How to Train a Farm Spouse

Baxter Black is an American cowboy, poet, philosopher, and former large-animal veterinarian.  And a funny guy!

This funny little article was published in the March 2013 edition of Western Farmer-Stockman. I thought you would all enjoy it on this Valentine’s Day!

Spousal Training

Key to a successful marriage is spousal training. Many stories exist when a “cowboy type” (male or female) marries someone with an urban upbringing. Usually it is the mail heir to the ranch who goes to A&M, falls in love with a city girl and brings her home.

Mother and Dad get a feelin’ pretty quick whether the “tryout” is going to fit in the family. Maybe she’s funny or loves kids, rolls up her sleves and does he dishes, and really appears to care for their lovesick son. Or immediately realize they better get a pre-nuptial agreement to keep from losing the ranch! But most brides are willing to learn something new to please the groom.

Cary came home with a young horse. He was pretty shiny, but not too “civilized.” Cary haltered the nervous 3-year-old and began its training. By the fourth day Bad News was still not coming along as quickly as Cary had hoped. The horse had been introduced to the saddle, but you could say they weren’t best friends.

On Day 5 Cary asked his new bride of three weeks if she would come and hep him. He was keenly aware that she was unschooled in animal husbandry, but it would be a good chance for her to get a lesson in spousal training. He handed her a 12-foot training whip and climbed into Bad News’ saddle. He instructed, “I’m gonna ride this horse in a circle. If he balks or stops, you just show him the whip and cluck.”

“OK,” she said, but she was wondering what was a cluck? Then Bad News stopped. “Now,” said Cary quietly.

She laid that whip across Bad News’ butt like it was a Cat-o-Nine Tails and crowed like a rooster! Bad News went to buckin’ over the slip rail and through the irrigation pipes! Cary hung up and flipped over a corrugated culvert.

Cary could her his wife screaming! He thought, “She’s concerned about me.” Then he realized she was racing for the house, cursing him colorfully.

Today, 10 years later, he loves her still. They have three kids, she has a job in town, and the spousal training continues. He fixes breakfast, picks up his socks, runs the washer/dryer and dishwasher, and takes turns with the 3-year-old (child, not horse).

They’ve learned to compromise; she deigns to feed the stock when he is gone, but draws the line at holding horses under any condition. A nice compromise.




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