The beginning of January marked the start of the 8-week Desert Circuit, hosted by Desert International Horse Park out in Thermal, California. The circuit is a huge horse show and it attracts riders from all over the country to come to compete. There are classes for every level of rider, and with 13 show rings, there is always something interesting to watch, especially in the Grand Prix Stadium where the big money($25,000+) classes are held. Competing in a show is a great learning experience for riders, but watching professionals is also valuable. Seeing the technique of the riders in the harder classes, such as the Ronnie Mutch Equitation Championship, is an amazing experience and allows riders to see how they can improve their own riding ability to one day reach that level.
While many people stay at the show for the whole 8 weeks (9 if the rest week in the middle is included,) CdM sophomore Nikolina Sentovich was only there for Week 7. While Sentovich usually rides in the hunters (slow, pretty, and all about looking good over jumps), this time around she stepped into the jumper arena. Jumpers are a big change in pace compared to hunters since the objective is to get around the course as fast as possible while hitting the least amount of poles down from the jumps, but Sentovich did great. She describes her experience at the show by saying, “Thermal 2021 was such a great experience even with the Covid restrictions. The horse show is one of the biggest in California and brings riders and horses from all across North America for 8 weeks of showing in the desert. I attended week 7 and competed on an 18-year-old mare, Aurelia, in the 0.70m and 0.80m jumpers. Despite falling off twice, I learned a lot. We ended up finishing with a 13th of out 40 in the 0.80m jumpers and a 4th place finish in the $250 0.75m Jumper Classic. Thermal was so much fun and I can’t wait to go back again next year!” The photo attached was provided by Sentovich and is of her competing with Aurelia.