A Trip to the Indio Desert Circuit Horse Show

Background

It seems that I once promised Jordan that if she ever entered a nationally-ranked equestrian competition that I would fly-in to watch her compete.  Well, that day arrived during week four - February 19 through 23 - of the 2003 Indio Desert Circuit.  This was purely a horse trip - done very much on the cheap.  As things turned out, I am very, VERY glad that I was able to attend (noting, oddly, that if I hadn't divorced from Debbie that during this time I was to be touring Italy as a celebration of her 50th birthday on 23 February)...
 

Wednesday, February 19, 2003 - En Route to Indio, California
via Salt Lake City, Utah & Ontario, California

After dropping Rafe at the kennel around 7:30am (as always, he was NOT happy to be taken for boarding!), I began my trek down to Atlanta's Hartsfield International Airport for a planned 11:20am departure on Delta Airlines (allowing PLENTY of time given the heightened security alert status).  As things turned-out, I had ample time - yakking at the gate on the phone with my brother, my father, and my daughter.  I mentioned that this trip was done on the cheap - I had to change planes in Salt Lake City for the leg to Ontario International Airport; there I rented an economy-class car for the 90mile drive through Palm Springs to Indio (stopping at the Tommy's Burgerlocation in Chino for a world-famous chili cheeseburger to eat along the way).  Arriving almost exactly on schedule at 6pm PST, I checked-into the "palatial" ;-) Motel 6 - after getting settled-in gave my girlfriend a quick call, then headed-over to the even more palatial ;-) Super 8 motel where Jordan, her trainer, and another competitor had been staying since Monday.  She and I headed down the road a ways to the Red Robin Restaurant for a 90min get together and light dinner; but by 8:30pm both of us were having trouble keeping our eyes open, so we decided to call it a night.  I was back to my room by 9pm and fell asleep shortly thereafter.

 

Thursday, February 20, 2003 - The Horse Show!

As is typically the case, with my body still on East coast time I awoke shortly before 4am.  I spent some time surfing the internet, watching the morning news, and getting ready before heading-over to get Jordan at 8am.  On this day, she had two classes - both Baby Green Hunter - scheduled for late morning.  Jordan's stepfather - Craig - arrived not longer after we did with his new 14-week-old Bassett Hound puppy named "Henry".  Regarding the competition... while making no major mistakes, it apparently wasn't enough of an effort to cause the judges to award her with a ribbon.  But, this was her first competition on Harvey (her half-thoroughbred / half-dutch warmblood horse) since getting him last year, so simply finishing successfully was today's goal.  We spent the rest of the day watching her trainer and friend compete in jumper classes, as well as watching the myriad of other competitions.  That evening, Jordan and I were in the mood for Chinese food, stopping at an acceptable but not particularly noteworthy establishment in the heart of town.

The Grand Prix area at the Indio Desert Circuit Jordan, her Stepfather, and Bassett puppy watching the competition The Grand Prix area at the Indio Desert Circuit
Jordan prepares for a day's competition Jordan warming-up Harvey for her Baby Green Hunter class Jordan warming-up Harvey for her Baby Green Hunter class Jordan warming-up Harvey for her Baby Green Hunter class Jordan and her trainer discuss the route for the Baby Green Hunter class
Jordan warming-up Harvey for her Baby Green Hunter class Jordan warming-up Harvey for her Baby Green Hunter class Jordan warming-up Harvey for her Baby Green Hunter class
Jordan smiles broadly, having successfully completed her first competition class on Harvey Jordan competing in the Baby Green Hunter class at the Indio Desert Circuit Jordan and her trainer ready for the Baby Green Hunter class
Jordan winding-down Harvey at the end of the first day Jordan, her Trainer (Lorraine), and friend (Mimi) winding-down their horses at the end of the first day's competition Jordan winding-down Harvey at the end of the first day
 

Friday, February 21, 2003 - The Horse Show!

