Riverside County is home to many horse lovers, with plenty of horse shows and trails to choose from. Ride down the Santa Ana river bottom, or give your horse a break and go shopping or visit the many museums or historical points of interest. There are a number of colleges, including the California School for the Deaf and branches of the University of California.
As horse lover Rebecca says, “I chose to live in Riverside because, even though it’s a large city, it offers a wide variety of family-oriented activities while maintaining an uncongested, small town/rural, and animal friendly atmosphere.” She goes on to say, “While it has its share of crime, I believe Riverside has a lower crime rate and it’s cleaner than many cities, too.” Rebecca was born, raised, and educated right here in the county.
Formed in 1893 and taking its name from the city of Riverside, Riverside County is now the fourth largest county in the state of California. It stretches from the Colorado River to a mere 14 miles from the Pacific Ocean. The county is made up of 7,200 square miles of fertile river valleys, low deserts, mountains, foothills and rolling plains. It borders the San Bernardino Mountains and San Bernardino County to the north, as well as Los Angeles, Imperial, Orange and San Diego Counties.
There are many active horse communities in Riverside County. Horses can be found all over the county, particularly in Norco, Mira Loma, Murrieta, and Lake Elsinore, as well as a number of unincorporated areas.
Like elsewhere in California, the housing prices have dropped dramatically in Riverside County, so now is a great time to buy, according to Ingrid LeMasters of Duffield Realty (951/323-7287). “You can get a nice home, with space for a couple of horses for as little as $400,000 to $500,000,” she says, although there are larger, more developed properties available if you’re prepared to spend in the millions. In October, the median home price in the county fell to $350,000, a 15% drop from the previous year.
Clubs and Activities
You will find plenty of horse shows and other activities in this active community. Organized trail rides; schooling and breed horse shows; and even chili cook-offs are arranged by area clubs. Visit Ingrid’s website at www.ingridhomes.com for a list of activities in the county.
The Temecula Valley Paint Horse Club (www.temeculavalleypainthorseclub.com) shows feature double judging and double points in classes such as halter, working cow, trail, hunter under saddle, and more.
There is also the Plantation Walking Horse Association (www.pwhaofcalifornia.com), which offers a high point program for a variety of disciplines.
There are five 4-H clubs in the county, each fully enrolled for a total of 700 members. 4-H’ers participate in a variety of indoor and outdoor projects, including horses. 4-H horse shows offer classes in showmanship, hunters, trail, and more.
There are a large number of other clubs in the county, such as the California State Horseman’s Association, Cowgirl Way Equestrian Drill Team, Greater Lake Mathews Rural Trail Association, California Dressage Society, and many more too numerous to list.
There are many boarding and training barns to choose from, specializing in any discipline you desire. There are some impressive show facilities, hosting horse shows from 4-H level to prestigious Grand Prix jumping and dressage.
Galway Downs, located outside of Temecula, hosts a number of horse shows and eventing trials. The facility houses over 400 horses who train and compete in racing, eventing, dressage, and jumping, and is the west coast training center for the U.S. Equestrian Team. The owners hope to one day turn the facility into an equestrian resort, with a restaurant, meeting facilities, and retail shops. However, approval can’t be granted until 2009, due to a five-year prohibition on major land changes.
Many hunter/jumpers are very familiar with Indio and the prestigious Desert Circuit horse shows, produced by HITS (Horse shows In The Sun). Even if you aren’t showing the shows are well worth the trip to watch, particularly the Grand Prix events, or to shop in the variety of equestrian shops. This circuit is known as the largest hunter/jumper event west of the Mississippi, attracting over 2000 horses annually.
Ingalls Park, located in Norco, is a large equestrian complex which hosts two major rodeo events each year, as well as the Norco Valley Fair, Norco Horseweek, and a number of horse shows, classes and open riding. The park consists of the Moreno Arena, a banquet and convention facility, Nellie Weaver Hall, and a variety of other amenities.
Trails and Camping
Lake Cahuilla Horse Camp in La Quinta and McCall Memorial Horse Park in Mountain Center/Idyllwild are managed by the Riverside County Regional Park & Open Space District. They offer corrals, flush toilets and showers for you to camp and ride with your horse. Lake Cahuilla sits on 710 acres, while McCall comprises 88 acres.
Rancho Jurupa Equestrian Campground is also managed by the Riverside County Regional Park & Open Space District. This is a great place to access the Santa Ana River Trails, then camp with corrals, restroom facilities, campfire rings and BBQ’s.
In addition to these campgrounds, trail riders will find places to ride throughout the county. Horse trails are offered at a number of parks in Norco, and the Santa Ana river bed is available as well.
Beautiful Riverside County is just one more example of what a great place California is to live with horses.