Meet “Cowboy Bill”

rodeo-bill**Note-  Bill was so valued by us that I decided to keep his story on this website, even though he is retired from training for us and we moved to Oklahoma after selling Prairie Gem in 2022.

Bill O’Malley  Although raised in Omaha, I always had a fascination with horses and country life. Spending time at a cousin’s farm in Exeter, NE, as a child, brings back fond memories, which probably planted the seed to lead me to rodeo and horse training. I started riding saddle broncs, barebacks, and bulls directly out of high school, but quickly concentrated on the horse riding events at 19. I moved to Valentine, NE, to work on a cattle ranch. On the ranch, I learned quickly the basics of riding and how to “cowboy a horse”. I really learned to appreciate the working cow horse. After a couple of years, I moved to Texas, where I could rodeo year round. I met friends in Texas who first introduced me to Arabians. Being around mostly Quarter horses, I was amazed at the dedication and efforts Arabian owners put into these “show” horses.

I learned some basic ground work and round pen techniques, while in Texas, not realizing how all these different styles of training would come into play, later in my life. After 2 years in Texas, I missed the Midwest and moved back to Omaha, to be around family.

Working in Omaha, and rodeoing on weekends and whenever possible, I continued to work people’s problem horses whenever I was needed. I continued to read and watch tapes and learn as much as I could from other trainers, on how to handle different problems, large and small. I began working at a small horse farm in Council Bluffs, IA, where I learned the gentle training techniques. I loved working with the young horses, watching them learn and learning from them, how to handle different problems. The gentle breaking and bonding techniques that I learned have served me well along with the old tried and true “cowboy” ways. I am always amazed at the results and relationships you have with a firm hand but gentle technique, so the horse wants to do what you ask him.

The last few years working at Prairie Gem Stables have probably been the most rewarding, educational and challenging of my years associated with horse training. I start working with the Arabians and Half-Arabians when they are hours old, continuing with gentle techniques on the ground until they reach the age of 2 1/2. Desensitizing them with everything that I can find that might cause them to feel fear, I teach them to trust humans and to become confident in every situation they encounter.

One of my greatest triumphs is taking a 6 year old purebred Arabian mare, that no trainer wanted to take the risk with, because she was so “crazy”. When she came to Prairie Gem, everyone thought Linda and I were crazy, too, to put our efforts into trying to turn this horse’s view of the world around. I spent lots of time getting the trust built, and finally bringing her out of the paddock. That first trip to the training arena, about 200 feet distance took about 2 hours. Everyone cleared out of the area as the horse was known to be very explosive. Gradually the trust came, and we worked together until she became a youth’s show horse, in western pleasure. And she was beautiful. She would take her new owner out on the trails and became one of the favorite horses of the barn.

Applying the different training practices to the young Arabians, whether it be Pat Parelli or John Lyons’ ideas, or things that I have learned through experiences of my own, and then watching them perform to their potential, is extremely rewarding. Not to mention seeing the faces of the owners and young riders as they reach their goals.