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Walking Horse Trainer Salute: Kyle Elliott



Kyle Elliott – Shelbyville, Tennessee

HOW LONG HAVE YOU BEEN TRAINING HORSES PROFESSIONALLY?
I gave up my amateur status in 2013 at the age of 21.

TELL US SOME FAMILY HISTORY OF RAISING AND SHOWING WALKING HORSES.
I started out showing Morgans and Saddlebreds in Enumclaw, Washington. My mother and I saw a program on RFD TV about TWHBEA and did more research on walking horses, which led us to Allison Smart, whom at the time trained about two miles from my parents’ farm. I began riding with her at the age of six. In addition to Allison, I also rode with noteworthy flat shod trainers Hannah Myatt, Laurie Toone, Mikal Spooner and Linda Arnold. In 2014 I relocated to New London, Ohio and trained out of
the same barn as Jim Potter for five years before moving to Shelbyville, Tennessee in the fall of 2019. 

OF ALL THE HORSES YOU HAVE TRAINED, OPEN AND AMATEUR, DO YOU HAVE A HORSE YOU FEEL MADE YOU INTO THE TRAINER YOU ARE TODAY? WHAT HORSE WAS THAT AND WHY DO FEEL THAT WAY?
I like to think I’ve walked away learning something from every horse I’ve had the opportunity to pilot. If I had to choose one, I’d say She’s Designed To Push taught me to appreciate self carriage and a good lope, and the paths those things can take you down. 

WHAT ADVICE WOULD YOU GIVE TO YOUNG ASPIRING TRAINERS?
Late to bed, early to rise, work like mad and advertise! In all seriousness, be honest and forthcoming with your customers. Watch the trainers you idolize, you can learn something from all of them.
Always remember that the horse is what brought you to the dance and you owe it all to them. 

WHAT DO YOU LOOK FOR IN THE PERFECT YEARLING?
Short couples, a loose hip and shoulder, long pasterns. I tend to prefer to see a yearling lead than see it swing down the fence. Beyond that, I care more about the brain. 

HOW ARE YOU MANAGING THE COVID-19 OUTBREAK? IS YOUR BARN ON LOCKDOWN? ARE YOU STILL HOLDING YOUR REGULAR CLIENT APPOINTMENTS? HOW HAS THIS AFFECTED YOUR TRAINING?
We shut the barn down to clients and visitors on March 14th, so client appointments haven’t been taking place. I’ve certainly appreciated the extra time, but feel bad for those that haven’t been able to come see their horses and have their usual lesson. 

WHO IS YOUR FAVORITE PAST WORLD GRAND CHAMPION AND WHY?
I loved The Black Night Shade for his timing and hard walk, and for the way he’d build as the class went on. 

IF THERE WAS ONE AREA OF THE INDUSTRY YOU COULD CHANGE OR RAMP UP, WHAT WOULD IT BE AND WHY?
The three-gait division feels like too easy of an answer. I’d like to find a way to increase participation in the All-Around events. Giving people the opportunity to have one horse that can compete in three or four different areas is a section of the business that other breeds have done a great job capitalizing on. Some people can better justify a training bill and show fee if they get to do the Western Riding, Trail, Horsemanship, and Showmanship, and not just do a pleasure class. 

IF YOU WERE NOT AT THE BARN OR A HORSE SHOW, WHAT WOULD WE FIND YOU DOING IN YOUR FREE TIME?
I don’t get a lot of that, but I spend a lot of time with my blue heeler, Stella. Otherwise I’m always up for a night at a dance club!

WHAT ARE SOME OF THE TV SHOWS, MOVIES OR NETFLIX FEATURES HAVE YOU BEEN BINGE WATCHING DURING THE PANDEMIC?
I just finished Ozark, so far I haven’t found anything else on Netflix to occupy my evenings with other than reruns of The West Wing.

WHAT WOULD YOU SAY HAS BEEN THE HIGHLIGHT OF YOUR CAREER THUS FAR?
Bringing up, promoting, and implementing the American National Insurance Maiden Championship.
Jessica Hlebak and I spent the better part of a year planning and implementing the class from scratch. We thought the idea would work, but we certainly never thought it would become what it did. Winning it unanimously with WC Twenty Four Carrots ML was icing on the cake!

WHAT WORDS OF WISDOM CAN YOU GIVE TO THE HORSE INDUSTRY ON THE PANDEMIC?
We’re all in this together, and the more we continue letting this spread the longer we have to deal with it.

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