Growing up, there was nothing I loved better than dogs and horses. But as a young child, I had been diagnosed with asthma, and apparently I was allergic to everything. Especially dogs, cats, grass, etc. For years I took a concoction of drugs and shots that helped with the symptoms. I had already had to give up one dog because of the illness, but my mother read that Chihuahuas were supposed to help those with asthma, so we got Little Putt--an uncommonly sweet, brindle female.
I began riding horses at the age of five. My mom had grown up with horses and had a trunk full of ribbons and trophies from horse shows all over the regions. When some of my friends were learning to play tennis, golf, or soccer, I was learning to ride.
Despite my asthma, my cousin and I practically lived at the barn during the summer. After our riding lessons, we helped groom horses, muck out stalls, and rake the inside of the barn. We loved the smells (yes, even the manure), the sounds (whinnies, whuffles, clip-clops), and the sights (nothing beats seeing a horse moving in perfect formation with its rider), and we formed lasting friendships from our time there.
When school was going on, my mom and I woke early on Saturday mornings and headed out for Rotherwood Stables, stopping at the 7-11 on the way to buy a king-sized Hershey bar and bottled Coke to share. The breakfast of champions. We did this for many years.
In 1980, the movie Urban Cowboy came out. John Travolta and Debra Winger were names on everyone's lips, and line-dancing was booming at the honky tonks. Mom bought the soundtrack and we played the tape in the car over and over again—we wore that thing out! It was a compilation album of songs from Jimmy Buffet, Mickey Gilley, The Eagles, Bonnie Raitt, Bob Seger and the Silver Bullet Band, and many others. But my two favorites on the album were Boz Skaggs’s “Love Look What You’ve Done to Me” and Charlie Daniels Band’s “The Devil Went Down to Georgia” (whoo-hoo! Listen to that fiddle playing!) This was when I came to love country music.
I was too young to see the movie then, and to this day, I have never seen it (maybe this will be the year), but every time I hear Boz Skaggs or the Eagles, I think about those sunshine-filled rides to the barn and the smell of sawdust and grain. Ah, how I love the smell of fly spray in the mornings!