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very time the snow started to melt and slide off the roof, he would start passage-type steps—and I welcomed the

opportunity! I secretly started to wonder if this horse could go to the Grand Prix.

ship Bergie from Illinois to Florida for George to campaign and sell. Waiting for the winter weather to cooperate with the shipping schedules, Roberta stayed behind and rode Bergie in the indoor arena and was slowly getting attached to him. “Every time the snow started to melt and slide off the roof, he would start passage-type steps—and I welcomed the opportunity! I secretly started to wonder if this horse could go to Grand Prix. Several well-known top trainers had worked with George and Bergie yet they felt that Bergie wasn’t Grand Prix material. But that winter I wasn’t so sure they were right.” The winter storms were consistently uncooperative

and Bergie never made it to Florida. On George’s return he could see how well the two got along, so George began to encourage Roberta to buy him for herself. “The Haneys were asking way more than I could ever afford to pay, so I never even entertained the idea to make an offer,” she reminisces. “Then my mother got wind of the idea and approached me with something that was going to make this all possible.”

Noel, Roberta’s daughter, is very fond of Bergie!

Roberta had an older brother she was very close to.

Together they had ridden horses as children growing up in Illinois. Tragically, in 1996 her brother died at age 43 and Roberta’s mother was the beneficiary of his life insurance policy. Her mother, not being ‘horsey,’ approached Roberta with an offer. “I know your brother would want you to have this money to buy this special horse, since he knew how passionate you are about horses,” Roberta recounts. Roberta was touched, to say the least. Knowing it still wasn’t quite enough money, she approached the Haneys with an offer and a deal was struck.


In 1998, Roberta was now the proud owner of 13-year-old Bergie, a confirmed Prix St. Georges horse. At his age, most of these giant athletes come with their own set of physical issues requiring a certain amount of maintenance, and Bergie was not exempt. In 1997 he had been diagnosed with a touch of navicular, and he was on Isoxsuprine, which he responded well to. She began showing him at Prix St. Georges and Intermediare I and earned scores towards her silver medal. The following year, Roberta and Bergie continued to compete and they were Region 2 reserve champions at I1 and qualified for Dressage at Devon. The Friday before they were leaving for Devon, Bergie turned up lame. His navicular had gotten worse, so they tried injecting his coffin joints. They also modified his shoeing and kept him on Isoxsuprine and he seemed to respond. In the meantime, the Williams family left Tempel Farms

in Illinois and moved to Ohio in 2000. Secretly Roberta set their sights on mastering the Intermediare 2 (I2). This level requires more serious collected work introducing passage and piaffe, a good preparation for Grand Prix. She was certain he could do it regardless of the negative predictions received from top trainers. By the summer of 2000, Roberta reports that while in the saddle she was feeling something in Bergie’s extended trots and was worried about his navicular again, so “I had to get him checked out.” Her gut was right. Dr. Lisa Kidd at Ohio State University diagnosed him with severe navicular, only giving her three options. She could continue riding him and try to maintain his comfort level through painkillers; she could turn him out to pasture where he would always be in some level of discomfort; or they could perform the surgical procedure called a neurectomy where the palmar digital nerves in the back of the hooves are cut. This procedure has its risks but after extensive research, Roberta and Dr. Kidd decided this was the best route for Bergie. The surgery on his feet was successful, however, putting Bergie under anesthesia caused another set

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