As my friends know, I am a city girl. One of the charming benefits of living in the ranching community of Hempstead the last 4 years has been to learn rural living from my cousin Sharon McAmis and from the people I interviewed for the 18 months I wrote for the local News-Citizen. A favorite subject was Sharon’s friend, horse trainer Bill Robertson, who once was a member of the U. S. Olympic Equestrian Team.
Sharon ran her Dad’s Hempstead ranch for a time, helping to breed and train quarter horses and thoroughbreds. She had the painful job of placing most of the horses after the ranch was sold. One of her success stories was in persuading her neighbor Bill Robertson to train up a wild and skittish gelding nicknamed Penti. (See my FB repost last Friday for more details).
I met Bill during my writing stint locally. At his Hempstead ranch he specializes in raising and training polo ponies and jumpers, but that was just a small part of his story. As a young man in Indiana, he enrolled in the Culver Military Academy and joined their Calvary division. As a member of the Black Horse Troop, he paraded at important events like the Eisenhower inauguration in 1956.
Bill went on to compete on the school’s polo team and the jumping team, competing against other colleges and countries. A fortuitous meeting with two Olympic Gold Medalists in Show Jumping – Billy Steinkraus and George Morris – eventually led to Bill’s own foray into Olympic competition.
Bill’s final step preparing him as a horse trainer came in 1991 when he met Ray Hunt, one of the best of the “horse whisperers,” where he said he came to understand the “DNA” of a horse – critical to training even the wildest critter like Sharon’s horse Penti.
— Jonnie Martin