Cowgirls of Lincoln County: Kelsie Wilson, From the Git Go!

by Elsie Eide Kelly

Kelsie’s family emigrated from Finland four generations ago, settled into a home in Agnew, Washington (in the Straits of Juan De Fuca) and that’s where they still are. The stability of a multi-generational home gave her the solid, loving foundation to become a rider from the young age of four. She was the youngest of three girls, and like many other young girls, rode speed horse events like barrel racing and pole bending. She decided at some point that it was too competitive for her, even though she liked the speed. She still didn’t know she was going to become a real cowgirl, even though that’s what she dreamed of. As an independent, free spirit, she also dreamed of living in the desert, where she imagined the cowboys lived.

on horseback with the American Flag

It wasn’t until she was an adult that she had the confidence to start combing the horse sales for likely candidates to train and then turning around and selling to anxious buyers. She just plain loved horses and riding them. In the beginning, the training of her horses was not always completed to the finished product, that was not her market. Often horses were taken along in their training far enough to make it profitable to sell to a buyer who wanted to finish the training herself. Meanwhile, Kelsie was continuing to learn and to find suitable horses to train as she learned. Then she began taking each horse to the appropriate training level so that a new owner could go right into competition. She didn’t know she was getting closer to her dream life.

In her mid-twenties she met a cowboy at the Hermiston Horse Sale in Oregon who tickled her fancy. She spent a year getting to know him, mostly long distance, then he asked her to join him on a large ranch in Eastern Washington, where he worked. She hardly hesitated and has been his partner ever since.

The cowboy life still exists out here although not as much as it once did. However, the country that cattle are still raised upon, especially here in Eastern Washington, requires the intricate skills of a horse and rider to move through, and gather cattle out of. Land that an ATV can only partially navigate. Rough country.

riding onto the horsetrailer

The speed events that Kelsie loved so much translated to the type of riding that cowboys need to do, and that she needed to master but this time in the canyons and bluffs of our Channeled Scablands. It’s not always a full out run, but you’d better be prepared if you jump a maverick cow, to turn her back in the direction you want her to go. All at breakneck speed over some of the roughest country possible to imagine. This is not for the faint of heart.

Kelsie and her partner, Wyatt Stockman, a horseshoeing cowboy, were riding for a large ranch at the start of their serious relationship. They often rode out of the Rock Ranch in Lincoln County, where she cut her cowboy teeth, gathering and moving cows on the many thousands of acres of leased Lincoln County BLM land that was designated to this ranch. But, like most cowboys, they had an opportunity to work on other ranches, learning new things and developing their skills, so they moved through a few of them until they found a horse breeding and training operation that they felt suited their goals best. On the bigger ranches throughout the country, ranch owners prefer to house couples in their particular housing set ups and usually employ both in the same or even different occupations on the ranch. This translated to a good opportunity for them since they both love horse training and also using the horses they train. There’s nothing better than training horses directly in the jobs they will do for their potential owners, that’s their philosophy. It fits in with this horse and cattle ranch operation. She is also specializing in kid-safe, ranch and using ponies, recently working with some Amish ponies (large sized) getting them ready for new homes.

Kelsie Wilson on horseback
Kelsie Wilson

Part of their job is to take the ranch horses they have been training off to the various horse auctions in surrounding states to sell. Then they get to meet old friends and make new ones as they do their job. They also will work occasionally at the cattle sale yards in the area to hone their horses’ skills inside the corrals. This gives them the opportunity to continue to meet new people with whom they can network.

The two have matched their skills and their beliefs into a solid relationship in which to start a family. They have spent a few years raising cow dogs, trying out the different ranches, and thinking of which direction is the best future. Now that they are secure working on the current ranch, they have decided that Kelsie will take some time off from riding to have their first little wrangler. That little rodeo star will be born in April of 22. Both parents can’t wait to raise their child with a deep belief in the Golden Rule and an eye out to keep breeding good horses, good dogs, and work for good Karma coming their way.

Kelsie and her partner, Wyatt Stockman
Kelsie and her partner, Wyatt Stockman

Kelsie has realized her dreams in her late 20s: to become a cowgirl, to live in a desert environment and to begin her own family with the man she loves, much to the whole family’s delight. This will be a wonderful Christmas for the whole outfit! It doesn’t get much better than that!