With my body slowly acclimating to Pacific time, I awoke about 5am this morning - followed by my regular pattern of checking email, light net surfing, cleaning-up, catching the morning news... this morning I also uploaded three photos of Jordan from the day before onto his Cieva Picture Frame.  I grabbed Jordan about 30min earlier, opting to drive through McDonald's for a light breakfast before a full day's competition.  Today, she was signed-up for five, VERY large Modified Child / Adult Hunter classes.  As with yesterday, she competed admirably, but since Hunter is based more on the horse than the rider (and since Harvey is still a youngster, having just celebrated his 6th birthday), she didn't expect to take any ribbons and her expectations came to pass.  Jordan's Mom arrived just before her last class (having gotten stuck in traffic near San Bernadino); "da kid" and I then bugged-out midday so I could have an In-And-Out burger (my favorite whenever I visit the left coast), then returned for another afternoon watching her trainer and friend compete in more jumper classes.  That evening, we had a Mexican meal at another acceptable but not stellar local establishment (I've come to understand that the really good restaurants are further west, in Palm Desert, Palm Springs, and other more "posh" communities).  While I had a little more steam this evening, Jordan had finished a longish, tiring day and so she elected to go back to her motel by about 9pm... I stayed up until about 11pm downloading / photoshopping digital pics and watching some television.  

Jordan's friend Mimi lunging her horse (Ryan) at the start of the second day at Indio Jordan and her trainer warming-up for the Modified Child / Adult Hunter class Harvey - ready for competition! Jordan and her trainer warming-up for the Modified Child / Adult Hunter class Jordan and her trainer warming-up for the Modified Child / Adult Hunter class
Jordan ready to compete on Day #2 at Indio Jordan, "at home" on the back of Harvey Jordan and her trainer warming-up for the Modified Child / Adult Hunter class Jordan and her trainer warming-up for the Modified Child / Adult Hunter class
 

Saturday, February 22, 2003 - The Horse Show!

In all my trips to California, I've never had the opportunity to feel an earthquake... that is, until 4:19am this morning.  There was a 5.4 rolling tremor centered less than 100miles away, and I was jolted awake by it - realizing within just a couple of seconds what was happening.  I never felt in any real danger, but was surprised (tho I can't figure out why this should be surprising) with how much noise the building made as it flexed under the shaking.  Over in about 15-20sec, there was another milder shock about a minute later, after which I couldn't feel any more of the aftershocks.  I fitfully slept for about another 45min, then got up and went through my usual routine... the exception being that this morning Jordan was riding-in early with Lorraine & Mimi for a 7:30am start.  My "incredibly difficult" job was to drive through McDonald's again for her breakfast!

Today, she had two classes of Junior Maiden Equitation - the first Flat, the second over Fence.  Her trainer (Lorraine) believed if Jordan had a chance at any medals, this would be the class where she stood the best chance (Equitation judges the rider where Hunter judges the horse).  And what a marvelous knack for understatement - Jordan nailed her Flat class, taking the first-place blue ribbon - while Dad was videotaping and welling-up with tears of pride and joy.  This was now her first medal on Harvey, at a nationally-ranked competition, and I was able to see her get it!  Obviously, with adrenaline pumping strongly, she didn't have either her mind or body on the over Fence portion - so no more ribbons were to be had there.  But, as Jordan expected no ribbons of any kind, this day was indeed very special for all of us...

A hot-air balloon over the fields adjacent to the Indio Desert Circuit Jordan warming-up Harvey for the Junior Maiden Equitation class Jordan & Harvey, making-way from the stalls to the Equitation competition Jordan warming-up Harvey for the Junior Maiden Equitation class Jordan warming-up Harvey for the Junior Maiden Equitation class
Jordan warming-up Harvey for the Junior Maiden Equitation class Jordan warming-up Harvey for the Junior Maiden Equitation class Jordan warming-up Harvey for the Junior Maiden Equitation class Jordan warming-up Harvey for the Junior Maiden Equitation class Jordan warming-up Harvey for the Junior Maiden Equitation class
Jordan warming-up Harvey for the Junior Maiden Equitation class Jordan warming-up Harvey for the Junior Maiden Equitation class Jordan's first ribbon with Harvey - and a first place finish too! Jordan "congratulates" Harvey on their first ribbon together! Jordan and Misty phone her best friend to deliver the good news!

