8 Reasons Norco is the Best Horse Town I’ve Ever Been To
Welcome to Norco, California – the best horse town I’ve ever been to, hence why it’s called Horse Town USA.
Norco is about one-hour and twenty minutes from my current home in San Diego, California – where horses are present but more of an afterthought when compared to the horse-themed wonderland that is Norco.
I traveled to Norco to see the Alycia Burton Free Riding Tour, and even she – a woman who has traveled all over the US, as well as throughout Australia and New Zealand – said she’d never been to a town so wonderfully set up for horses before.
When I first pulled off the freeway and into the heart of town, I couldn’t even believe my eyes. Every other store is for horse tack or feed, there’s a massive equine veterinary hospital, and all of the so-called non-horsey places, like bars and restaurants, are horse-themed too, with names like the Saddle Sore Saloon and Rodeo Burger.
8 Reasons Norco Is The Best Horse Town Ever
1. Almost every property is set up for horses
The entire city is dedicated to the keeping of large animals. Classified as a “Primary Animal Keeping Area” or PAKA, most home lots are on a half-acre or more. It’s a lot easier to search for the perfect property to keep your horses in Norco than it is elsewhere.
2. Welcome to horse trail heaven
There are over 81 miles of horse trails to explore in this lovely gem of a city. Not to mention, even the city and neighborhood streets are optimized for take your horse to work day. There are horse trails on at least one side of every street.
It’s easy enough to get in some good exercise riding through your neighborhood, or taking a trip to the local saloon, but you’ve got more options than that. Like the Santa Ana River Trail, which covers an impressive 100 miles from the San Bernardino Mountains clear to the Pacific Ocean in Huntington Beach. It crosses 3 county lines and traverses through 17 cities.
Plus, with easy access to horse trails right at your backdoor, there’s no need to fuss with loading the ponies in a trailer and traveling to a rideable destination.
3. Cruise the city on horseback thanks to rider-friendly cross walks
Only in Norco will you find crosswalk buttons designed for pedestrians and horseback riders. There is a set of people-height buttons and another set of rider-height buttons so you can safely cross the street and onward to your destination – be it Starbucks, the local bar, or a mountain trail with scenic views.
4. Tie your horse up while you go to the bar, or to church
When you get to your destination, you’ll be happy to find many places have corrals and posts set up to tie your horse outside while you cruise inside for a pizza, beer, or maybe some new tack for your pony patiently waiting outside. Even the Church of Christ is outfitted with a place to tie up your horse.
Speaking of beer, I did check with a cop – it’s illegal to ride your horse while intoxicated. Although, even he admitted it would be harder to find a judge dead set on persecuting you for riding while intoxicated in comparison to driving a vehicle while intoxicated.
That doesn’t mean people don’t do it. I talked to a lovely waitress at the local Saddle Sore Saloon and she said she sees drunk people get on their horses and head home all too often.
One time, a frequent patron got a little more buzzed than usual and her horse must have known it because as soon as she got on, he started crow hopping all over, causing her to fall off. Thanks to her buzzin’, she didn’t seem to feel a thing, she just hopped back on and continued on her way.
5. Who needs a car? Ride your horse through the drive-through
Around here, it is pretty commonplace to see a horse in front or behind you at your local drive through, be it fast food or Starbucks. Who even needs a car around here?
6. Entire neighborhoods are optimized for equestrians
Take it from someone who has one, an arena is a good deal of work to maintain. Not to mention, it’s pricey to install one with good footing on a level surface.
Leave it to Norco to take care of the hard work for you. Many neighborhoods are outfitted with communal arenas so you can simply ride from your backyard down the street to get in a good ride.
7. There are so many equestrian centers
For a rather small town, there are a lot of equestrian centers! For starters, there’s the George Engall’s Equestrian and Event Center and The Ranch at SilverLakes. All in all, there’s no shortage of horse-friendly places to attend an event, compete in a show, or ride your horse.
8. You’re still close to the fancier things in life
Google MapsI’m a country girl at heart but I still love Nordstrom and dinning at nice restaurants, yet another reason Norco is appealing. When you’re ready to dust off your boots and get glammed up, you’ve got options.
You’re only an hour from Los Angeles and 36 minutes from Irvine where you’ll find all the white table cloth restaurants and fancy clothing boutiques you could ever want.
Prefer to shop on a budget? There’s a Nordstrom Rack just 30 minutes away. That’s more than you could say for a lot of other little middle-of-nowhere horse towns.
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But Why is it Called Norco?
My husband’s first question when I told him where I was headed – “Are you going to a drug capital or something?”
No, silly, Norco doesn’t get its name from the potent opioid narcotic. Instead, it’s called Norco because it’s North of Corona, California.
Norco Demographics + Other Facts
I geek out on demographics, so I just couldn’t consider this blog complete without including some insights on the people who call Norco home.
- Norco is home to 26,809 people, which makes it the 1,609 largest city in the US. For reference, the US Census Bureau reports there are 19,354 “incorporated places” in the US. So, while this is a very horse-friendly town, it’s not all that small.
- The median age is 40.2 years old
- 55% of the population is married, which is right on par with the national average.
- 40% of people living in Norco are families with kids under 18.
- 74% speak English and 22% speak Spanish
- 68% of residents were born in California, 18% were born out of the state, and 1% were born outside of the US. 13% were foreign born. After speaking with locals, I learned that many people have lived here their entire lives.
Weather in Norco
Don’t worry about snow or extreme weather, yet another reason Norco is one of the best horse towns out there! Your horses will enjoy the mild temperatures, as will you.
In the summertime it gets pretty warm. The hot season is considered the end of June through the end of September, when the average daily high is 88 degrees F.
The cool season spans from the end of November to mid-March, with the average low around 46 degrees F.
How Much is Horse Property in Norco Horse Town?
Property in Norco isn’t cheap – this is California we are talking about here, but when compared to horse property in San Diego or Los Angeles, which it sits in between, it’s more affordable.
There’s no way I could get a house in San Diego with horse stalls and room for an arena for $500,000. Then again, in the part of SD I live in, you can’t even get a 3-bedroom condo for $500k.
This cute 3-bedroom, 2-bath is listed at $534,900. It could use some updates on the inside but it’s move-in ready for you and your horses.
For $599k you can pick up this beauty with a big rustic barn and plenty of space for your pony palls.
Have a little more dough to spend? This 1.6-million-dollar home sits on 4.7 acres.
There’s a custom six-stall barn with a wash room, tack room, hay loft and feed room. Plus, four corals to turn your horses out all day long.
And of course, the sidewalks right outside the home are lined with dirt so you can giddy up and go wherever you please on horseback.
Do you live in Norco, or have you ever lived in Norco? I’d love to hear from you!
Share your experiences in the comments below.