Ever wished you could let your horse be your designated driver? In Norco, CA, no one would even look at you funny if you did. Jim Woods shares what it’s like to live there.
[photo courtesy of Jim Woods]
Norco, CA, a small rural town in the suburbs of Los Angeles, is known as Horsetown, U.S.A. for a reason. Many streets have bridle paths instead of sidewalks, and businesses have hitching posts for horses if, say, you need to stop in town for an errand while you’re not exploring Norco’s 95 miles of trails and 400 acres of parklands. And of course, the bar and tack shop are within riding distance. It sounds pretty freaking awesome.
Jim Woods is living the good life out West, and he was kind enough to share what it’s like to live in Horsetown, U.S.A.
What brought you to Norco?
I came to Norco primarily because the homeowners association in my beachfront condo wouldn’t let me keep horses on the property. Seriously though, it was always a dream of mine to look out the window and see my horses running around. So, when home prices began to come down significantly after the recession a few years ago, I was able to buy a ranch in the most equine-friendly city in California–Horsetown U.S.A.
What’s your favorite part about it?
For me, the best part of living in Norco is country vibe, and all of the equine-friendly accommodations here. For example, anything I need for my horses (feed, tack, etc.) is about a 5 minute drive (or about a 30 minute trail ride) away. I also love looking out my front door and frequently seeing my neighbors out riding their horses.
How many horses do you have, and what are their breeds, ages and names?
I have two horses; both are American quarter horse geldings. My main boy is named Trooper, and he’s 12 years old. I actually bought him from the former homeowner who also was involved in Western reenactments and equine stunt work for films. When I first came to look at the property there were three horses in the arena, but it was only Trooper who came right up to greet me. I said to myself that I would love to have this horse, so I made a deal with the owner to keep Trooper here with me.
Jim and Trooper [photo courtesy of Jim Woods]
My other boy is named Metro, and he is primarily my wife Veronica’s horse. He is a super smart, very gentle and very well-trained former show horse. He’s also 12 years old. Metro is the kind of bombproof horse that anyone can ride, as he is super intelligent and knows how to take care of his rider.
Walk me through a typical day with your horses.
I begin about 6 a.m. with a feeding of just a little alfalfa hay, and then a cleaning of the pens and the arena. Then I make sure that the free-feeder nets are full with high-quality grass hay. Both of my horses free feed, as I think this is best for their health. I also let them roam in the arena all day together, as I think this is also best for their social nature and their happiness.
Because I have the good fortune to be able to work from home as a writer and stock market analyst, as soon as I finish my day I can go out and spend time with the horses. Usually I will groom them, do a little round pen work, and then take them out for a trail ride. It’s the best therapy anyone could ask for.
About 5 p.m. I give them a little more alfalfa, and also supplements such as senior feed and biotin. I also make sure they have plenty of water. And, once again, I clean the pens and the arena.
What’s the most popular discipline out in Norco? What kind of riding do you do with your horses?
The most popular discipline here is trail riding, but there’s also a lot of Western horsemanship, including rodeo events such as team roping, steer wrestling and barrel racing. There are also some great obstacle courses here to ride. I primarily do trail riding, but I also like to ride “at liberty,” which is bareback and bitless. My friend and expert trainer, Jennie Lynn of J. Lynn Horsemanship, and I have been working with both horses to get them used to being ridden bareback and bitless, and also to respond to the subtle commands of the rider.
Jim and Trooper on the obstacle course [photo courtesy of Jim Woods]
What sorts of equine activities can you do in Norco that you can’t do anywhere else?
Here in Norco it’s all about the horse. I can, and often do, ride to the local saloon to have a couple of adult beverages. Then I let my horse be my designated driver. I can also ride to the local tack store if I need to have a saddle fit, or if I want to check out a specific piece of gear. The proximity of equine-friendly businesses, along with over 95 miles of horse trails, makes Norco the perfect spot for just about any horse lover.
Has there ever been a time that having horse-savvy neighbors really helped you out?
Most of my neighbors own horses, although there are a few who don’t ride but who just like living in a rural setting that’s also close to major metropolitan areas. I have helped several neighbors load horses. I’ve also helped feed neighbors’ horses while they were away. My neighbors have done the same for me. Having equine-friendly friends living next to you is definitely a big plus about Norco.
And the question I think any horse person would wonder upon hearing that there are horse trails instead of sidewalks…who picks up the poop???
LOL. That’s a question a lot of people ask when they first hear about my town. The answer is—we do. Here in Norco, many of us have self-reliant, rugged-individualist blood flowing through our veins. If something needs to be cleaned or scooped up, we don’t rely on government. We simply go out and clean it ourselves. The can-do spirit of the Old West is alive and well in Norco, and that’s one reason why I love it here!
Thanks for sharing a glimpse into what it’s like to live in Horsetown, U.S.A., Jim!