Your New Favorite Wine Country Show: The Temecula Valley National Horse Show is the Ultimate Showcation
If you’re looking for a new and creative horse show on the West Coast to go to next year, then stop right now: we have the horse show for you, and we’re a little obsessed (hint: it’s in wine country, naturally). The newly-founded Nilforushan Equisport Events (NEE) brought a new hunter/jumper competition to Southern California this year in the form of the three-week long Temecula Valley National Horse Show. The inaugural series took place at Galway Downs this past spring, wrapping up in early June, and will surely be back with a few more tricks up its sleeve next year after receiving rave reviews from riders, trainers, grooms and pretty much everyone who set foot on the grounds. Galway Downs has undergone some serious facelifts in the past few years and gives off that perfect showcation vibe, which is ideal given that the show sits just a few short miles from Temecula’s stunning and delicious wineries (as well as killer restaurants, spas, and hotels).
With the mission of attracting more equestrians to horse shows in the Golden State, the husband and
wife management team of Ali and Francie Nilforushan spared no expense when creating their debut
show, offering a revolutionary horse show experience to competitors ranging from short stirrup riders to
grand prix champions. As seasoned equestrians and exhibitors themselves, Ali and Francie were uniquely qualified to pull together a horse show for riders, by riders. With the wellbeing of the horse at the heart and the comfort and happiness of participants a cornerstone, the Nilforushans have certainly added another crown jewel to the California horse show circuit. Serving as the focal point of daily activities was the Audi Grand Prix Arena, a new ring created specifically for the Temecula Valley National Horse Show thanks to the generosity of Evergate Stables. Perfectly positioned in the middle of the VIP tent, exhibitors tent and bleacher seating, the ring hosted both upper-level jumper classes as well as the Hunter Derby, Hunter/Jumper Team Challenge and Equitation Challenge on top of new top-of-the-line footing. While the Temecula Valley National Horse Show attracted international-caliber athletes, the management team also kept young aspiring riders and weekend warriors in mind, implementing a number of creative measures to cut costs for riders of all levels.
FREE Class Entries for Horses Under the Age of 7 and OTTBs
You heard correctly! NEE invited all horses, regardless of skill level, that are under the age of 7 or off-
the-track tattooed Thoroughbreds to compete at its horse show sans class fees. Whether you rode in the
pony classes or the upper-level jumpers, you didn’t have to pay for your classes on an eligible horse!
“Thoroughbreds used to be on every podium at horse shows, and today there are so many
Thoroughbreds, many of which are coming off of the racetrack, that can still have a second career. I
wanted this horse show to help those people who have Thoroughbreds or young horses to get in the ring
and train and have fun,” said Ali. “There are so many people that can’t afford a European Warmblood,
but if they can afford an off-the-track-Thoroughbred and are willing to put in the practice, then I want to
provide them with a place to get better and show in a real ring.”
Three Levels of Stabling
Sometimes stabling at a horse show can be expensive. You don’t want to trailer your horse, but you also
can’t stay for the whole week, so you feel like you are not getting your money’s worth. Luckily, the
Temecula Valley National Horse Show create a solution: three levels of stalls. For $400 a horse would be
stabled in a permanent stall; for $300 in a Chinook stall and for $200 a wooden stall. This way, you have
more say of your expenses and your horse’s accommodations for his horse show stay.
Photo and Video Packages
We all love photos and videos, right? For each week of the series, photos and videos could be purchased
at a low package price instead of paying $60 each for a single image or ride clip. NEE partnered with
Captured Moment Photography to offer a $100 weekly photo package, which included ALL photos from
the five days of competition in low-resolution (perfect for social media) as well as one high-resolution
photo (perfect for prints of all sizes). Additionally, Ride On Video offered a similar deal of $100 for videos of every trip in the ring for a horse.
