The Central Coast’s natural beauty inspires visitors and locals to explore their surroundings in many ways. Hiking, cycling, walking and running are all great ways to get out and see what the Central Coast has to offer. Horeseback riding is another way to hit the trail. Outback Trail Rides offers rides for anyone interested in seeing the area from the back of a horse.
Mick Harper, owner and guide at Outback Trail Rides has worked with horses for most of his life. His family breeds and grazes Brahman cattle and Australian Stockhorses in the Northern Rivers region of New South Wales, Australia. Mick was raised on this property and learned horsemanship from his father at a young age. He says, “I have been in the saddle all my life. Some of my fondest memories include days riding, mustering cattle (rounding-up), and sleeping out under the stars with my Dad.”
Mick’s experience in the saddle continued as he got older and competed in the Australian sport of camp drafting, as well as rough riding rodeo events such as bull riding. Mick came to California in 1999 for a job in Parkfield at the V6 Ranch, where he say, he “enjoyed a great experience working for the Varian family” while “starting and training young horses.” It was during this time that he met and married his wife, a native Paso Roblan. Mick and his wife moved to Australia a spent a few years ranching before returning to settle in Paso Robles and start their family and their business.
Mick says that the Central Coast is the perfect place for his business. Mick says of their location, “Since first visiting many years ago, I surmised that the beautiful coastline around Cambria would be an great location for a tourist horseback destination. We were excited to obtain such an ideal property to host our trail rides, and to collaborate with the Fiscalini family in 2009.”
He continues, “Since we first began Outback Trail Rides we’ve had unbelievable support from the township of Cambria. Looking to give guests additional ride options, we looked to expand to our hometown of Paso Robles. With so many requests for wine rides, we have been excited to add Cass and Calcareous Vineyards in 2013. Paso Robles is truly becoming a tourist destination, and with it’s strong ranching background, guests get a great taste of this with a horseback experience… along with some fantastic wines!”
Riders of all experience levels will feel comfortable with an Outback Trail Ride experience. Mick describes what a rider will experience at the beginning of a typical ride, “Upon arrival our staff will assist guests to fill out some preliminary paperwork, help guests get fitted out with helmets and boots if desired, and ascertain each guests riding experience and ability. We endeavor to match each guests with a horse that is suitable for their riding level.” Mick says, “The pace of the ride is determined by the groups riding experience, and most guests can enjoy some trotting and cantering on their ride. We try to optimize the riding experience for our more seasoned guests, by giving them some additional freedom on the rides.”
Outback Trail Rides takes advantage of the varied terrain of the Central Coast with its three trail locations. Mick describes the Cambria trail, “The terrain on our coastal trail rides is fairly mountainous, and the longer trails enjoy spectacular views of the coast. These rides are suitable for beginner to advanced riders, and we can take little guys
and gals down to the age of 6 [years].” Mick says of the Cass Vineyard trail, “[It] has a gentle ride through the rolling hills of the vineyard, and is suitable for all levels, even very beginner riders.” He says that the ride at Calcareous Vineyards is “the most rugged of any of our rides” and is “more suitable for more experienced riders, and those up for a more adventurous ride.”
Mick adds that both winery rides include complimentary wine tasting and that they will soon be adding a picnic lunch to the ride at Calcareous and horse-drawn wagon tours at Cass. Outback Trail Rides offers an adventure and a great perspective on the beautiful terrain of the Central Coast—as Mick says “Outback style!”
For additional information on Outback Trail Rides visit www.outbacktrailrides.com or call (805) 286-8772. The Cambria ride season runs from May – September, and rides take place 7 days a week. The Paso Robles vineyard rides are offered year round on featured days. Contact Outback Trail Rides for their current ride schedule.
— Kate Joyce