THERMAL, Calif. -
The Desert International Horse Park in Thermal is gearing up for another four weeks of competitions beginning February 19 and running through March 15. Horses from all over the world compete in different types of jumping. News Channel 3’s Caitlin Thropay was at the park to learn how to ride one of their six-figure horses.
“Safety first,” Emily Kerr with the Desert International Horse Park said as I put a helmet on. It wasn’t a normal day on the job for me that’s for sure.
“Then you want to grab the reins right here in your left hand, put your left foot in the stirrup and then swing your leg over,” Kerr said.
But for this horse named Jack, it was a walk in the park.
Kerr has been riding horses her whole life, but today she showed me the ropes.
“You want to make sure you have your heels down because that helps your center of gravity so if he were to trip you know you have a good center of gravity so that you don’t get tossed off,” she said.
Even though I’m just learning the basics, these horses are extremely talented. They’re also extremely expensive.
We met up with Steve Hankin, the President and CEO of the Desert International Horse Park who tells us more about them.
“People are always surprised that we have $500 million worth of horses on the property at any given time,” Hankin said.
The park’s 2,400 stalls are completely full of horses like Jack ready to compete.
“This facility is probably the biggest facility in the world. Certainly in North America, it is the biggest facility,” he said.
The riders of these horses are competing for big bucks, $4 million in prize money are given out every season. They also receive points towards their World Cup ranking.
Many people in the Coachella Valley don’t know this major sport is in our backyard.
“This will become bigger and bigger over time and I think people in the Coachella Valley will come to know what it’s about,” he said.
To learn more and see dates and times for upcoming competitions visit: https://deserthorsepark.com/