In addition to cost-saving measures, Nilforushan Equisport Events hosted a few creative events at its series to appeal to non-equestrians. So bring your non-horsey friends and family; they can join in on the fun too. Wednesday evening Welcome Parties kicked off each week of competition in the picturesque Carriage House at Galway Downs, with spectators, trainers, riders and the community invited to partake in the revelry. With string lights galore and an assortment of cuisine and entertainment, the three parties
served as a unique way to mingle someplace other than ringside. Adding to the festivities were the
themes: “Bright Lights, Vintage Nights,” “Abracadabra, Alakazoo” and “Circus! Circus!” Each Wednesday
night event featured theme-specific entertainment including singers, dancers, magicians, and acrobats.
“Our goal is to revive the California horse show scene and build this series into one that competitors and
fans look forward to all year,” said Ali. “We aim for our horse shows to be second to none, and more than
that, we would love to draw an audience for the entertainment and other social events. You don’t have to
ride horses to come here and have a memorable experience.”
Friday nights following the last class of the afternoon in the Audi Grand Prix Arena were designated as
Casino Nights, with the funds raised during the evening benefiting a local charity. Roulette, Blackjack,
Craps and Poker stations were located in the exhibitor and spectator tent adjacent to the arena, and
participants played late into the night. In addition to winnings being donated to Thrive Animal Rescue,
players battled against their peers for a chance at a free entry to the 2019 event. Lastly, Saturday night
Grand Prix classes always attracted a packed house, with the bleachers, VIP tent and exhibitors tent filled
to the brim with excited fans.
Charity and Stewardship
NEE partnered with KindredBio, Thrive Animal Rescue and Rescue Express Bus to host an animal
adoption event onsite during the horse show. The second weekend of the series featured a litter of local rescue dogs and cats brought to the horse show for lucky exhibitors to adopt into loving homes. All of the
adoptable four-legged friends found new homes in only one day.
Helping underprivileged children is close to the hearts of the Nilforushans, so selecting Uryadi’s Village as a key beneficiary for their debut event was a no-brainer. Uryadi’s Village does vital work for the vulnerable children of Ethiopia by providing a safe living environment, food, water, care, and love. During the $40,000 Snapbac Grand Prix that took place week one of the Temecula Valley National Horse Show, funds were raised via pledges donated every time a horse-and-rider combination jumped clear over the Uryadi’s Village jump. Thousands of dollars were raised by generous spectators in only a few hours.
Already looking ahead towards the 2019 tour, Nilforushan Equisport Events has mentioned a few more
additions to the already unique competition that will have you chomping at the bit to sign up for the 2019 Temecula Valley National Horse Show:
– FEI & USHJA involvement
Though the exact stipulations are yet to be determined, the NEE management team has expressed
interest in working with the Fédération Equestre Internationale (FEI) as well as the United States
Hunter/Jumper Association for the 2019 series. This would mean more upper-level jumper classes for
elite riders, as well as potentially a World Champion Hunter Rider week.
– Even More Entertainment
These guys like to go all out – no messing around here. In addition to weekly parties and casino nights, the Nilforushans hope to step up their game even more next year with high-profile concerts and events that run alongside the horse show. With the goal of making the Temecula Valley National Horse Show series more than simply an equestrian competition, shows and events will be added to the schedule to attract local community members and keep both equestrians and non-equestrians enjoying the show.
“My dream is to have a big-name band out on the grass field with 40,000 people attending. Entertainment will be a key factor next year,” commented Nilforushan. “When you break bread together
and when you have entertainment, you can build camaraderie and relationships.”
With a banner inaugural year, it is a safe bet that Temecula Valley National Horse Show will return
to Galway Downs in 2019 with even more to offer, especially to our community of amateur riders. If saving money, attending parties, hanging in wine country, and supporting local charities sound like nice ways to enhance your horse show experience, then keep an eye out for Nilforushan Equisport Events’ unique competition next year. We know we will.
Bonus points: the Equestrian Confidential Magazine will be available for your reading pleasure at all Nilforushan events. Pop a bottle of SoCal wine, snuggle up with your adopted dog, and get a little reading in while watching the Grand Prix with the Temecula Valley hills and vineyards surrounding you – doesn’t sound half bad, right?
For more information on Nilforushan Equisport Events, please visit www.jump-nee.com.