Horse show promoter has plans for Carson Valley |

Horse show promoter has plans for Carson Valley

by Christy Chalmers

The Carson Valley appears to have scored big with a group called HITS.

John Eickman, spokesman for Horse Shows In The Sun – also known as HITS – announced Thursday that the group is finalizing plans for an annual equestrian event that will bring 1,000 horses and 2,000 to 3,000 riders, handlers and spectators to the Carson Valley over five weeks in the summer of 2000.

Eickman said the Rhinebeck, N.Y.-based company produces similar shows in California, Arizona, Florida, New York and Virginia. The shows, held throughout the year, vary from five to seven weeks, with contestants completing obstacle courses on horseback. With the addition of a Carson Valley show, HITS will be sponsoring 34 weeks of competition a year.

Currently, the group’s largest show is held for six weeks each year in Indio, Calif., and attracts 2,300 horses and 5,000 visitors. Eickman said the company thinks the Carson Valley show may rival the Indio event within five years. A few final details remain, such as ensuring enough motel rooms, but local officials have been very cooperative and he’s optimistic the event will succeed.

“We expect this to grow and even double in size within three years,” said Eickman. “Everyone we have talked to and told about this show has said, ‘Count me in.’ “

Carson Valley’s proximity to Lake Tahoe and relative closeness to Washington, Oregon and California, where many of the expected competitors live, made it ideal for another HITS event, Eickman said. The company wanted a venue in the Lake Tahoe area when someone recommended the Carson Valley, and after reviewing a few locations in the valley, the group settled on a 100-acre parcel owned by Bently Agrowdynamics north of Minden, near Stockyard Road and Highway 395.

“We were looking for something that had access to Lake Tahoe,” said Eickman. “We really are billing this as the perfect horse show and the perfect vacation.”

Bently officials confirmed that HITS has been negotiating a lease for the land. Eickman said the lease is complete and will last 10 years.

Eickman said HITS will design custom competition rings, but no permanent facilities, such as barns and stables, are planned. Instead, the company will install portable bleachers, tents and other needed equipment during show weeks.

“By the time we leave, you won’t even know we’ve been here,” said Eickman.

The news was welcomed by Douglas County leaders, who have been trying to burnish the county’s image as friendly to tourists and businesses alike.

“The type of thing you’re trying to bring to Douglas County complements the image we’re trying to fit,” said Commissioner Jacques Etchegoyhen.

“They (horse show patrons) will be spending money, but they don’t need services,” said Commissioner Kelly Kite. “That’s the best of both worlds.”

Kite said HITS contacted county leaders six to seven months ago, and planning for the horse show proceeded quietly.

The company is well-known in Indio, population 45,000, which hosts a show from January through March. Sherry Johnson, executive director of the Indio Chamber of Commerce, said the Carson Valley can expect an influx of income and worldwide recognition in the horse jumping world.

“They’ve been a tremendous economic boom to the city of Indio,” she said. “It’s like a small city coming here for seven weeks. They fill our restaurants, they fill our hotels, they fill our stores and our gas stations. Even the nurseries and flower shops feel the impact because they order lots of flowers to decorate their tack rooms.

“They have fulfilled everything they promised to do. Everybody loves the horse show. It’s a wonderful addition to our community.”