The eleventh annual HITS Indio Desert Circuit kicked off Week 1 of top competition featuring horses and riders from throughout the United States, Canada and Mexico. During the six weeks more than 1300 blue ribbons will be awarded and over $1,000,000 of prize money will be earned.
In the open hunter divisions earlier this week, Peter Pletcher was undefeated in the First Year Green Hunters aboard Bohemia owned by Becky Gochman of Texas. Cindy Brooks rode Laura Davies (CA) Cartouche to the championship in the Green Conformation Hunters. In the Regular Working Hunters, the championship was between two horses and their finishes in the under saddle determined the championship. Kirsten Coe and In Style, owned by Equine Trading Company (CA) rode off with the top honors followed by Peter Pletcher and Onstar, owned by Gail Serrell (TX).
Junior and amateur riders began showing on Friday and the highlight of the day was the popular $1000 Pony Hunter Classic. Over 35 ponies competed at night under the lights in the main hunter ring, and in the end newcomer Gabby Applegate led the victory gallop on medium pony Cloth O Gold. Applegates first major victory came last fall in the Zone 10 West Coast Pony Finals, and this win early in the year was a positive one for the eleven year-old rider.
Entries were strong in the many amateur divisions, and in the Amateur Owner Hunter for riders 36-50 Mary Ann Weisberg-Perry rode her Petrus to the championship. Kendle Handtmann rode her Remember Me to the tri-color in the Large Junior Hunters 15 and Under and then captured the $1000 Junior Hunter Classic.
West Coast riders have become a dominant force on the national equitation scene, due in part to the many levels of classes and medals that help develop top riders. HITS is proud to offer the many equitation classes and medals, and this week Katie Gardner, a top rider, captured the USA Equestrian Junior Medal, the Washington International Equitation Class, and the PHA West Jr/Am Medal. This is the first time Ive won the Washington and Indio and its a great way to start the circuit. Gardner has her eye on the Indoor Fall shows, and she just missed qualifying for the Washington by a handful of points in 2001. Her eight year old gelding Amadeus does double duty in both the equitation and the Junior Hunters, where the pair earned a reserve championship this week. Andrew Ramsay won the USET with strong performances in both phases.
HITS continues to make improvements in the Indio facility, including a new show ring and additional schooling areas. Developing a show grounds that meets the needs of the exhibitors and horses is one of our highest priorities, says HITS President Tom Struzzieri. The Indio Desert Circuit is also closely aligned with the local community and makes donations to numerous local charities from spectator ticket sales for the Sunday grand prix jumping events. Some of the local charities include the Boys & Girls Club of Coachella Valley, Indio Chamber of Commerce, Indio Sunrise Rotary, and the Cystic Fibrosis Foundation.
Special Events are also scheduled throughout the six-week circuit. The schedule is as follows:
Kids Day, presented
by Fox Kids Club and KDFX Sunday, February 10