Customer Comments

I first met Kelli Paulson, horse trainer and riding instructor of Mid States Ranch Horses 2 years ago. It had been 27 years since I sold my last horse and basically left behind my first love. I was doing my “homework” in preparation for the purchase of a new horse. I was feeling guilty about spending the time and money on myself. After all, I had spent the last 27 years catering to the needs of my child, husband, household and career. So focusing on my own desires seemed self-indulgent.
Karen and Image
My husband and son encouraged me to follow my dreams. They built the perfect horse shed, dry lot, and storage building. They worked tirelessly putting up fencing around our pasture. I focused on finding that perfect match, a horse I could build my confidence on. I attended and audited several ranch horse events, shows and clinics sponsored by Mid States Ranch Horses. I was impressed with the traditional discipline and fundamental horsemanship that Kelli Paulson promoted. Safety of the horse and rider was a number one priority. I learned about the importance of groundwork, one rein (emergency) stops, and respectful horses vs. disrespectful horses.
One day I clicked on: The ad read, “Great family horse. Will do whatever you ask including crossing bridges, tarps, teeter totter, dragging logs, branches or sleds, open and close gates, side passes, haunches in, half pass, leads, pivots on front and hindquarters, has worked cattle, lessons available.” I fell in love with her at first sight. Her name was “Image”, a 5-year-old APHA mare and granddaughter of the well-known foundation stallion “Mardelle Dixon”.
My husband and I drove out to Kelli’s place to meet Image and take her for a ride. I was very pleased, but not sold. It wasn’t until I rode Image over the teeter-totter and a rabbit darted out from under her feet that I made my decision. Image didn’t flinch; she stayed perfectly calm and focused on her job. She was the well broke horse I was looking for, and most importantly, the horse my husband felt I was safe on.
With my husband’s backing, I bought Image and took some much needed riding lessons from Kelli. When I was in my teens and early twenties there seemed to be no limits to what I would try on horseback. I returned to riding realizing that the confidence of my youth was now replaced by “what ifs”. What if she bucks? What if she spooks? What if she rears? Sometimes I wasn’t even sure what it was I was afraid of. I worked on the basic fundamentals of good horsemanship, over coming my fear, developing my timing, feel, communication and cues. In return, Image developed trust and respect in me as a leader. Building on that partnership, we attended a 3-day (overnight) cowgirl clinic sponsored by Mid State Ranch Horses. It was at this clinic that I met other women just like me with the same fears and feelings of inadequacy. It was truly a rewarding and very beneficial experience.
Since purchasing Image, I have never been happier. The only thing I question is why I never did it sooner. The bravado and complete abandon of my youth is gone. So are the feelings of guilt, uncertainty and irrational fear that came with age. I look forward to decades ahead of a healthy, happy, active lifestyle. I thank Kelli for helping me develop a stronger awareness, better horsemanship skills and true confidence in my riding and the relationship I have with my horse. Everyday is a new experience and wonderful adventure. I look forward to participating in future horse events and learning all I can. Life is good, “thank you Kelli!”

Submitted by: Karen Johnson-Harris, Gretna, NE, 02-04-08
As posted on Horsetails by Vicki...
What an incredible day. First of all, we had cloud cover the entire morning, and while I didn't see a thermometer, my horse never broke a sweat, and I didn't either. I think the cloud cover burned off about 11:30 as we were finishing, we sat in the shade and ate Subway sandwiches that Kelli provided out of our ($35.00) entry fee(!).
There couldn't have been a better contingent to go and check out this venue for our fellow Horsetalers - Shari Parys, Competitive Trail Rider, 4-H leader to all, and general all around horsewoman. Sheila - we all know has the best horses and the least (good) experience outside of the arena. Vic - I don't even know how to classify myself, and Deacon the youngster, willing (sometimes) but green.
Only 13 riders today, very cool for us, as it means just the rightamount of standing around with your horse and having other horses leave it, to in itself, be worth the money you paid in an entry fee as a training lesson. Shari, Sheila and I did the arena challenge course first. I thought I was out of it when I saw the first obstacle - a swimming noodle gauntlet. (See my Deb Campbell despooking clinic post for the horse-eating swim noodle experience). Each rider completes each course in its entirety before the next rider goes. First rider is Sheila. HELLO! WHO BROUGHT IN THE FLIPPIN RINGER HERE? Let me short-cut and just say, she and Cooper do EVERY OBSTACLE and make it look like they planned it themselves. Smooth, very smooth and we have pictures...
I won't bore you guys with a play-by-play. The things I thought -"no way", we did. The things we've done 100 times, he balked at. Shari and Wiley - just classy. Mark Lyon asked me (after Shari and Wiley had completed the creek course) who she was. I told him, told him a little about what she does, and he said that she was the only one the entire day that had backed the circle correctly.
I was really, really happy with Deacon's day. He was responsive and quiet and despite a couple of happy, disrespectful crowhops (I'm telling you I'll know how to fix these by next week - (when I'm going back up to ride with them), he was very good. Did some things well, did some things not at all.
At the end of the ride, we had the choice to stay and ride with them as they rode training horses, or go, four of us stayed and worked on obstacles in the arena. My entry fee was more than paid for when Mark rode Deacon for an hour after showing me how he was running through my leg. Showed me what to do - then asked if he could ride him. I won't take the time to describe it, because I don't think I can. He's really taken me ahead with the colt in leaps and bounds, because he rode him through some disrespectful stuff that I would have been hard pressed to do (o.k., read, never have done, because I was too afraid). He, and the colt, made it look just like it should. Like lightbulbs going on. Superb horsemanship on his part.
My take - these guys are the real deal. I'm seriously impressed with them both.
I really don't have the brain cells to pontificate further. It's the best money I've spent - the cheapest training venue I've seen, the most bang for the buck, the most rider-friendly despite my earlier fears. Felt like I was truly sitting in their living room, and that they were there to help me with my horsemanship goals.
Mark and Kelli absolutely get it. By the way, the woman that won today is a new friend of mine - her name is Kara Macafee (I'm sure I spelled the last name wrong, sorry Kara). She came into this competition/trail obstacle course last year - in her words, "hangin onto the horn with both hands"' riding a rank, disrespectful, dangerous horse. She walked away today with the check.
This is riding in real life.
What a rush.
More to come...
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