For Immediate Release:

THERMAL, Calif. – April 20, 2021 – In a dual effort to improve the Desert International Horse Park (DIHP) and support high-performance sport on the West Coast of the U.S., DIHP President and CEO Steve Hankin announced that work has begun on a multi-million dollar investment in state-of-the-art footing and an all-new grass competition field at the facility.

“We are excited about the progress we have made in our first twenty-one months of ownership of the horse park,” said Hankin, who commenced major improvements to the Desert International Horse Park when the four families of Apex Equisport purchased the property in 2018. “We also know there is a great deal of work to achieve our goal of creating and maintaining a nationally-recognized facility offering world-class competition. The work we are now beginning is a logical next step towards achieving our goals, and importantly, creating a facility that riders at the top of the sport want to visit and compete.

“Our aspiration has always been to have a grand prix arena on par with other top facilities in North America,” he continued “The desert presents unique challenges to achieving this goal, but after considerable work, we are confident we have the right team in Four G Surfaces, and the right solution in hand. We think the new ring, in combination with a new grass jumping field to be used for special hunter and jumper events will deliver something that has never existed before on the West Coast.”

Top: New footing for the Grand Prix Arena schooling area. Middle: New footing installed in Hunter 2. Bottom: An additional new schooling ring.

Led by Kyle Gould of Four G Surfaces, the overhaul will elevate the surfaces at the Desert International Horse Park to some of the best in the world. “The management team at the horse park is dedicated to building a world-class facility, and they are continuing those efforts by making a major investment in their surfaces,” said Gould, who also led the footing renovations at Flintfields Horse Park for the Traverse City Horse Shows. “My overall goal is to contribute to the safety and soundness of horses while allowing the highest level of competition to thrive.”

“What Four G Surfaces accomplished in Traverse City set that facility apart, and we are very pleased to be able to work with them at the Desert International Horse Park in the anticipation of a very exciting 2021 and 2022 season, which will include two FEI 5* events in December 2021,” added Hankin.

The Desert International Horse Park and Four G Surfaces have partnered with Premier Equestrian for a complete restoration of the Grand Prix Arena and schooling area footing. The comprehensive solution starts from the ground up with Premier’s Ebb & Flow watering system, which eliminates the need for sprinkler and manual watering and ensures moisture consistency, as well as Otto Sport base mats that offer incomparable drainage, stability, shock absorption, and longevity for all-weather surfaces.

The highest quality sand, specifically sourced for all-weather arenas, is being utilized alongside Premier Equestrian’s textile and fiber footing products to complete an advanced approach to horse sport surfaces.

“The Desert International Horse Park is already an important venue for the U.S.,” said Premier Equestrian CEO Mark Neihart. “The commitment to improving the grounds with major projects like this one speaks volumes for what they plan to do in making DIHP a premier international destination. We are proud to be associated with such a significant project in the sport of show jumping, and we appreciate their support and trust by using our full suite of products.”

In addition to new surfaces, a large team came together to develop a destination grass jumping stadium at the Desert International Horse Park. With 2018 FEI World Equestrian Games course designer Alan Wade at the helm, the Ireland-based Clareen Equestrian Ltd. developed the design for a grass jumping stadium suitable for all types of show jumping competition.

Top: Alan Wade’s design for the all-new grass competition field. Middle: A stone wall for the Table Top element being built. Bottom: The Devil’s Dyke being created.

“To achieve something that was much more than a grass field, the design contains permanent water and liverpool features, together with palm trees and suitable low-level landscaping,” said Wade, who hails from Tipperary, Ireland, and regularly builds FEI tracks during the Desert Circuit. “Additionally, a devils dyke style feature is located at one end of the stadium as well as a permanent dry ditch. At the entrance and exit to the stadium there will be a bank feature with a ramped run up/run down, two table-top jumps, and a suitable grass-face bank.

“These features are all designed to enhance the overall look of the grass stadium, and be multi-purpose in order to accommodate jumper, hunter, and equitation events,” continued Wade. “The addition of a grass competition stadium as well as ongoing upgrades, will even further establish the property as a horse-friendly destination and allow for the provision of a greater variety of classes for everyone.”

In addition to the improvements being made to the Grand Prix Arena and the new grass field, additional work at the horse park this summer includes expansion of the bridle path, replacement of the footing in Hunter rings 2, 3, and 4 and Hunter schooling, as well as a redesign of the equitation ring.

The investments being made by Apex Equisport are the next steps to fulfilling the goal of establishing the Desert International Horse Park as an unmatched destination for horse sport. “We set out to create something that was innovative and unique. The work that is being done this summer is another big step in that direction,” Hankin concluded.

The projects will be completed in time for the 2021/2022 season, details of which will be announced in the next few weeks.

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About the Desert International Horse Park
With nearly 1.5 million square feet of competition and riding space, the Desert International Horse Park is one of the largest equestrian facilities in North America. Offering multiple weeks of world-class equestrian competition from October through March, the facility is a destination location for thousands of equestrians, their horses, family and friends for several months annually. Competitors from all over the world travel to Thermal, CA to not only compete but to enjoy everything the desert has to offer.