The Secret Lives of Horse Book Authors: Kayla Starnes and Her Surprise Champion Toy Australian Shepherd

"Rocky," TSB author Kayla Starnes' surprise champion Toy Aussie. Photo courtesy of Kayla Starnes.

“Rocky,” TSB author Kayla Starnes’ surprise champion Toy Aussie. Photo courtesy of Kayla Starnes.


We all know that riders, trainers—and yes, horse book authors—have lives that extend beyond the barn and outside the paddock. Ever wonder what they like to do when they’re not on the back of a horse or teaching a clinic?

TSB author Kayla Starnes, author of the USTRC-endorsed TEAM ROPING 101, is on her way to the Toy Australian Shepherd Association of America (TASAA) National Championships in Ridgefield, Washington, October 16-18, 2013. And Kayla’s not flying all the way from Texas to Washington to ogle Toy Aussies—she and her own pup “Rocky” are competing for the National Championship.

The TASAA National Championships is a specialty show put on once a year for competitors to show off their best Toy Aussie. According to the TASAA website, it is the highest honor to be crowned a TASAA National Champion.

“Toy Australian Shepherds are a smaller version of the standard-sized Aussie,” explains Kayla. “They have the same look and herding ability, in a 13-inch tall package and have become very popular with the horse crowd the past few decades because they are perfectly-sized for the road.”


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“The fact that we are going to the National Championship is still crazy to me!” Kayla admits. “Six months ago, I hadn’t ever seen a dog show and Rocky had lived seven years in obscurity as a ranch dog. Then, an acquaintance invited me to a show and we went, just to watch. There, the show secretary told me I really should consider entering my dog, so I did. A fellow competitor was kind enough to show me the ropes and help me with some quick grooming. Rocky ended that day Reserve Best In Show!

“That evening, Rocky managed to steal my chili dog when I wasn’t looking, so I had to buy myself a new dinner. I forgave him, of course, and now it’s tradition—every time he wins, he gets a hotdog. Rocky has eaten a lot of them this summer! He has earned his championship title in conformation, as well as an international championship.

“Nationals will be his last competition. He’s retiring from the show ring and gets to come home and be a dad. In fact, his first puppies are already on their way! That litter should be here just in time for the holidays.”

Kayla assures us that win or lose at Nationals, Rocky gets a chili dog. He’s earned it!

Everyone at TSB wishes Kayla and Rocky the best of luck at the TASAA National Championships next week.

(And stay tuned to the TSB blog for more Secret Lives of Horse Book Authors!)




TEAM ROPING 101, by Kayla Starnes and endorsed by the USTRC, is available from the TSB online bookstore.



What they’re saying about TEAM ROPING 101:

“This book will walk you step by step through picking out the perfect team roping horse to preparing for your first competition, and all the training in between. ” —Clinton Anderson, Trainer, Clinician, and Author

“With information covering everything from picking the right horse to roping your first steer, this book will help you on your way to becoming a great team roper.” —Horse & Rider

“The title should have been Team Roping 1001, because it is so full of great information. . . . It’s all here, and it’s a keeper.” —Working Ranch

TEAM ROPING 101 should be the essential tool for team ropers and horse enthusiasts of every age alike!” —Chris Cox, Trainer, Clinician, and Team Roper

Become Part of a Dressage Revolution

Linda Tellington-Jones teaching at the Xenophon Symposium in 2011.

Linda Tellington-Jones teaching at the Xenophon Symposium in 2011.

Introducing a dressage book like no other.

TSB is thrilled to announce the release of DRESSAGE WITH MIND, BODY & SOUL, the unique and thought-provoking new book from internationally recognized trainer and animal behaviorist Linda Tellington-Jones (books ship February 5, 2013).

Today, we are faced with numerous challenges as we try to train, ride, and compete our dressage horses. We are short on time, high on ambition, and urged and encouraged by those who have met with great success as riders, trainers, judges, and commentators, to numb ourselves to the needs of the horse, to close his stall doors, crank tight his noseband, to turn away from the stress in his eyes as we ride—whether for our own pleasure, or for points, ribbons, and trophies.

Linda Tellington-Jones holds a passionate belief that when humans choose to constrain horses, and force them, it is only out of some kind of necessity—perhaps they don’t have any other means of controlling their mount; they lack the knowledge, experience, and resources to choose other means of attaining a goal. Linda travels throughout the world each year, teaching horsemen and women—some of them top international dressage riders—the fundamentals of her renowned Tellington Method. She knows that most dressage riders and trainers mean well by their horses, and if given the right tools, they can be helped to find better ways to fulfill equestrian ambition while ensuring happy, healthy, willing partners.

“I knew this book could be very different from what is already available to dressage riders,” says Linda. “Over the years I have studied and read about both the scientific and spiritual aspects of our lives—the reasons we are who we are and why we do what we do find their roots in both science and spirituality. Dressage is a wonderful example of how science and spirituality come together. In some ways, there are few sports as demanding of precision, practice, and repetition, as dependent on an understanding of horse and human biomechanics, as dressage. And yet without feel, without soul, without connection, dressage is just a series of mechanical movements. It takes both science and spirituality to produce riding art.”


Linda working with Ingrid Klimke.

Ready to join the revolution? Here are three core lessons from DRESSAGE WITH MIND, BODY & SOUL:

1  Set skepticism aside. As riders and trainers we are willing to try all manner of tack, techniques, and methods, often at any price, in an effort to move up a level, win a medal, or simply “dance” with our horse for a few magical minutes in the quiet light of a summer evening. The tools and techniques of the Tellington Method come without cost and with infinite promise. Why not open our mind and give it a try?

2  Cultivate tolerance and forgiveness. With practice, you can learn to tolerate your own learning curve and that of your horse, and to forgive your mistakes and look forward to the next—improved—attempt. Linda delves deeper here with her lesson in Ho ‘opononpono, an ancient Hawaiian practice of reconciliation and forgiveness that she encourages us to aim inward toward our soul. Forgive yourself for thinking your horse is too flighty, too flat-gaited, too poorly balanced, and ultimately, you can change the outcome of your work together.

3  Dare to reexamine that which you already think you know. In DRESSAGE WITH MIND, BODY & SOUL, Linda asks us to look again at the most basic ways we interact with our horse: how we talk to him, how we groom him, how we care for his fundamental needs. Linda sheds new light on the horsecare practices to which we’ve all long adhered, and shows us how even the minutest of changes can make all the difference in the world to our horse.

Linda Tellington-Jones is the internationally recognized equine expert who developed the Tellington Method approach to training and communicating that can be learned and practiced by horsemen and women of all levels. She was honored as the 1994 Horsewoman of the Year by the North American Horsemen’s Association and presented with the ARICP Lifetime Achievement Award, given annually to a person who profoundly affects the equine world in a positive manner. Linda has worked with many top dressage riders from around the world over the course of her career, including Klaus Balkenhol and his daughter Anabel; Ingrid Klimke and her father, the late Dr. Reiner Klimke; Nicole Uphoff; Kyra Kyrklund; Robert Dover; and Charlotte Bredahl-Baker, to name just a few.

DRESSAGE WITH MIND, BODY & SOUL can be ordered now at the TSB online bookstore (books ship February 5, 2013).