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HITS president optimistic about new show

by Nancy Hamlett, staff writer

With the $50,000 Rio Vista Grand Prix, the dramatic conclusion of the first week of a new horse show set Sunday afternoon, the company president is optimistic and enthusiastic about the next four weeks.

Tom Struzzieri, owner and president of Horse Shows in the Sun (HITS) Tahoe, said Wednesday that the 500-plus horses entered in this first show have met all expectations, placing HITS Tahoe in the top 20 percent of the nation’s shows for size.

“This is an excellent record for a first-time show. Historically for HITS, first shows have fewer horses than this, and then they have grown in a very short period of time. This is the first of many more successful shows in this area,” Struzzieri said during a media luncheon at the showgrounds north of Minden.

Pleasantly surprised with the reaction of the community, Struzzieri called the show’s success “extraordinary.”

“Everyone has been extremely friendly in the community, from government to businesses. This is a unique relationship for us, and very pleasing. We have been well received, and that makes life lots easier,” he said.

Referring to the horse industry as a close-knit group, Struzzieri indicated that rumors always precede a first horse show. Many stables and trainers will let others test the lay of the land before venturing to a new venue.

“With the positive first show, we expect entries to increase every week as word gets out,” said Struzzieri. “Now people know that we aren’t in the middle of nowhere. There are excellent services in the area and a warm, welcoming community.”

The 10-year lease on the 100-acre showgrounds indicates HITS’ commitment in developing a new West Coast summer circuit.

“The Carson Valley is a perfect choice for the HITS Tahoe Horse Show because of its physical beauty, the availability of well-located, level land, the accessibility to recreational amenities at Lake Tahoe and the existing equine influence,” said John Eickman, director of marketing for HITS.

Struzzieri stated that the show facility is designed to handle 1,600 horses, and he anticipates that this will happen soon, with 60 percent of the participants staying all five weeks of the circuit.

“This is just the first of many more shows in the Carson Valley,” said Struzzieri. “When people learn about the (Carson) Valley and all that it has to offer, we anticipate that HITS Tahoe will become one of our biggest horse show circuits.”