About Kelli Horsemanship

Hi, I’m Kelli Paulson, Kelli Horsemanship + Training with Trail Obstacles


I was born horse crazy, grew up with horses, was a good rider and did a little showing with some success, but not as much as I’d hoped for. I took on a few training horses with some success. I was a good rider. Howerver,  I knew wanted more but I wasn’t clear on what that really meant or what it even looked like.

One day at a horse event, there appeared this horse that was soft, willing, relaxed, confident and obedient.

I wanted THAT!

kelli paulson learn horsemanship

I just didn’t know exactly what it was or how to get it.

In 2003, there was a poster at a feed store for a colt starting clinic. It was there I was introduced to groundwork and round-pen work. By the second day, I was riding my previously unridden horse and I was hooked.

And that is where my new journey began!


Mustang Trail Obstacles Kelli Paulson Clinic Horse Trainer

Attending numerous horsemanship clinics and learning many more tools, I refined my skills working with dozens of horses over the course of the next year.

With practice, the pieces came together.

Horses began to want to be with me. My timing and feel were developing. Horses willingly responded to all of the questions and challenges  put in front of them.

In 2004, Mid States Ranch Horses, LLC began with a friend. We specialized in colt starting and making ranch horses while teaching a few clinics. This was a time of intense learning, as we started 8-10 colts per month, taught clinics and  turning out really nice horses. Horses who knew how to try, be willing, and grow in confidence.

Trail Rider Challenge (TRC) was developed in 2006 by Kelli Paulson Crist to give people a way to measure their skills, develop a partnership with their horse and set goals. TRCs are a great way to have fun with your horse, expose a horse to new things and meet horse friends.

Trai Rider Challenge

The Training with Trail Obstacles Clinic series prepares riders to compete in a Trail Rider Challenge or similar event.

It also helps you to have a LIFE READY HORSE!




Learn the tools.       Take action.          Practice.

When the foundation is right,

you can accomplish anything with your horse.

horse clinic trail obstacles


However, I soon discovered my passion was not in colt starting or ranch horses.


My passion is teaching people, like myself, who have horses, but want something more!


However, another skill was needed to get to where I wanted to be.

That skill was dressage. As a youth, I fantasized about dressage but didn’t have access to learning about the discipline, it was pre-internet days.

Once again, I jumped into the learning process.

  • First, just learning the basics of dressage; how to ride a test, what happens at a show, terms and vocabulary.
  • Next, learned training techniques and how to get a horse to look and move like a dressage horse.
  • With tools and practice, learning to understand “on the bit” and collection.
  • Finally, with more tools and lots of practice, it’s the whole package of my dreams!


Finally, I have the tools and the  ability  to “make” the horse I want!


 In 2014, I was introduced to Working Equitation.

Oh, Happy Day! Working Equitation consists of 4 trials: Dressage, Ease of Handling (similar to a trail course), Speed (on an obstacle course) and Cow (similar to team penning). This is my dream sport. I soon began a Working Equitation affiliate in Nebraska and hosted a bunch events. Becoming an “L” Judge for the Confederation for Working Equitation and WE United.

Quickly I realized there needs to be a better way to learn the sport of Working Equitation. Many details where not written down. The sport needs an instruction manual as well as a training and practice guide. Tarrin Warren  and I spent months writing it all down and co-authored the Working Equitation Handbook, released Summer 2017. The Working Equitation Handbook received a prestigious 2017 Winnie Award!

Learn more at www.WorkingEquitationHandbook.com

working equitation handbook

I love learning and looking at things as building blocks. 

This helps me teach and communicate in an effective, simple, easy to understand way.

Trail Obstacle Clinic

Teaching Clinics is my PASSION!


How to Build Simple Trail Obstacles

I love Trail Obstacles! They have so many benfits for both horse and rider. 

Many of my clients ask me about my obstacles, dimensions and how to build them. They would ask to take pictures and more than once, a rider would call her husband, to come and see the obstacles. He would then arrive, tape measure in hand!

So, I decided to write it all down so many more horse owners can experience the benefits of trail obstacles.

How to BUild Simple Trail Obstacles
Kelli Paulson Crist Horsemanship
Having  worked with over 600 horses and teaching or hosting hundreds of events, I can help riders learn in a simple, clear an effective way.

I look forward to meeting you!


Kelli Paulson Crist

Seeing riders learn and succeed, makes me smile!