Skip to content

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.

More Stories

  • Celebration releases tentative class schedule for 2021

    The Tennessee Walking Horse National Celebration recently formed a committee to review and recommend changes to the Celebration’s class schedule. The committee has met over the last couple of months and reviewed past schedules, participation levels, industry trends and other criteria to come up with an initial class schedule. Read More
  • Make plans to attend the National Trainers' Show

    Make plans to attend the 53rd Annual National Trainers Show scheduled for March 18-20, 2021 at the Calsonic Arena in Shelbyville, Tenn... Read More
  • TWHBEA offers Youth Medallion Program for 2021

    The Tennessee Walking Horse Breeders and Exhibitors Association is proud to once again offer the Youth Medallion Program for the 2021 show season... Read More
  • Southern Championship relocates for 2021

    For many years the Georgia Walking Horse Exhibitors Association has sponsored and operated the Southern Championship Charity Horse Show... Read More
  • Walking In The Smokies stall deadline approaching

    The Walking In The Smokies Horse Show, scheduled for April 8-10, 2021, in Pigeon Forge, Tennessee is preparing for their first annual show and would like to send a reminder to anyone needing stalls that the deadline is March 15. Please contact Lexi Stinnett at 828-550-8520 to reserve stalls on the show grounds. Read More
  • Trainers' Show announces judges

    The Walking Horse Trainers’ Association National Trainers’ Show will be held at Calsonic Arena in Shelbyville, Tenn. March 18-20, 2021. Judges for the three-day event will be Wayne Dean, Newton Parks and Johnny Puckett. Read More
  • USDA prepares for 2021 show season

    The USDA recently conducted their virtual HIO training course for the 2021 show season. The USDA and industry recently received the final report from the National Academies of Sciences (NAS) and some of the recommendations in that report are communicated in the new processes the USDA will implement in 2021... Read More
  • WHOA hosts virtual awards ceremony

    On Saturday. February 20th, the Walking Horse Owners’ Association (WHOA) held their National High Point awards for 2020 on their WHOA Facebook page with winners who chose to be zooming in to accept their awards... Read More
  • WHOA to host virtual awards ceremony on February 20

    The Walking Horse Owners’ Association (WHOA) will recognize their award winners from the 2020 show season during a virtual awards ceremony on Saturday, February 20, 2021. The show will be broadcast live on WHOA’s Facebook page beginning at 6 pm central time. Read More
  • FAST Spring Showcase announces judging panel

    The FAST Spring Showcase is pleased to announce that John Fikes, Newton Parks and Sam Sorrell will judge this years’ two-day event. The show will be held at Calsonic Arena in Shelbyville, Tenn. April 16-17, 2021... Read More