AHT's June Leader Of The Times
GRK Arabians … Founded On Family
by THERESA CARDAMONE
Gary Kehl was basking in the warm memories of a recent family vacation … and what a trip it was. “When you have three kids and adopt six more, you’ve started a garden,” he explains. “Fifty-two of the 60 of us were there.” Gary and his wife Nancy have also been the foster parents to more than 20 other kids. Together with their successful business and busy home-life, horses of any kind were not even a passing thought. But, when two of the boys—popular high-school football players—came to their father asking for one, he listened.
“The girls were driving them crazy,” Gary relates. “So, we went out on a Sunday afternoon to see a black and white paint horse. The woman agreed to sell him, and I said I had five boys altogether and wanted to also get a companion for the horse.” A 2-year-old chestnut and white full brother of the other paint was standing in the field, but the owner explained that he was only green broke, and she didn’t want the boys to get hurt.
“At the time, my son, Ed, was 16. He later became a defensive end at Brigham Young University and was then drafted by the NFL,” says Gary. “That day, I told him to go chase the horse down in the field and bring him back. He ran out there, chased the horse, put his arm around his neck and led him back to the fence. We ended up buying them both and we started riding. We built a barn together, and just had a blast riding in the mountains.”
Until the registration papers arrived, Gary had no idea he had just purchased two Half-Arabians (one of them, Rowdy, is now 33 years old and is still the “kingpin” of the farm). “It just turned out that the sire of both geldings was a Canadian national champion in Park,” Gary cites. Through the vagaries of fate and due to a father’s ability to understand and support his children’s needs, GRK Arabians was born.
Fast-forward about 30 years to present day, and the seeds sown in that field have blossomed into the next generation of horse lovers for the family. Ed’s daughter Chloe Kehl—now only 13—has ridden homebred Half-Arabian mare Billie The Kid GRK (Sundance Kid V x Just To Fool You APHA) to Canadian national championships in Walk/Trot 10 & Under (2015), and Western Pleasure JTR 18 & Under (2017), as well as a Canadian national reserve championship in JOTR (2017). Billie is named for Billie Heseltine, the longtime horsewoman who foaled her out. At the prestigious 2018 Scottsdale Show, Billie and Chloe were the unanimous choice for both Champion Western Pleasure JTR andJOTR 18 & Under!
Chloe’s cousin, McKienna Kehl, is also 13 and winning at the highest level. Astride Lady Justify GRK (Justify x Fortessa MCF), McKienna was the 2018 Scottsdale Reserve Champion Hunter Pleasure JOTR 18 & Under and the 2017 Scottsdale Reserve Champion Hunter Pleasure JTR Select. The pair has also earned four Canadian National top ten titles in the hunter pleasure division, while Lady Justify has an additional Canadian top ten in halter.
The family’s love for horses has flourished over the decades and will continue to inspire and nurture the future plans for GRK Arabians in years to come. Nothing could please Gary more. “Now the granddaughters are doing it, and I have other ones coming up who want to ride,” he says with satisfaction. “We’re having a blast!”