Callie Jo Friedt and Paycos Bill
He wasn't as famous as Secretariat or Seabiscuit or Man 'o War, but he was quite well-known in the world of mounted competitions — a seven-time state champion, a two-time national champion, a reserve world champion.
Now, he's gone at the age of just 11. It was like the death of a family member.
Paycos Bill, a renowned equine racer from rural Decatur, died recently, perhaps from aneurysm, while being ridden by Callie Jo Friedt, his best friend, constant rider, owner, and trainer.
Callie Jo suffered a concussion and some deep bruises when Bill went down — dead, apparently, on the spot.
"A part of her died that night," said her father, Joe Friedt. "As she realized her loved one was gone, she [and others] cried.
Callie Jo is a senior at Bellmont High School and has been a leading member of the Adams County 4-H Horse and Pony Club for years as one of its best riders, most often aboard Paycos Bill.
Joe Friedt writes in his impassioned memorial to Bill and tribute to Callie Jo, "Way too soon, he is gone. He should have competed into his twenties. Callie Jo was keeping him in tune for the Quarter Horse Congress, the largest quarter horse show in the world, which Bill and Callie Jo won last year."
Callie Jo bought Bill with her money and, says her father, "she trained him and he trained her. She had a big dream for that horse. Others would say he is too small and does not have a fancy family history of winners, but Callie Jo did not care. Always a little stubborn, she was going to make it. Bill was doing so well at turning barrels and poles that they seemed to gel together."
Friedt said his daughter worked extremely hard for 18 months to get Bill to speed up and, after that trying time, she even tried to sell him or give him away, but "there were no takers."
At that point, Friedt and his wife bought a faster horse for their daughter and that animal and Bill began competing against each other. "Within three weeks," says Friedt, "that slow horse, Bill, would outrun the fast one and could turn on a dime."
The years passed and the team of Callie Jo and Bill kept winning and winning: state titles, the Quarter Horse Congress, national polebending title twice, and a reserve world championship.
Says Friedt, "Almost no one in the country could beat her in polebending and she could beat most of the open-barrel horses she competed against. It did not matter if it was adult or youth, pro or amateur.
"They became a well-known pair: the girl with the horse that wore ribbons [in his hair]. They loved to compete. Callie Jo would say Bill would get mad if he didn't get to go to shows regularly. Others would say Bill ran so fast because he was embarrassed to be a boy with ribbons in his hair."
A few weeks ago, Friedt reports, Callie Jo was offered 100 times as much as she paid for him and she would not take the money. "She said he was part of her. She said she couldn't fall off because they were part of each other," the father writes.
He goes on to state that, for Callie Joe, "her life, friends, and boyfriends revolved around horse shows."
With Bill gone, says Friedt, the family has received many condolences from people famous in that business and "the irony is that most of [Callie Jo's] horse friends offering their respects are also the ones texting each other" to say they're glad to not have to face Callie and Bill again.