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Fri., Oct. 9
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North Lawrence man’s Morgan horse honored for strides made at competitions


NICHOLVILLE — Clark M. Tharrett’s Morgan horse loped away with some of the country’s top honors last year in competitive trail riding.

In February, Mr. Tharrett’s horse, Kyle, which has a breed name of Topland’s Gorgeous Royal, was named grand champion 50-mile horse at the national convention of the American Morgan Horse Association held in Portland, Ore. The award was mainly based on total miles covered.

Kyle also was recognized by the association as the reserved (second place) champion extended distance horse in the 75-100 mile ride/drive.

Mr. Tharrett, Water Street, competes with Kyle on trail drives sanctioned by the Eastern Competitive Trail Ride Association. In the competitions, riders are pulled along in carts, officially called roadsters. It was the pair’s fourth year of competition.

The drives are races, with scores based on time and the condition of the competitor’s horse, such as its heartbeat. Vitals are taken at various points along the trails. Racers have staggered starting times of three minutes at the events.

Kyle also was named the Eastern Competitive Trail Ride Association’s Grand Champion Driving Horse. Mr. Tharrett accepted the award at the association’s convention held in February at Saratoga Springs.

Mr. Tharrett said Kyle’s successes far exceeded his expectations for the 2012 competitive year.

“My goals were for Kyle to attempt his first three-day 100-mile drive and do better than the previous year in overall standings,” he said.

He added that Kyle not only completed his first 100-mile three-day course at the “tough” competition last summer sponsored by the Vermont Equine Riding and Driving Association, but placed in reserve to Thors Toy Truck, U.S. Equestrian Federation horse of the year owned by former Olympian Lana DuPont Wright and professionally driven by Robin Groves of Vermont.

“I was surprised he did that well,” Mr. Tharrett said. “Especially, when it was held in August during the hot weather. But he was well conditioned for it.”

Mr. Tharrett, a union carpenter, and Kyle competed last year in Maine, Vermont, New Hampshire and New Jersey to accumulate points in the trail drives, which are sanctioned by the Eastern Competitive Trail Ride Association.

Mr. Tharrett said he’s anxious to begin preparations for this year’s competitions. The first one is April 25 in Vermont.

“It’s hard to keep in shape in winter, especially this winter, due to the weather,” Mr. Tharrett said. “But after they’ve competed a couple of years, they get that muscle base like an athlete. It doesn’t take much to get them back in shape.”

He noted that Kyle, age 13, potentially has at least another decade of competitions ahead.

“Morgans tend to compete longer,” he said. “It’s their stamina and the way they’re built — strong and sturdy. He can go until he’s in his 20s.”

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