Were you born in or near a small town in the south during the 40s, 50s and 60s? Did you learn to ride a horse, mule, cow, goat or donkey before you rode your first bicycle, minus the training wheels? Do you still remember the pain you experienced after a ride, if you hadn’t taken one in awhile? Well, if these things are part of your reflective conscious, you might be a Dixie Cowboy or Cowgirl.
The pace of the world was much slower in those days; with the absence of personal computers, smart phones and video games, so kids had another avenue to discover; the outdoors and their animals. Even if you didn’t live on a farm, but lived in the south, you probably had friends and family who had farms, and when you visited you could become a Dixie Cowboy or Cowgirl, although some of you probably opted out.
Even though this article may speak mostly about the Dixie Cowboy, the word “boy” and “girl” were once gender neutral in language, referring to humans, so we will simplify this writing with the word “cowboy” for both sexes. Also, even though this article is about the ones that took on the challenge, and in some cases, literally grabbed the bull by the horns, anyone else that reads it is welcome to wonder at the sanity of these rough riders, of which this writer was one.
Things that a Dixie Cowboy remembers:
1. The smell of the animals when they were in a coral or barn, along with the hay and sweet feed. Many might have found this smell repulsive, but not the Dixie Cowboy; it was part of the ritual of life.
2. Riding your first horse, or in some cases goats, calves, mules and donkeys. The fear, but exhilaration when your parent or sibling put you on the animals back, and the subsequent reaction of the animal.
3. Riding a horse without a saddle, and sometimes with a gentle on, without a bridle.
4. Waking up in the morning with riding on your mind, as well as going to sleep with riding on your mind, and of course the dreams.
5. Watching Roy Rogers, John Wayne, The Lone Ranger, Laramie, Bonanza, My Friend Flicka and all the other shows that showcased the cowboy and his horse.
6. Teaching your horse tricks, or in some cases your horse teaching you tricks.
7. How the simple words rodeo or horse show meant as much to you as football, basketball and baseball to sports fans.
8. How hard it was to catch some of your spirited horses, and how some came to you as if saying, “I want to be ridden.” It was a companionship for them also.
9. The birth of a colt – It was almost like your own birthday, after all, your mare had just given you a new present.
10. Having an old sway-back mare that could outrun any horse around. The laughter always stopped at the finish line.
11. The uses of these wonderful animal on a ranch or farm.
12. The death of your pal! It was as if a family member had died.
13. The greatest gift of all to a Dixie Cowboy was the fact that the person, whether male or female had the chance to meet and spend precious quality time with a noble – proud creature called a horse.
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Until we meet again on these pages, “We will let the world turn onto our next destination.”