The Wizard Of HITS Exposed

Deloise In America has laid down the gauntlet to HITS and Tom Struzzieri. For so many years riders, owners, trainers, vendors, staff, grooms, fans, and horses have been victimized by the money machine that has debilitated the horse show industry in America. I am interested to see if Struzzieri will acknowledge her open letter and if he does so what form the response will take.

“Or the footing is an issue. (Which it is). This letter is about the decades-long feeling there is a lack of empathy for your customers which continues to resonate through our little horse community. I am now totally confused as to where we stand with you. Where do your clients (exhibitors) stand with you? Where do our horses stand with you? Where does horse welfare stand with you? It would be comforting to hear some honest answers for once.” Deloise in America

Will it be more of the drivel that he said when interviewed about the HITS Coachella Million being lowered from 1.60m to 1.50m? To recap, Struzzieri said it was to benefit the California horse business. “And the Million should continue to be a class where I reward the clients of mine for all they do to make my business thrive,” said Struzzieri. In reality, it was to get more horses in the class so that he can make more money. HITS also allowed riders to compete with 2 horses as opposed to 1 mount in previous years. There were 46 starters this year, up from 30 in 2016. With a $3,500 entry fee, that is a $56,000 increase for HITS. This was not done for the benefit of the professionals in California, or for the sport of Show Jumping. Popular spectator events like the Global Champions Tour limit the feature classes to 25 participants. This provides a better experience for spectators and more importantly for television which is essential for Equestrian to grow and survive on the world stage.

“What’s good for HITS is good for the sport” Tom Struzzieri

In 1995 HITS Indio hosted a $250,000 Grand Prix during the circuit finale. The class was not advertised locally and Struzzeiri was asked why he did not promote an event that had many riders flying in from the east coast to compete. His response was that more spectators meant he would need to provide more parking, concessions, and restrooms; he did not want more people to watch. I heard this comment myself first hand.

There is ‘Pologate’, which embarrassed the sport at the 2016 Hits Thermal Million. The footing at all HITS shows is notorious for poor quality and the thousands of horses it has injured. I know several people who worked for several years for HITS; Gate people, jump crew, announcers, office staff. They all speak of how poorly Struzzieri treated them for all their hard work and time. How he only provides 1 vehicle for multiple officials at his shows, how he tells the course designer to build the Grand Prix small so that he will have more entries for the Million dollar class the next week.

I used to regularly take 25+ horses to the entire circuit in Indio. Not once has Struzzieri asked me how the show was or if there was anything I needed. Everyone who has ever stepped foot in the show office has a horror story to tell about how they were treated. In 2016 I watched 5 riders hit their heads in falls at Thermal. Not one of them was checked for a concussion and 2 of those riders were still experiencing concussion symptoms over a month later. I questioned a minimum wage medic after she checked a rider who had fallen and hit her head if she had done a concussion test on the exhibitor. The look of befuddlement she gave me was comical.

According to a source at HITS, entries were down 45% at Ocala and Coachella this year. Since the USEF appears unwilling to monitor or regulate the quality of the horse shows it sanctions, maybe the horse community will speak with their pocket books. The time has come to end the wizard’s reign of pilfering the horse community.

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