At Natalie's suggestion, I bugged-out for about four hours this afternoon - not only to give Jordan a little space and time to be with people that speak fluent horse, but also so I could see a little of the area beyond the walls of the horse park.  I drove the 20-or-so miles west to Palm Springs, where I took a quick trip up the side of Mt. San Jacinto on the Palm Springs Aerial Tramway.  It was incredible - although those suffering from a fear of heights might not be so magnanimous in their kudos.  While it was 80+ degrees in Indio, it was 45 on top of the mountain, with about 1"-2" of residual snow.  Thankfully, I brought my jacket for its one-and-only use this trip!  After snapping a few pics, I rode back down, then took a leisurely drive down Highway 111 so I could see the towns themselves.  Now I understand all the hubub - they kind of reminded me of Beverly Hills or Brentwood transplanted into the desert.  While I never got bitten so severely by the bug that I thought it'd be a great place to live, it is someplace I'd enjoy returning to for a long weekend's vacation.

Ready to board the Palm Springs Aerial Tramway Taking the Tram up to the top of Mt. San Jacinto Taking the Tram up to the top of Mt. San Jacinto Scenes from the top of Mt. San Jacinto Scenes from the top of Mt. San Jacinto
Scenes from the top of Mt. San Jacinto Scenes from the top of Mt. San Jacinto The Tram returns to the top of Mt. San Jacinto The Tram returns to the top of Mt. San Jacinto

I returned to the Desert Circuit at about 5:30pm, snagged Jordan, and brought her back to my motel - she wanted to go-over all of the digital pics shot to date and request some of them be printed for framing.  From there, we coordinated with her Mom & StepDad and headed-out just before 7 to Captain Cook's Steak, Seafood & Cajun restaurant in Palm Desert.  Unlike the prior days, the food here was excellent, bordering on stellar (I enjoyed a very credible Jambalaya)!  At about 9:30pm we headed "home", first dropping-off Jordan so she could pack (they, like I, were checking-out first thing Sunday morning), then my calling it a night shortly thereafter.

 

Sunday, February 23, 2003 - The Horse Show, then En Route home
via Ontario, California & Dallas, Texas

No new earthquakes, just a very early start - I was at the park by 6:45am, with everyone milling-about busily getting ready for early morning competitions (Jordan, as well as I, drew a lucky card in that regard - me so I could see her compete before having to drive back to Ontario, her so that she didn't have to contend with the afternoon heat).  Today were two more Junior Maiden Equitation classes, both over Fence.  She seemed to do well but not great - unfortunately, scoring wasn't complete before it was time for me to hit the road.  Quickly buying a souvenir for my girlfriend on the way out, I arrived at the rental car counter about 11am, was on the way to the airport by 11:30am, and was onboard and underway 5min early (1:15pm being our expected departure time).  After a nearly two-hour layover in Dallas, I completed the final leg, arriving in Atlanta just before 11pm and home by 12:30am.  All-in-all, this was one of the fastest vacations I've ever taken - in recollection, it seems as though I was only gone for a couple of days (Jordan had the same response - her full week there only seemed as though it was three-or-four days to her).  And now I wait for six or seven months before seeing my daughter again... :-(

Jordan, with mixed feelings, up early for her last day's competition Jordan warming-up Harvey for the last day's Junior Maiden Equitation (over Fence) class Jordan warming-up Harvey for the last day's Junior Maiden Equitation (over Fence) class Jordan warming-up Harvey for the last day's Junior Maiden Equitation (over Fence) class Jordan warming-up Harvey for the last day's Junior Maiden Equitation (over Fence) class
Little did we know (when this photo was taken) that Jordan had placed 2nd in this class! Jordan & I walk Harvey before returning him to his stall Jordan & I walk Harvey before returning him to his stall A goodbye family portrait with the award winners!

p.s. I found out on Monday that Jordan had taken Second Place in the first class that morning, and was named Reserve Champion(second place) for the day's events.  Excellent, EXCELLENT news - congratulations, Goose!!!!!!!!!!

   
 

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