Neu Perspectives

Husband-and-Wife Work Crew

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Working with livestock can be complicated when partnered with the same person with whom you share the bathroom sink. But there are advantages.

By Kelli Neubert

April 9, 2018

160513 wh classic 232Many businesses in the horse business are run by husband-and-wife teams. Photo by Ross Hecox.

For many who train horses, raise livestock or have to do daily chores involving animals of any sort, working with your husband or wife is not a dream, a nightmare, or even a notion. It’s simply a reality.

I happen to be one of those people. Not only do my husband and I work with each other, but we run our own business, which means we work with each other, for each other, for other people, with animals, every day. Whew. And although I’m not nearly as seasoned as many (going on 7 years this spring), the hours logged with my husband, side-by-side is an unprecedented number and I feel grateful that it’s a partnership that works.

Some of the best working relationships I’ve seen on ranches, in the show pen or just simply running a business together have been husband-wife teams. And no, it’s not always easy and it’s not always smooth. There are kinks to work out and oftentimes there are different talents and knowledge that each person brings to the table. There’s patience and effort and growth and support that’s involved in having a successful partnership when working together. But I admire the heck out of the ones who do it.

See, it can be thought of as a little crazy by many to spend that much time with another person.

But when you are side-by-side with someone who chose and loves you, there’s a level of caring and safety involved that’s hard to find with the average hired hand. And after you get through some waves, bumps and learning curves, it can be an incredibly efficient and well-oiled business. I know plenty of wives who can take one look at their husband on the first horse of the day and know whether the rest of the string will need snaffles or bridles. I’ve been around couples where they depend on each other to keep records straight, heifers in the correct pastures, and which pickup goes on which trailer. They know each other’s strengths and “divide and conquer” accordingly.

Now don’t get me wrong, it’s not always sunshine and roses. As I’m sure many husband-wife teams can attest, there are days where you just…need…your…space. Although we’d all like to stay in a “learning frame of mind,” sometimes it’s hard to take advice, wisdom or help from the same person we share the bathroom sink with. It also becomes awkward to vent at the dinner table about issues with a co-worker.

So here’s a little shout-out to the ones who work together. Through thick and thin, calving season, colic episodes, child trials and concession stand meals. I admire your grit, savvy and ability to balance. You successfully run a business, indulge in your hobbies and a keep a household together while holding onto your sense of humor. You compliment often and bite your tongue when necessary (even when you have the BEST comeback!). You utilize the fact that you know each other well to your advantage, and you always grab the tally book when he forgets it on the table (even though it would be sort of fun to teach him a lesson).

DSC 0318Luke and Kelli Neubert. Photo courtesy Kelli Neubert.

The long days are really long and the tough days are super tough, but there’s no better feeling than celebrating the victories in your job with the one you love. Find reasons to celebrate your success together, whether it’s winning the first place check at a show, getting your calves sorted, branded and processed easily, or heck—even if it’s just getting your chores done and in the house at a decent hour.

Now THAT would be a dream come true!


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