December 2020 - Desert Dressage
Written by photos and text by Kim F Miller
Wednesday, 02 December 2020 03:40
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Venue and inaugural competition spark excitement.

photos and text by Kim F Miller

California dressage enthusiasts have big praise for the inaugural Adequan Desert Dressage presented by Buffini & Company. Held over two weeks, starting Nov. 12 at the Desert International Horse Park in Thermal, the CDI and national show attracted all of the West Coast’s top players.

Steffen Peters and Suppenkasper danced their way to domination in the Grand Prix divisions. The four-time Olympian summarized first week sentiments after their first win on Thursday with a 77.413% in the FEI Grand Prix CDI3* sponsored by Elizabeth Keadle.


Anna Buffini & FRH Davinia La Douce

Steffen & Supperkasper

Ben Ebeling and Illuster Van De Kampert won the FEI GP Freestyle CDI U25 and dad & Olympian Jan Ebeling, right, won the FEI Intermediate II CDI3* on Bellena.

“We arrived two days ago and I drove around with my mouth open,” Steffen explained. “The last time we were here was about seven or eight years ago and I just couldn’t believe how much was improved and the resources that were put into this place. It is absolutely beautiful. That (Grand Prix) arena, truly, I am not exaggerating, has Olympic quality. When you come in with the big gate and the spectators where they are, that has Olympic quality. I cannot wait and hope that maybe one day something really big will happen here.”


(Editor’s Note: Per COVID safety protocols, spectators were not allowed, yet the Grand Prix ring drew other exhibitors when Steffen and his contemporaries went to work.)

Steffen and “Mopsie” returned Sunday to win the FEI GP Special, and he and his wife Shannon Peters rode several horses and coached clients through the two weeks.

Dawn White O’Connor & Bailarino

Jan Ebeling & Bellena

Jennifer Hoffman & Rondoro Noblesse

Hot on their heels in the Week 1 Grand Prix divisions were Anna Buffini and FRH Davinia La Douce. Anna has only had the mare for one month and was thrilled to be back in the big ring on such a spectacular horse. They earned a 70.319%.

The San Diego-based young professional was equally excited about the venue, the show organizers, etc. “This is probably one of my favorite venues I’ve ever ridden in.” She complimented everything from the responsiveness of the show staff to an expansive vibe in which “the horses don’t feel closed in and stressed.”

“This could absolutely help the West Coast dressage world,” she continued. “Thank you to (organizer) Thomas Baur and everybody who helped put this on. It’s really necessary that we have these and for everybody to support them.”

Charlotte Jorst and Jan Ebeling were among others to have stellar CDIs, but it wasn’t just the big names who enjoyed the show. Week 1 was Sandra McNamara’s first dressage show. The amateur and her 17-year-old Connemara, Pioneer, have always evented, but they decided to give dressage a go after moving to the Palm Springs area’s La Quinta earlier in the year.  With the help of their coach Liz Morton, they won the USEF Training Level Test 1 Pony class and had a terrific time.

“All of the people here were really nice,” Sandra reports. “Everybody was rooting and clapping for everybody else. The venue is so pretty and everything was just outstanding.”

Guenter Seidel & Equirelle

Shannon Peters & Disco Inferno

Claire Robinson & Glamour Boy

A Flourishing Venue

The Desert International Horse Park is very familiar to hunter/jumper riders over its many years as home to the many-week HITS Thermal circuit. In August of 2019, a group of exhibitor families purchased the venue and the hunter/jumper shows, under the Apex Equisports banner. The improvements they’ve made have been widely praised by people in that discipline and the dressage show debut seems another great indicator of the future.

Earlier in the fall, the DIHP hosted reining competition, on one weekend concurrent with the National Sunshine Preview hunter/jumper show, which was in itself a new mix of high quality experience and lower costs.

Terri Sue Wensinger & Quintessential Hit

Ben Ebeling & Illuster Van De Kampert

Christine Kohler-Ekstrand & Dark Berry

Next up is the three-week Desert Holiday circuit, including 5* rated jumping on Week 2, then Desert Circuit Jan 19 through March 21, with February’s Coachella Valley Classic woven into February.

In our August, 2019 issue, Apex Equisport leader Steve Hankin said there were three components to the venue and the shows’ success: the facility, the competition and the hospitality. The group certainly seems off to a great start on all counts.

Visit for more details and complete show results.