schooling ring because that’s where it all happens. You get to show the judges what makes you even more unique from the other riders as you school your horse over warm-up fences. They announced the scores when the other scores from your round were announced, and a rider could receive a +4, +2, 0, -2, or -4. I would have to say that was one of the most interesting parts of the class.

Laura: Did you enjoy this type of class?

Carly: This was the most fun class that I have ever competed in. It was a true test of my knowledge, and it was such an amazing experience to prove not only to my trainers, but to myself that I can do this on my own. I really enjoyed riding on my own, and it gave me a little taste of what it will be like when I become a professional. It was an honor to be able to compete in such a wonderful class.

Laura: Thank you so much for your time, Carly, and congratulations on winning the inaugural Ronnie Mutch Equitation Classic on the West Coast. Hopefully we’ll see more of these classes in the future.

Ronnie Mutch was a life-long horseman. An early student of Gordon Wright and Al Homewood, Mutch won the AHSA Medal finals in 1950 at the age of 15. At 18 he was the youngest rider at the time to ride for the USET. By 1970, Mutch had established with his wife, Sue Bauer, one of the most successful show jumping stables in the country, Nimrod Farm. Twenty-eight years after Mutch had won the AHSA Medal Finals, Mutch’s son, Bert, won the Medal Finals. Ronnie and Bert Mutch are the only father and son combination to have won the Medal Finals.

The R.W. Mutch Educational Foundation is a tax exempt 501 (c) (3) educational foundation that sponsors both a scholarship and the annual R.W. (Ronnie) Mutch Equitation Classic. This special invitational class is open only to those young riders who qualify by winning one of the major equitation classes during any of the Winter Circuits, including HITS-Thermal, HITS-AZ, HITS-Ocala, CN-WEF & the Gulf Coast Winter Series. It is a highly sought after honor to be invited to participate.

Past Winners of the Equitation Classic:
2008 – Carly Anthony
2007 – Maria Schaub
2006 – Maria Schaub
2005 – Sloanes Coles
2004 – Brianne Goutal
2003 – Whitney Roper
2002 – Kate Landau
2001 – Brian Walker
2000 – Vanessa Haas
1999 – Sarah Willeman

Laura Listens is brought to you by Laura Ware. Winner of the 2007 LAHSA Junior Medal Finals and a recipient of the 2008 WCAR Jumper Rider Grant, Laura rides with First Field Farm and often trains with Archie Cox. She is very successful in the all three disciplines on her own mounts as well as catch riding other horses.

Highlights From HITS Thermal January 2008

HITS Thermal unveiled its new, covered EquiBase™ Arena Systems Ring on Saturday Jan. 26th when Nicoletta Von Heidegger of Chatsworth, California topped 26 competitors during the jumper phase of the Washington Equitation Classic at HITS Desert Circuit I.

On Friday evening, Feb. 1st , the innovative covered ring was the site of the first of four $50,000 Tourneau FEI World Cup Qualifiers, presented by Adequan during the 2008 HITS Desert Circuit. VIP Oasis Club Members will have exclusive access to a special area set up for these four World Cup Qualifiers. VIP Oasis Club Chef Ric Orlando and his team will present the guests with a fantastic array of hors d’oeuvres.

The EquiBase Ring features completely new jumps from Olaf Petersen and unique decorations from course decorator Evie Frisque. “Evie’s wonderful décor is beyond description,” said HITS Thermal’s Office Manager Donna Vale. “The combination of her skills and the new jumps make the ring a very elegant place to show.”

Used extensively throughout Europe for a number of years, EquiBase mats are made from 100 percent recycled PVC that has been proven to be environmentally friendly. The mats have a moisture-retention system on the topside while the underside ensures highly efficient drainage of excess water. The design of the mats helps to increase the stability of the footing layer in a ring by preventing “shear stress” or movement of the footing. This feature enables horse and rider to execute quick turns at high speed, making it ideal for Grand Prix show jumping. In addition, the mats have also been shown to provide shock absorption, which helps to protect ligaments, tendons and joints.

