It’s been two long days and I been without make-up or a shower for the same amount of time. We’re all sleep deprived and cold. We’ve traveled to another show – another province away – and that coupled with a late start, 5 horses to saddle and exercise, stalls to set up, show entries to fill out, no time for lunch and the showing of my own mount in approximately 20 minutes, means I’m a complete mess. And low on electrolytes. Nonetheless, I have to get it together.
Memorize pattern 6, Jenn. Remember to hesitate between maneuvers, Jenn. And for God’s sake – get your mare’s face by lifting your rein hand UP! Not waaaay off to the side or you may as well holler over to the judge, “MY HORSE IS UNWILLINGLY GUIDED!!”
Nevermind the fact that you just watched your friend in the previous class come to a crashing halt during her pattern, due to slippery ground. Erase that from memory. Forget that she just went to the hospital. Get your game face on!
Don’t worry about your hat. Trust your horse. Just go in there and do it… There’s no pressure.
(Oh yeah?? No pressure my a**…!)
But I did as I was instructed. I went into that arena. I showed. I didn’t kick butt, but – I exited the show pen with the biggest smile on my face. My new horse and I just survived our 3rd run together and we didn’t make complete fools of ourselves (we took a 3rd placing).
Being a trainer’s wife is a difficult gig some days. It can be a real roller-coaster of emotions at times. And even if someone says to you, “There’s no pressure – just go have fun” – there is always pressure on a trainer’s wife. We are constant representations of our husbands. Not only do we want to present ourselves in a professional manner, we want our husbands to be proud of us.
So it’s something I’ve asked myself many times over: What is with this lifestyle? Why have I been drawn to it all these years? Why am I alright with being a “stall-mucker-for-life”? The late nights? The labour intensive nature of this business? Not to mention the hundreds of thousands of miles on the road and a constant existence out of a suitcase?
And then there are the riding lessons with said trainer husband when one of the main thoughts running through my head is, “Are we having fun yet?” and… “Is the fun over yet???”
I’ve discovered that the answer to all my questions is because I am truly happy. And at the risk of sounding like a total cornball, that happiness lies in my marriage commitment. It’s about caring for and respecting your cowboy, having integrity for yourself and for your relationship and sharing the same values with my husband. It’s about laughing – a lot. And for the most part, it’s about enjoying the adventures we find down the road to the next horse show. I am so grateful to have Clay in my life. The happiness in this lifestyle is something I never expected. Having a partner who is supportive of my dreams and understands horses – and the demand they take on your schedule – is a huge blessing. And believe me, that support and understanding goes both ways.
Not to say that there aren’t some days when I really just want to go up to said trainer husband and kick him in the shins…
The other part of that commitment is for the horses. I admit it: I frickin’ love horses. I’m an addict. All these years and I can barely contain myself when a newborn foal is born in our barn. Its soft, baby coat as velvety as velour. I adore the stallion who nickers softly when we enter the stable. I love watching the 3-year-old come of age and begin to understand the footfalls of her spin maneuver.
The barn, the pasture and the foaling stable are all sanctuaries for me. Horses: I get drunk off their scent and their muscles and their grace.
Horses are in the blood of both Clay and I and we can’t get them out. It’s a good thing too because this lifestyle is one that demands both partners wholeheartedly. It’s fulfilling, wholesome and ….it’s hard to quit.
And I’ve had conversations with other trainer’s wives who echo my sentiments. “We are so lucky to be able to spend our days doing this!” a fellow trainer’s wife recently mentioned to me at a cow horse and reining show in Armstrong, BC.
Yeah that’s right. Washing dirty skid boots. Loading our arms up with so many bridles that we can barely feel the muscles in our forearms anymore. Packing the trailer, unpacking it and then packing it back up again to go home. Mucking out what feels like the hundredth stall. Wiping horse sweat off our good sweaters and scraping the manure from our new shoes, when we never intended to go to the barn in the first place. And finally, standing at the gate hollering and whistling to cheer our husbands on, until we barely have any voice left.
This is an Ode to Trainer’s Wives everywhere. That powerful force on the other side of the gate during the Open class. The one who’s wearing a ballcap, no make-up and dirty jeans.
Sure I grumble. I even mutter things under my breath some days, where some people might be able to hear me. But when someone asks me, “Well are you gonna sit there and cry about it? Or are you gonna cowgirl up??”
Well honestly, sometimes I might have to cry. But more often than not, I prefer to frickin’ get back on the horse and ride my guts out.