By Erin Gross
Photos by Kristina Yamamoto
Instead of waiting for Halloween or a themed pub-crawl to don that sexy cowgirl or cowboy outfit, saddle up now. From romantic rides through the Temecula vineyards to polo lessons at the San Diego Polo Club, San Diego offers many opportunities to enjoy the outdoors from the back of a horse that don't require the skills of an accomplished equestrian. Check out these local spots to test the old proverb, "The world is best viewed through the ears of a horse."
Vineyard Trail Rides
Experience the spirit of the Wild West on a ride through the Ramona countryside led by cowgirl Sabrina Fortyune, whose fearless attitude and horse whisperer-like intuition puts riders at ease and ensures that everyone's four-legged transportation remains on its best behavior. Towards the end of the ride, enjoy a peaceful picnic beside a gentle pond, along with a glass of wine provided by the Vineyard Trail Rides guides. $100 per person; $160 per couple.
Happy Trails Horse Rentals
Happy Trails offers romantic horseback rides, by sunlight or moonlight, that could be pulled straight from an episode of Millionaire Matchmaker. Explore the beaches of South Bay with the wind in your hair and a 1,000-pound animal between your legs. "Our horses are super gentle," says manager Jessica Averilla, adding that her customers often ride right up to the Mexican border. "They get a kick out of that." Prices range from $75 to $135.
San Diego Polo School
San Diego Polo School opens its doors to riders of all experience levels each May. And according to creative director Lindsey Chronert, even newcomers can expect to be able to hit the polo ball from atop a trusty steed by the end of their first lesson. "A lot of people are intimated at first, but end up loving it," Chronert says. First lesson is free; additional lessons range from $50 to $175 each.
Wine Country Trails by Horseback
Escape the hustle and bustle of city life on a horseback ride through beautiful Temecula. Wine Country Trails leads guests along a stunning scenic trail that passes popular vineyards and ends at Wilson Creek Winery, where riders are treated to complimentary wine tasting. Packages range from $165 to $185 per couple.