Why I Rein: Kalli Bell

Non Pro rider Kalli Bell and her husband, Eric, own a cattle ranch in Hayden, Colorado, where they live with their son, Bodie, and daughter, Macie.

As Told to Wendy Lind

Kalli Bell riding a bay horse
In addition to showing, the Bell’s reiners get used in all aspects of ranching, including gathering and sorting cattle. Bell believes the wide variety of work is great for her horses’ minds.

What is it about the sport of reining that keeps you hooked?

I love that reining is always evolving. The horses get better and better every year. If you look back 10 years, they were great then, but now they’re even better. It’s just so cool to see how the quality and athleticism of reining horses keep improving. 

I love the sport, and I love showing, but now that we have a small breeding program, it’s really fun to see what we can cross on our mare and what she produces. Having a few that we bred and raised that are now riding age has made the sport that much more fun. 

What do you enjoy about breeding your own show horses?

Breeding my own horses has been really rewarding for me, especially because I’ve owned our main broodmare, Cut From A Star (Starlights Starbrite x Cut Me A Chex), since she was 2 years old. I showed her in the futurities and derbies, and now we’re raising her offspring. 

It’s been a lot of fun to pick out what stallions to cross her with, then raise and train up her foals. For example, my 3-year-old this year is a lot like her mom, but better in many ways. For me, that added attachment makes it really fun. When I decided to breed our mare to Einsteins Revolution, it was because I absolutely loved that stallion. Then it’s a really long wait to get the mare bred, a year until the foal is born, and then another three years until you get to show it. 

There are a lot of ups and downs, but it makes it so exciting when you actually get to show them. It’s just really fun and rewarding to watch them grow and change.

You grew up riding and showing all-around horses. What attracted you to reining?

Yes, I always had horses and showed in 4-H events when I was growing up. At some point, there was a reining clinic near us, so my mom and I went and thought it was really cool. That was a long time ago—I was maybe 10 or 11 years old when I decided reining was something I wanted to pursue. 

When I was 13, my mom and I talked my dad into getting a mare that was a reining horse. Looking back, she wasn’t really that much of a reiner, but to us, she  was really cool. Since then, I’ve bought and raised several other reining horses, and I just love the athleticism of reining horses as well as their minds—they’re really trainable. 

Do you ride with an NRHA Professional? 

Yes, I ride with Ryan Rushing. I do most of the training on my horses myself, but I started getting help from Ryan a few years ago with a gelding I raised and trained. He’s a great trainer and a really good coach because he’s very encouraging. There’s a real team aspect when it comes to everybody in his barn.

Do you have a favorite reining maneuver?

All the maneuvers are pretty cool! It’s hard to just pick one. Stops are probably my favorite. I love it when you can run a horse down to a stop at full speed, say whoa, and feel them attack the ground. It’s really fun to ride a good-stopping horse, but it’s also just cool to watch some of those really big-stopping horses. One of the reasons I decided to breed our mare to Einsteins Revolution was because the way he stopped was so phenomenal.

What are your thoughts on the reining community in general?

I’ve always felt it’s a welcoming community, which you can really see at the shows. If it’s a weeklong show, by the end of the week you’re practically family with many of the other exhibitors. I think we’re supportive of each other because we’ve all been showing at some time and had things go really wrong out there. Whether you’re a green reiner or a successful NRHA Professional, there are always people at the rail or in the stands cheering for you.