At the time I started to read the book at the age of approx. 12 (it must have been in the winter of 2000/2001 or a bit earlier) a friend and I used to film little "adventure movies" in the woods near our town all the time. I read the Ring Verse (which is printed before the main story in most copies, I guess) and immediately wrote it down on a piece of paper and showed it to him... saying that we should use this in our next "movie" (having no clue yet that it was one of the most famous and well-known poems from a book history has seen).
Also, by the time I got to TTT, I somehow got confused by the term "horse-people" and imagined them for a large part of TTT as being half men, half animal. I have never liked fantasy as a genre, even as a kid, and my only exposure to it has been "Die Unendliche Geschichte" by Michael Ende (quite popular in Germany) - in which a centaur plays a part. So somehow I got on the wrong track and only realized it when Gandalf tells the story of Shadowfax and I started to realize that something must be wrong ;)
Read the Silmarillion during the years LotR came to the cinemas... and read some parts of the HoMe, Book of Lost Tales, two Tolkien biographies and Tolkien's letters (between the ages of 13 and 16). Plus getting secondary literature such as a Tolkien encyclopedia and the Historical Atlas of ME.
Only then did I pick up "The Hobbit" (age 17-18)... and that maybe the reason I never warmed to it, and was glad when in 2007 (aged 19 by now) "The Children of Hurin" came out.