Bill Jr has been around horses since he can remember. His father was always into buying, selling, and training horses. Bill rode a horse long before he rode a bike!
Reining is his sport of choice and its popularity as an equestrian sport has grown tenfold since he was young. Reining is a western riding competition where the rider guides the horse through a precise pattern of circles, spins, and stops. It requires the horse to be responsive and in tune with its rider, whose aids should not be easily seen. The horse should be willingly guided or controlled with little or no apparent resistance.
Dating back to the earliest Spanish settlers in what today is Mexico and the Southwestern United States, including Texas and California, ranchers needed to manage cattle from horseback. Cattle were moved, branded, doctored, sorted, and herded, often on open range without the benefit of fences, barns, or other means of holding the animals. A good cowboy needed a quick and nimble horse, one that could change directions quickly, stop on a dime, and sprint after a cow. The horse needed to be controlled mostly by legs and weight, ridden with one hand and a light touch on the reins, so that the cowboy’s attention could be on the tasks at hand. Informal demonstrations amongst the ranch cowboys of their horses skills evolved into the sport of reining.
Bill is a true cowboy, he loves everything horse related from working cow horses to the trail riding, set up camp, and ride out when the sun comes up. He was born with a gift with understanding horses and horsemanship. From the time he was 10 years old and showing at local horse shows people could see his gift and would pay him $1.00 to ride their horses around. That was pretty good money to a 10 year old ( he would have done it for free)!
Bill started to become a real competitor in reining in 1986. As a youth showman he was the State Youth Reining Champion on a horse called “Robert Gun”. After winning the State he went on to show “Robert Gun” in Tulsa Oklahoma. Bill Jr won the first saddle ever presented to a youth by the NRHA on “Robert Gun”.
One of Bill’s more sentimental memories is of a horse named “Gay Bars Lad”. According to Bill this horse had all the talent but could never catch a break in the showpen. His 3 year old year he was on track to show in Oklahoma at the NRHA Futurity and sustained an injury that kept him from being shown. Gay Bars Lad stood at stud for a few years before coming to Michigan and being put in training and shown by Bill. He was shown in the MRHA circuit a few times and held his own but was remembered by Bill as being a little “clumsy”. Bill then went on to show Gay Bars Lad at the world show in 2010. Bill’s approach was to let him take it easy in the warm up and not put in any pressure on him. When he went in the showpen it was all out and that horse performed like he never had before. Bill remembers the owner telling him that she covered her eyes the entire time after she saw Gay Bars Lad running so fast, she was so afraid he was going to trip! Bill won the world championship and the horse finally caught his break and became a World Champion in reining!!
Imagine growing up in a working barn watching your father train horses and give lessons from the time you could walk. Spending weekend after weekend at horse shows watching, learning and doing. Horses were and still are, his life. Watching Bill Jr. work with a horse is an amazing thing, he can communicate with them through his body language and make it look so effortless and so natural. He gains their respect within minutes of being in their presence.