Trainers’ wives may not always look the same, but you can bet they’re prepared for it all.

Before we begin, I want to state that in my world, with my experience, most of our trainers are men. And most of them have wives. So, sure, this can be taken as being un-politically correct or not covering all of the bases, but at this point in the season, I’m so weary of trying to keep everyone content that I am just going to forge ahead with the term “Trainer’s Wife.” (And just know, I think everyone else who might play the “wife” role — spouse, husband, boyfriend, girlfriend, partner — is pretty incredible too. And this should go without saying, but I’m referencing the ones who are out there in the trenches daily, working hard and making things happen, and not the bon-bon, soap-watching wives (though I applaud you for other reasons). 

How do I begin to recognize the trainer’s wife? The title alone is a job description. It’s a position where there are 93 things to do in different directions, and it’s just quicker and easier for her to do them herself than delegate. She knows her stuff. She is calloused and compassionate. She is optimistic and pragmatic. And I guarantee you, a lot of the time, she is tired. 

In many cases, the “wife” part could be dropped, as she sometimes functions as a trainer herself. She knows the ins and outs of the program and has plenty of feel. She brings her own talents to the table in every barn and carries a love for the horse in her heart and her hands. 

She is an accountant and a bookkeeper. She is a cook, problem-solver, mediator and cheerleader. She is the manual labor, truck driver, loper, gopher, teacher, taxi, vet tech, personal assistant and the HR Department. She comes equipped with DoorDash, Banamine, Insurance cards and a checkbook. 

Not to mention, she does a pretty good job of keeping her husband out of the bars and in the saddle. 

Some of these wives are fancy, with an intentional hairstyle and a pleasant fragrance, and they seem to have it all organized and together. Some have cracked hands, a sweat-stained hat, and the back and shoulders of a 180-pound man on their 125-pound frame. Some are cowboy, and some aren’t country. But they all adapt to the job, and I admire them all for what they can do. 


Yes, he missed in the short go at the rope horse futurity, but she’s there after the run to take the reins, loosen the cinch and tell her guy, “Boy, your horse sure wanted to work well, though!” When he does make the finals, she is there with the Coggins, Corona, three bridles to choose from, a clean shirt and water buckets, ready to cheer. She’s got his back, his heart and all the passwords for their mobile banking and billpay.   

At times, yes, she can be a little salty. But I’ve come to realize it probably means she is good at what she does. Salt is a preservative. Salt is a byproduct of sweat. It keeps things running at capacity for much longer, and it comes with hard work. She is thankful for her life but knows it’s tough. Burnout happens, but it can’t stay for long, for there are things to do. There are people, animals and deadlines counting on her. Her world is a swing between hope and loss, family and customers, wins and disappointments. But she forges on and continues the mental checklist, crossing off and adding perpetually. 

Some of them are out there in the arena themselves, and some of them have other obligations. I know wives who are 75% of the business, and some have full-time gigs elsewhere and can’t take on all of the roles that come with the title. But either way, she is often a big part of making dreams come true. This holds true for her husband, their customers, owners, breeders, non-pros, peers and children, too. She is the engine, glue, good cheer and the salt that keeps those wheels in motion, headed towards goals, staying on track. 

Whether you envy her, pity her or don’t even notice her, realize that a good trainer’s wife is quite the special find. It can be a job without a lot of recognition and very little star power, but it’s certainly an important, full-time gig. 

Know them, love them, thank them. 

And maybe treat them to a manicure once in a great while. 

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4 Comments

  1. Delaney Guttler Reply

    Wow, Kelli this was beautifully written and touched all the bases of what a tough, demanding and sometimes unappreciated job the Cowboy’s Wife has. Kudos to you for writing this. I hope that your Cowboy appreciates you and all that you do!

  2. Laney Humphrey Reply

    I just love your way with words and descriptions, Kelli. This is another slam dunk of a piece.

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