“Footing is the critical component in the long term health and soundness of these magnificent equine athletes,” said Joy Koch, Director of North American Operations for EquiBase Arena Systems International. ‘By making footing a priority, HITS is helping ensure that the horses competing at their venues will be able to perform at top level over the long haul. We applaud Tom Struzzieri, Fred Bauer and the rest of the HITS management team for taking this decisive step for the well-being of our top show-jumping horses.”

The EquiBase system is an integral part of HITS’ comprehensive plan to improve footing at both the Thermal CA and Ocala FL venues this winter. Koch and EquiBase Chief Executive Officer, Wolfgang Bacher, have supplied more than 2000 EquiBase mats and over 10 tons of EquiBase Geotextil Fiber for use in the new HITS Thermal indoor ring. The EquiBase mats at HITS Thermal are the very same design that were installed in Rome at the 75th Concourse Piazza di Sienna for the 2007 Samsung Super League Nations Cup and at the Hong Kong Jockey Club, which will host the equestrian events during the 2008 Olympics in China.

The FEI class in the new EquiBase™ Arena Systems Ring on Friday was one of three Grand Prix classes this week. First on Thursday, January 31st, was the $25,000 Ariat Grand Prix. On Sunday, February 3rd some of the West Coast’s most elite riders rode (through wind and dust) top international course designer Leopoldo Palacios’ route in the Grand Prix presented by EMO. The Ariat and EMO classes will take place in the Grand Prix ring.

Highlights From Seven Weeks Of Culinary Delights By Chef Ric

Chef Ric Orlando and his team have set a new standard for horse show dining and it’s yours for the tasting at Thermal. Now that the all-new HITS Oasis Club is open daily for breakfast and lunch at the HITS Desert Horse Park, members can savor the many fabulous flavors throughout the day.

“We’re from the Napa Valley and are very spoiled when it comes to fine dining,” commented Grand Prix rider Macella O’Neill. “Ric Orlando’s kitchen at the Oasis Club lives up to our highest expectations.” Renowned hunter judge Bucky Reynolds confirmed the acclaim, saying, “This is truly Five-Star dining at a horse show!”

Ric is the chef-owner of New World Home Cooking Co., a favorite dining spot for horse show competitors in Saugerties, New York. His impressive culinary resume spans nearly three decades with experience gathered at groundbreaking restaurants such as the Elm City Diner in New Haven, (the original) Harvest in Cambridge, Massachusetts, the Wild Goose in Boston, Sugar Reef in Manhattan, Yates Street and Justin’s in Albany, New York. Some of his many honors include the Zagat Award of Distinction, Culinary Institute of America Best of the Hudson Bon Vivant Award and American Culinary Federation 1993 Culinarian of the Year. His New World Home Cooking Co. received the 2006 Santé Restaurant Award for Innovative Cuisine.

Chef Ric’s eclectic background includes stints as a punk rocker, a fashion model, a poet, and a music video producer. Now, when his demanding chef schedule allows, he is working on a book with writing partner Jessica Bard, Ric Orlando’s Hudson Valley Kitchen.
“I relish this opportunity to present my unique style of cooking to a new west coast audience,” said Orlando. “We are delighted to bring a menu with South-of-the-Border and Asian influences to the HITS Desert Circuit. We’re adding our own southern California twist using my trademark Global Heritage and sustainable Clean Food.” Some of the delectable choices on the menu: Roasted Garlic Caesar Salad with Grilled Sugar Cane Shrimp, Jerked Pork Loin with Mango-Coconut Salsa, Chicken and Andouille Jambalaya, Curried Chicken and Mango Salad Wrap, Grilled Salmon with Chimmichurri and Arugula Sauce.

Desserts to die for include: Phyllo Cups with Lemon Curd and Fresh Berries, Chocolate-Glazed Macaroons, Chocolate Truffle Cups.

Enjoy breakfast Ric Orlando style with fabulous scones and Danish pastries complementing cooked-to-order omelets or try French toast with real maple syrup and twice-smoked grilled bacon and ham. Savor the shrimp grits!

Throughout the eight-week HITS Desert Circuit Chef Orlando plans to custom develop menu innovations. Ric will be out front meeting folks and inquiring about individual food preferences.

The HITS Desert Circuit VIP Oasis Club is available by membership only with both weekly and circuit price packages. Ask any show secretary for more information or call the horse show office at (760)399-9200.