I’ve told you all how obsessed I was with horses as a girl–I still have a few of my Breyer model horses and other statues. Some girls played with dolls; I played with toy horses. The song “Girls & Horses,” which I love, pretty much sums up my love of horses. You can listen to it (legally) on Templeton’s website. If there’s a horse crazy girl or woman in your family, go buy it. Heck, buy the whole album (also titled Girls & Horses). It’s full of great horsey songs.
All this reminiscing about my past with horses got me a bit misty-eyed and I went looking for an old photo album. Despite the disaster that is my office, I found it. This is my first horse, Peaches, bought when I was in college.
She was just a weanling when I got her, and I eventually trained her myself. None of those things are really great ideas, by the way: buying a horse while still in school, buying a weanling as your first horse, breaking and training your first horse yourself. But I loved that little mare, and I’d like to think she loved me. We made it work. This picture was somewhere around 1985 or 6. We used to do pretty well in our local open shows.
Which brings me to the real point of this post. I’ve been asked why it’s taken me fifteen years to finally start writing about cowboys, given their popularity in genre fiction. Well…let me tell you a story. See, I was in college, remember? So I had to work to pay for my horse habit. For a couple of semesters I worked for a horse trainer / cowboy we’ll just call Dave. Dave was a good guy. He treated me well and taught me a lot. But he wasn’t a fancy pants show trainer like some you see today. He was a cowboy. And one thing cowboys then were never without was a tin of Skoal in their back pockets. Dipping tobacco. Snuff.
Snuff said. 🙂
I used to accompany Dave to horse shows to help with feeding, cleaning stalls, exercising and such. We travelled in his rattletrap battleship of a rusted pickup truck with a bench front seat. Outside, Dave would just spit his tobacco juice on the ground. But in the truck…well…we all know what happens when you spit out a window at 60 mph, don’t we? So he had a spit cup. A BIG spit cup. And that old battleship didn’t have cup holders so it sat on the dash as we jounced down country roads to the horse shows.
I lived in fear of that spit cup. I just knew one day it was going to land in my lap.
Really, chewing tobacco is not a very attractive habit in many ways. Spitting is gross. Flecks of tobacco between the teeth is gross. And it tastes gross when you…
Yeah, I just might have kissed that cowboy once or twice.
And that, friends, is why it’s taken me fifteen years to write a western romance novel and a cowboy hero.