Full Article - Marion Daily Republican Online
photo: Pat Phillips of Crab Orchard.
MARION - In recent long-distance horse races, a different training regimen for horses not known for capabilities in distance events appears to be working for Shawnee Sunrise Farm owners Keith and Sandy Kibler.
Gaited horses such as the Tennessee Walking Horse and Missouri Foxtrotter were bred for life as workhorses or transporting circuit-riding clergymen, but the Kiblers found training methods to make such horses competitive against Arabians, which are known for racing abilities.
This year, the Kiblers' horses have recorded seven top-10 finishes, with five in the top-five.
"Probably 95 percent of horses competitive in this are Arabians,” Keith said. “Often we get funny looks when we take our horses off the trailer because our horses are much bigger and heavier-boned than most horses used for endurance."
In a recent weekend event outside Salem, the Kiblers’ horses swept top honors. In Saturday 30-mile races, two horses were victorious and another was third. On Sunday, the Marion crew claimed the top three spots in a 50-mile ride.
Marion resident Myrl Upchurch finished second in the adult division (behind Keith in the 50-miler) in her first-ever race after serving on Kibler’s crew last year. She led for a portion of the day. Marion High School student Michelle Lazorchak had the best junior time.
“We are so proud of these horses. They are proving they can do so much more than others think they can do. We are elated,” Keith said.