On Car Smells and Horseback Riding


The interior of my car. True story.

If you read my previous post, “On Painted Toenails and Horseback Riding,” you know that over the past several months I have started to ride more and let certain, shall we say “non-essential,” things go. Because who really cares? I’m riding!

The interior and exterior appearance of my once pristine car is the next in a long list of those non-essential things that I have decided I no longer want to bother with. The outside of my car is typical of what you would expect of any vehicle that makes regular trips to a barn. It’s dusty on the outside and occasionally there is mud. I can’t remember the last time that I gave it a full-fledged bath.  My family doesn’t worry much with the exterior, especially my husband whose truck more often than not resembles my car.

It’s the interior that has my family deeply troubled.  It’s not about the thick layer of dust that coats every surface or even the bits of grass, hay, horse hair, dirt, or even rocks that have made their way inside and onto the floor. I’ll not even mention the spills. It’s the smell.

To begin with there is my tack that, if I’m anywhere near the farm, I often carry with me. That includes the scent of my saddle pad and girth that are often wet with horse sweat from their part in my latest training exploit. Unless they have been recently washed, which isn’t as often as it probably needs to be, they often carry the dirt, grime, sweat, and yes, the scent, of several wears under saddle. The leather of my saddle and bridle carry a leathery scent of their own mixed with the sweat of both me and my beloved horse.

Riding helmet and gloves? Both sweaty. Grooming box? Smells wonderfully of horse. Boots? Dirt, sometimes horse manure, and of course, sweat. Then there is the other cool smells like fly spray and horse cookies. Yes!

All of these scents combined in my car, especially after a day of baking in the sun, make for a rich aroma that to me is pure heaven. They are my happy place.  If I could figure out a way to bottle this stuff and carry it with me on a stressful day I would. As it is, I sometimes just sit in my car for a few minutes at the end of a long day and enjoy the collision smells. It’s difficult to understand how someone else might not find these smells anything less than appealing.

My horse friends never complain but put my family in the car and suddenly I am in need of an air freshener.  They finally raised enough complaints about it that I found myself in the automobile isle of a local discount store staring at air fresheners and disdainfully smelling each one to find one that was the least offensive to me.  Once identified, purchased, and hung from my rear view mirror my family was placated for a few days.  Suddenly, intermingled with my all my favorite smells was a foreign, manmade scent that was an assault on my olfactory senses.

This went on for about a week. Gradually, the scents that I so loved began to overtake the hateful smell of air freshener.  Thankfully, my family has decided that there is no winning this one. While my daughter still refuses to allow her friends to ride with her in my car, both my husband and daughter will do so only if forced and they will keep their complaints to a minimum. Instead, if you see us out in a group or with company let’s just go ahead and assume we’re riding around in my husband’s truck.

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