Northern Cali Beach Ride

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Darley Newman
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After touring around downtown Sonoma this morning, we headed out with Rafael Hernandez of Rafael Hernandez of Wine Country Trailrides for a beach ride. In this California Wine Country episode, we are definitely seeing the diversity of Sonoma, traveling from the Redwoods to the coast. Rafael is a great. He had been playing polo all weekend, when we met him back at Larson Family Winery to head towards the beach. On the way, we passed through the seaside town of Bodega Bay, where Alfred Hitchcock's "The Birds" was filmed.

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Two other locals, Sharon and Anita, came along to ride with us for the ride. I was paired up with JT, an older, tall black Appendix (Thoroughbred Quarter Horse cross), who was a perfect fit for me on the beach ride.

We rode through the beautifully dramatic dunes at a good pace on route to the beach. It was a little foggy and the air was a little chilly. Rafael grew up at the beach and knows this area well. He told me about the laid back lifestyle found in some of the nearby beach towns, as well as the good surf spots nearby. I wouldn't be surfing at the beach on this trip, just riding horses there.

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One of the highlights of the ride was seeing a sea otter bobbing up and down as the waves crashed on the shore. I have seen the sea otters who rest on the dock in San Francisco, but never seen a sea otter in the ocean! (we didn't have them on the East Coast where I grew up) He was probably looking for some of the abundant kelp that was floating towards the shore.

Rafael talked about what it was like for him to grow up at the beach in Northern California and his love of his horses and riding in Sonoma. His passion was evident as we cruised the shore.

Down a ways from where we were riding is Maverick, a top surfing spot. Where we rode was quiet and peaceful, just our group on horseback and a few other walkers, enjoying an afternoon at the beach.

Learn more about Equitrekking on PBS including the California Wine Country episode on DVD and learn about exceptional equestrian vacations at EquitrekkingTravel.com.