“Every horse is different, so they cannot all be trained the same way. It’s not right to fit a horse to a certain training program; the trainer must fit the program to the horse.”
Kallie Emig has definite philosophies for working with all kinds of horses learned through diverse hands-on experiences.
“Growing up in the city of Manhattan, my family didn’t have horses, but I’ve always loved horses,” Kallie said. “Fortunately, I was able to get a horse as a young girl, and now my life centers around horses and cattle.”
Owning and managing the KB Cattle & Horses operation at Maple Hill in Wabaunsee County, Kallie is very diversified. “I’m self-employed with multiple sources of income, so it’s impossible to have a specific title,” she said.
Insistent not to be called a “horse trainer,” as many want to be known, Kallie said, “I’d rather be recognized as a “horsewoman.”
Yes, she trains horses, works with equine on various levels, while managing cow herd operations and ranch improvements. No debate, Kallie Emig is a rancher.
“I persuaded Dad to get me a horse, a Quarter Horse/Arabian cross, when I was five-years-old,” Kallie said. “Dad insisted that I had to take care of the horse myself, which I was more than happy to do.”
Her second horse was a Paint that got Kallie interested in registered American Paint Horse Shows. “I had to pay all of my own expenses by that time,” she said. “So, I learned how to band manes for show horses. Trainer Casey West at Abilene was my first paying customer.”
The business grew such that during high school and college, Kallie banded manes on many top horses at national shows.
While the cash-in-pocket was nice, the task-at-hand was far from luxury. “I slept in my pickup and showered on the grounds, no fancy motels for me,” Kallie reflected.
Showing her own Paint Horse in major competitions didn’t prove to be as enjoyable as she’d anticipated. “I became acquainted with versatility ranch horses when I attended Colorado State University,” Kallie said. “I found them to be more my niche. Horses with diverse abilities and a purpose to do real work.”
Originally intending to pursue a degree in veterinary medicine, Kallie was on the university ranch horse and judging teams. “I actually got unique dual degrees from Colorado State; bachelors in both equine science and Spanish,” she said.
Before deciding to continue her college education, Kallie worked for a Colorado cattle ranch. “I calved out 90 first-calf heifers and fell in love with the cattle business,” she said. “I decided I’d rather spend my life owning a ranch instead of being tied down to a veterinary practice.”
With her objective determined, it took time to accomplish. “I knew I wanted to raise beef cattle and working ranch horses, but that required some doing,” Kallie said.
With her horse background and interests in both equine and beef reproduction, an opportunity became available at Kansas State University. “I applied and was hired as manager of the K-State Horse Unit,” she said.
Her experiences with horses were broadened. “I worked in breeding, training and marketing the horses,” Kallie commented
Although she hadn’t considered training horses for a living, Kallie had the opportunity to start riding several young untrained horses.
“There was a strong demand by many horse owners for somebody to work with their horses,” she said. “Although sometimes challenging, it is such a great feeling to see how a horse can develop with the correct handling.”
After more than three years working at K-State, Kallie had the opportunity to start her own ranching operations.
“I raise ranch horses and have a cow-calf herd here at the ranch owned by my family,” she said. “It was rundown, so I’ve been spending lots of time cleaning up. The musk thistle and pasture intruders have been a major ordeal. I spent all day today hoeing and spraying thistles.”
Commercially starting her own horses and for customers, Kallie spends considerable time on-the-road working for trainers at major horse shows. Hesitant to describe herself as a “groom,” she helps trainers get horses ready for competition.
“I like all horses and have had the opportunity to help trainers and work at many different breed shows,” Kallie said.
She’s also done blood testing at a number of large shows including Morgan’s, Arabians, and Saddlebreds.”
“Most recently, I’ve become more involved with racehorses, sale preparation and showing them at major sales,” Kallie said.
Back on the ranch, Kallie has lowered her own mare number. “I had eight mares at one point, and about 40 horses here,” she said. “That was too many to manage, so I’ve cut back to just two outstanding ranch-bred mares.”
The mares are mated artificially by Kallie with either cooled or frozen semen from the nation’s top-rated ranch horse stallions. “I’ve had a high level of success getting the mares in foal and raising live babies,” she noted.
Her horses are merchandized at various ages. “I do sell foals sometimes, and the other colts depending on what their outcome can be,” Kallie said. “Social media is used for selling certain horses and I also consign horses to sales.”
“I like to start the colts here on the ranch where I hope to increase their value,” Kallie said.
Horse owners from a wide area are coming to her for training their horses. “A lot of them are three-year-olds and older to be used for ranch work and pleasure riding,” she pointed out.
Importance of working with every horse differently was again emphasized. “I start everything in a loping hackamore going slow and soft,” she said. “It’s essential to always be soft so they’ll stay that way the rest of their lives.”
Dedicated to all phases of the horse industry, Kallie serves as president of the Kansas Horse Council. “Horses should be considered part of agriculture, not just family pets, despite all the assets of horse ownership,” she said. “We are working so that horses will be recognized as an important part of the state’s economy.”
Definitely not wanting to dwell on the subject, Kallie Emig has an affection for the Dave Stamey song “Talkin’ Bronc Ballet Blues.”
Admitting having been bucked off horses she was riding, Kallie said: “I’ve fallen off a lot more often though. Anybody who says they’ve never been bucked off, never fallen off, or say horses can’t buck, haven’t ridden very many horses.”