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The Road To The Top


Nell was born and raised in Northern Illinois and received riding lessons for Christmas when she was 10 years old. Little did she know at the time, that the course of her life had been changed forever.

Nell’s first horse was a little old grade mare, but soon she wanted to learn to show and the little old mare couldn’t do the job. The horse that she could afford to trade for was a 2 year old appaloosa gelding.  So at 11 years old Nell had big dreams and a horse that was barely broke.  Nell had a big challenge ahead but she knew she wanted to show and was excited to have the chance to try.

As a youth, Nell rode the appaloosa gelding as well as several other 2yr olds.  She trained and showed each horse until it was worth enough to upgrade to something better. There was only money for one horse at a time. So each time she wanted to show at a higher level that meant selling the horse she had to have the means to buy the horse she wanted. Gaining experience the old fashioned way by riding anything and everything she could get her hands on, Nell rode and showed many sale horses of all breeds, ages, disciplines, and backgrounds…. each time taking what she learned on one and applying it to the next.  At the training stable where she learned to ride, each rider was solely responsible for the training and preparation of their own show horses. You did all the work yourself and if you put the time in, you got the results. With that came the glory if your horse did well and the responsibility if your horse did not.  Learning the values of hard work, dedication, how to win, and how to loose from an early age shaped the person that Nell is today.  She learned horsemanship and gained experience from riding hundreds of different horses and spending hour after hour in the barn and in the saddle.  In addition, she learned the responsibility for a horse goes well beyond riding and you make your decisions based on the best interest of the animal. If you make the best of the horse you have and keep setting your goals a little higher each time, eventually you will get to where you want to be.

Nell has been training and showing horses professionally for 20 years. During this time she has worked for and managed boarding, breeding, and training farms with an average of 100 to 160 head.  Often wearing many hats to keep operations running smoothy and doing what it takes to make sure everything was done right.  Nell is extremely grateful to have had the experience of managing the daily operations of these successful farms and programs and all the interaction with customer horses, boarders, students, and of course the unexpected in preparation for running her own business. Nell now runs Nell Tekampe Performance Horses full time and focuses primarily on training and showing paints and pintos. She coaches a team of youth and amateur riders many of which Nell has trained both horse and rider from the ground up to over 75 world, reserve world, congress, and national APHA, PtHA, NSBA, and WDAA awards and titles.

Always staying involved in all aspects of the horse industry and contributing wherever she can, keeps Nell at the forefront of industry standards.  She recently continued her education at Colorado State for equine reproduction and attends several judging and show seminars throughout the year. Nell is a lifetime APHA, PtHA, and NSBA member. She is an APHA Professional horseman, a POA, WI, and IL carded judge, and the 2014 PtHA Professional Horsewoman of the year and Hall of Fame inductee. She also currently serves as the IPtHA Vice President and is a National PtHA field rep.

Nell Lives in Richmond, Illinois with her husband Kenny who comes from a third generation horse family and is a horseshoer by trade. The family would not be complete without mentioning “Gremmie” (a very large Maincoon cat who holds down the fort while everyone’s traveling) and “Tuffy”, everyone’s favorite horse show dog who refuses to be left behind when the trailer pulls out.