Most would agree that watching a talented reining horse and rider in competition is nothing short of breathtaking. Pure, subtle harmony between partners, a stunning athleticism exhibited by the horse, and a brand of speed and showmanship that’s hard to compare with any other discipline in equestrian sport. And yet, the “getting there” part—the part born out of long, trying hours in the schooling ring shared between horse, rider, and scowling trainer—that part looks like every other discipline in equestrian sport.

As it turns out, reining trainers are just as inexhaustibly patient, chronically frustrated, and full of biting one-liners as other trainers. The only difference?

Cowboy hats.