elcome to Horsetown USA! An Entire Town, Called Norco, Centered Around Equestrian Lifestyle
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Welcome to Horsetown USA! An Entire Town, Called Norco, Centered Around Equestrian Lifestyle

When you visit Norco, Calif., for the first time, you quickly notice that there is an emphasis on horses. Make that a huge emphasis on horses. It feels like you stepped back in time into an episode of the 1960s Western TV series Bonanza.

It's a 14-square-mile community located one hour east of Los Angeles where the amenities of modern suburbia co-exist with a decidedly Western-themed - and very equine-oriented - lifestyle. In fact, the human population in Norco (25,328 as of 2022) almost equals the number of horses (20,000).

No wonder it's renowned as Horsetown USA, a name that has actually been trademarked!

Norco's Long-Ago Beginnings

Meet Rex Clark

Rex B. Clark (1876-1955) was a businessman who was also something of a visionary, a trailblazer, an idealist, and an entrepreneur rolled into one dynamo.

According to the City of Norco website, "He believed in the goodness of mankind and that independence fosters creative energies and economic prosperity. He promoted his development to the 'average Joe' looking for a chance to make a living from the sweat of his brow. Clark named his new town 'Norco' a contraction of the first two parts of his company's name, the North Corona Land Company."

What Was Norco Like Back in the Day?

Founded in 1923 and incorporated in 1964, Clark's "vale of dreams come true," as the Los Angeles Times called it on  April 26, 1923, was a quaint, leafy, self-contained village with everything necessary to sustain the existence of its citizens. In short, a bucolic oasis.

People planted gardens, grew crops, and raised chickens. There was a gas station, a drugstore, a general store, a library, a plumber, a lumber yard, and a warehouse.

"Not surprisingly, horses were a significant part of early Norco's everyday life, used for transportation, recreation and farming."

Although the community has inevitably changed with the times, the hardy self-sufficiency and individualism that once pervaded it is still alive and evident in Norco's continued high regard for - and reliance upon - horses.

Safeguarding the Norco Lifestyle

Money-Minded Developers, Beware!

Norco is a city where the kind of rugged individualism often associated with the American frontier still prevails.

People who live there staunchly protect Norco's identity from developers looking to encroach upon its horse-loving, rustic atmosphere by erecting a glut of McMansions or bland strip malls.

Anyone favoring that kind of gentrification in Norco stands a good chance of getting a thoroughly miffed earful.

Don't Tread on Us

When a battle loomed between those who live in Norco and developers, some of the city's leaders and prominent citizens made their feelings clear in a 1990 article in the Los Angeles Times.

"We're not giving up one more damn inch of Norco," declared Vic Jensen, president of the influential Norco Horsemen's Association. The Norco Mounted Posse and the Saddlesore Riders, two other local horse advocacy groups, also joined the fray.

Judy Malich, another Norco Horsemen's Association member, explained that, "Unfortunately, greed is the biggest threat to our lifestyle."

Former Mayor Kathy Azevedo struck a similarly defiant tone. "People can call us cowboys and hicks, and we don't care. We don't want to lose [what defines us]. We don't want to become Orange County."

Norco's Love Affair With Horses, Described

The Horse Motif is Everywhere You Look 

Norco boasts more horse trails - almost 100 miles of them, according to the Norco Area Chamber of Commerce - than anyplace in America.

Places to tether your steed abound throughout town. There's a ride-through McDonald's (that's ride as in horse, not vehicle).

You can down a cold, foamy brew at the Saddle Sore Saloon, buy cowboy hats and boots, saddles, and other equine merch at local shops, and visit the library, where you'll find shelves practically sagging under the weight of all the reading materials about horses.

Feed and hay are easy to come by.  No worries when you need to cross the street on horseback - crosswalk buttons have been installed at two levels, one for those on foot, another for folks on horseback!

As far as getting around Norco goes, you can comfortably travel from home to virtually any destination in town on your horse.

The Norco Landmark You Must Visit

The George Ingalls Equestrian Event Center

This magnificent 80-acre showplace is home to occasions like equestrian events, weddings, corporate meetings, trade shows, and concerts. It has been referred to as "one of the premier equestrian venues in the nation" by Business View.

It is named for George A. Ingalls, who lived in Norco and made the ultimate sacrifice in Vietnam on April 16, 1967. Posthumously, the Congressional Medal of Honor awarded him for his immense bravery.

In keeping with Norco's patriotism and reverence for our heroes in uniform, the Center features a stately, solemn Veterans Memorial Plaza and Gold Star Families Memorial Monument.

A Slice of Small-Town Americana

What Really Makes Norco Unique 

On the surface, the prevalence of horses in daily life in Norco is what distinguishes this community. But it's also a place where homespun Norman Rockwell-type principles, like being a good neighbor, fighting for the right to self-determination for this city and standing up for America are celebrated every single day.

"The Norco community is very passionate about the lifestyle that its founders valued," said former City Manager Andy Okoro.  Yes, indeed!

There's a wonderfully fierce frontier ethos integrated into Norco's culture. May it gallop on forever!