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“B

ergie is now a ‘selective’

schoolmaster. He doesn’t like just anyone. He picks and chooses...



competed and had a 65% average, but she just missed qualifying. It was disappointing for Noel, but afterwards I got my horse back,” she remarks. Before all their serious troubles originally began,

Roberta still remembered those “passagey” sessions with Bergie in the Tempel Farms indoor arena. “I decided that if he was feeling good why not shoot for Intermediare 2,” she says. “I found another way to jazz him up to where he offered passage on his own. There was a pasture of babies that would run up to the fence when we rode by, so that’s where I took him. Bergie would get all excited next to the babies and show off his passage—not a real difficult movement for him. This exercise became a stepping stone to bring the passage back to piaffe-type steps.” “Bergie’s piaffe was a bit more complicated.

Fortunately, I had a lot of experience watching them train piaffe with the Lipizzans at Tempel Farms, and so I worked with Bergie as he sorted out his balance. In piaffe, he would cross his legs a bit in front and get confused and worried and rear up. Gratefully with George’s help, it improved over time, but it was never easy. George also

George, Noel, and Bergie pose for the camera.

helped by putting the one tempis on him.” At that point Roberta began thinking that maybe he could actually get to Grand Prix! Even though she struggled to master the canter zigzag—the most difficult Grand Prix movement for the pair—with anticipation, she entered them to compete their first Grand Prix in Delaware, Ohio. She had to go without George and, as luck would have it, the footing was sloppy due to all the rain the area had received. She watched all day as other riders struggled in the wet footing and, in the end, she decided not to scratch. They made it through their debut at Grand Prix earning over 60 percent—and what was interesting was that Bergie really seemed to enjoy it! For him, Roberta says, it was a big party. So at age 19, as Roberta puts it, “Bergie earned his USDF Gold Medal—not me!”

NOT QUITE RETIRED

Bergie and Roberta continued to improve their scores that year, and she later designed her own Grand Prix musical freestyle with him. Every time she was ready to perform her freestyle, her plans changed. On numerous occasions she handed Bergie’s reins over to various young riders who needed an FEI trained horse. In 2006 her daughter Noel practiced the Young Rider tests extensively with Bergie at home, since she was to compete the same test on the Horses Unlimited stallion Pik L in New Jersey. On another occasion, Roberta offered Bergie to a talented student named Jessie Ely who also needed a nicely trained horse for Young Riders. “Bergie is now a ‘selective’ schoolmaster. He doesn’t like just anyone. He picks and chooses,” says Roberta. “I have to be careful who rides him. At age 24 he’s still sound and I teach with him so that different students can feel important things like contact and throughness—all with Bergie’s permission of course!” Officially on paper, Drakensberg is owned by Roberta

Williams. But looking back, Bergie was actually a family horse that George, Roberta and Noel each enjoyed. And when it came to his dressage career, there was no mountain too tall for Bergie.

WT

(Photos of Drakensberg courtesy of Roberta Williams.)

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