If Heartaches Were Horses

Album: Troubadour (2008)

Songfacts®:

  • It's not easy being a cowboy, and in this song Strait sings from the perspective of a man whose lady can no longer tolerate his lifestyle, and one morning when he heads out to work roping cattle, she packs up her things and leaves. As he rides, he things about how things could be different, imagining a world where she still loves him and is back home when he returns.
  • This song was written by the Nashville songwriters Dean Dillon, Wil Nance and Buddy Brock. Nance was the new guy: he idolized Dillon and was very excited to write with him. Before the session, he told his wife Holly that he needed a song idea, so she went on the internet and found some clichés, including one that read, "If wishes were horses, beggars would ride."

    Nance didn't like that one, but it got him thinking: "If heartaches were horses I'd ride away." He told Brock that line, and Brock added, "And hard times were cattle." They took that to Dillon and completed the song. (Here's the Songfacts interview with Wil Nance.)
  • There are a lot of cowboy-related details in the lyric, as we hear about "roundin' up strays" and struggling with the girth. Strait is an authentic roper, which makes the song appropriate for him. One of the songwriters, Dean Dillon, has some experience with horses and was able to add the appropriate imagery. Dillon also came up with the line, "Just when I think I've got life by the reins, home ain't sweet home on the range."

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