Dressage Olympian Maj. Robert Borg Dies

Apr 18, 2005 - 10:00 PM

Maj. Robert Borg, of Oxford, Mich., who represented the United States in dressage at three Olympic Games and trained scores of horses and riders at his farm in Oxford, Mich., died on April 5. He was 91.

Maj. Borg began his life of horsemanship by studying native Americans, but his interest in dressage began when he saw Col. Hiram Tuttle ride the famous American Lady in the 1932 Los Angeles Olympics. Years later, Col. Tuttle recommended that Maj. Borg join the U.S. Cavalry, and in 1943 he reported to Ft. Riley (Kan.) to be an instructor of advanced equitation.

Consequently, in 1948 he both trained the U.S. Olympic dressage and three-day teams and rode Klingsor, a horse acquisitioned during the post-World War II occupation of Germany, to fourth place individually. The dressage team earned the silver medal (still the best medal ever earned by a U.S. Olympic dressage team), while the three-day team won the gold.

Maj. Borg continued as the coach of both teams when the U.S. Equestrian Team was formed in 1952, and he rode Bill Biddle to 11th in Helsinki as the team placed sixth. In 1956 he and bill Biddle finished 17th. His student, Walter Staley, won the three-day gold medal at the 1955 Pan Am Games, where Maj. Borg and Bill Biddle claimed the individual silver medal in dressage.

Maj. Borg was paralyzed in 1959 when a horse fell on him, but his indomitable will carried him through the next 45 years. He continued to train horses and riders will into his 80s. He even fashioned a turntable to an old truck that allowed him to train horses in hand. He trained many horses in the high-school movements this way.

In 1999 the American Horse Shows Association honored his achievements and contributions with a Pegasus Medal of Honor, and in 2003 he was inducted into the Midwest Dressage Association

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