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Posse Legends

Fred Davies and Phil Livingston

The Posse membership includes ranchers, cowboys, horsemen, but only two Professional Rodeo Cowboys (PRCA) that competed and traveled together for many years. Major rodeos included Cheyenne, Wyoming – Pendleton, Oregon – Prescott, Arizona – Cow Palace, San Francisco, California – Madison Square Garden, New York City – Fort Worth Stock Show & Rodeo, and many more. Phil added to his legacy writing several books, articles, drawings, advertising, covers. and horse magazine editor.

It was my privilege to ride with these cowboys at Posse events. Recall riding with them at an all night Posse campout south of Mineral Wells crossing the Brazos River. I loved to sit with them and hear their rodeo stories. I cherish their friendship. It was my privilege to lead a horse and empty saddle at our rodeo memorial for Fred (Freddie).
–Bill Ward

Freddie Davies

They met accidentally in late 1980’s in a two bit saddle shop in Hudson Oaks. Neither looked cowboy, Freddie wearing athletic shorts & T shirt, Phil wearing civvies from a business trip in Fort Worth. Cowboys can recognize a cowboy regardless of camouflage. They began comparing notes about people they knew and places they had rodeoed back in the early 60’s. They had been in the same arenas in southern California at the same time and didn’t know it. Neither had a cowboy background, Freddie was from New Jersey, a son of a printing press foreman, Phil an Army brat raised all over the world, but both had the cowboy bug.

Living in the East limited Freddie’s exposure to cowboys, but as a standout athlete in football and baseball, he received a football scholarship to the University of Arizona. A broken leg put an end to that and he enlisted in the Marine Corps. Stationed in Camp Pendleton in Southern California, he began to compete in a few open rodeos as a bull rider, but that was not his event. It wasn’t until he returned East as a civilian that he started as a timed event cowboy.Veteran rodeo hands like Ted Fina, Jack Meli and Buddy Braumwell coached him in calf roping and steer wrestling. Before long he was entering and winning at PRCA rodeos from Main to Florida, One contest he especially remembered was the Presidential Rodeo put on for Ronald Regan. (He would have won the steer wrestling but he broke the barrier).

In the early 1970’s he moved to Texas and continued to rodeo – primarily as a steer wrestler. Among other rodeos which he won was the Weatherford contest.

I was luckier, horse crazy from the start. I got my first one at twelve. started roping calves two years later and was lucky enough to be helped by an experienced roper. By the time I was 16, I was entering the little open rodeos in the area. A move to Texas and college in 1952 exposed me to lots of roping and good ropers – the Fort Worth area was a hot bed of tough hands. Ten years in southern California introduced me to dally team roping – an event which I loved. In 1967 I was offered a job with Tex Tan Western Leather Co  at Yoakum and moved to south Texas. There was lots of open rodeos and jackpots in the area and I didn’t have to travel far from home. In 1978 I was transferred to the Fort Worth area, settled in Weatherford and continued to team rope.

The stage was set for Freddie and I to meet. Freddie had an arena and steers so he invited me over to rope. That got to be a regular thing and we started going to jackpots together (We’d both quit rodeoing by then). From there things progressed to helping each other and calling when one of us needed something or just wanted company.

Remember one incident. I lived out off the Azle highway and Freddie in Hudson Oaks – maybe five miles apart. He came over one night to visit. We told stories, looked at rodeo pictures and “hoisted a few.” Headed home, Ole Fred decided that it might be a good idea to duck around the lake and stay off the highway. Some how, he missed one of the turns and drove into the lake – up to the floor boards. I was later told that he by was sitting in his wife’s car, wondering how the hell he as gong to get out. A man in a pickup pulled up and hollered if he needed a tow. The good samaritan pulled him out. No, he didn’t tell Mary about it.

As I mentioned, we traveled together, had lots of laughs, settled all the world’s political problems and had no arguments – other than where we were we going to eat. One thing though – since he hauled cars for a living he considered himself to be an expert on how to back a trailer. On one of our first trips – with my rig – I pulled in, spotted a parking place and started to back in. He immediately started telling me how to do it. I stuck the truck in neutral, go out and told him to do it. From then on I’d stop, spot a parking place and let him do the job. That way, I didn’t have to put up with his coaching.

At that time I was writing a lot and launched a lot of ideas of Freddie. He was always very forthright in what he thought and improved a lot of rough drafts, especially on the “War Horse” book. One article, however, back-fired on him. I’d gone with him to Cameron to pick up a roan three-year-old (Chance) that had four or five rides on him. A couple of days later, I heard the following story. He got the colt home, saddled him up, and led him down to the arena. He swung aboard, the colt bogged his head and ole Fred hit the ground without ever getting his right foot in the stirrup. He dug himself out of the dirt, caught the colt, turned him around a couple of times and started to climb on again. This time he never got his leg across the saddle. To hell with it! Roany got tied up and Fred headed to the house to rest his battered body. He was laying on the couch, wondering what he was going to do – he was too old to be riding broncs. Then his daughter and son-in-law walked in. An idea flashed and Freddie said, “Mike, how would you like to ride. Now Mike is a nice kid, but a cowboy he ain’t. No matter. The colt had to be ridden and submitted to the saddle how he couldn’t buck. After saddling his old horse, he said, “get on”. The young man pretended that he didn’t need to be led around. “Shut up and get on,” came from his father-in-law. After saddling him,  Mike got on and the pair moved out, going fast enough that the colt didn’t get a chance to pitch. They circled the arena at a trot until both horses were dripping with sweat. Fred finally reached down and unengaged the halter rope to turn Mike and the colt loose. Roany walked off with never a bobble and never tried to buck again.

After hearing the story he said, “That’s a nice colt, I needed to get him going good and it was the only thing I could think of. Besides, I can get a son-in-law on any corner.”

That forward several months. I’d written the incident up and sold it to the Dally Times. Seems like Fred’s wife saw the magazine before he did and met him at the door. – hot – when he came in from work. When he called me that night he wasn’t sure if he was going to have to stay at my house until things cooled off.

Roany made a good horse and Fred roped off of him for years. Lots of rides together on the McDavid, Saunders and Todd ranches. Ed Roberts (long time Executive Secretary of the APHA often rode with us. Freddie and Ed never rode anything that would really get out and walk, liked to visit rather than cover country, and I always rode a walkin’ foal. That meant that I’d out distanced them and by the time they reached a gate I’d be waiting for them. Lots of good times.

Oh yeah, once Freddie discovered that I did leather work he’d save his busted equipment for me to fix. At first, he’d ask for me to do the job, but it quickly turned into him just giving it to me. He handed me a torn up breast collar once and I said it wasn’t worth patching. “OK,” Freddie replied, build me a new one,” I did – and even full stamped it. It wasn’t just a one-way deal. His wife, Mary, was one hell of an Italian cook. Every Christmas morning Freddie would show up with a large dish of Lasagne, which she had made – several kinds of cheese and sausage, big, spicy meatballs, terrific sauce – good grazin’ ! To hell with turkey and dressing.

We took our roping seriously – but had fun doing it. Those senior events were great even if you couldn’t win much. Only problem was the same bunch of men who had beaten you for twenty five years were still doing it. Still, it was a chance to see lots of old friends. Remember our roping at Abilene. We came back high team in the short round – with really nice buckles and a chunk of money up for grabs. Freddie roped the horns right across the line – and waved the loop off. He moaned and grounded about that stunt from the time we left Abilene. By the time we got to Ranger I’d had enough and told him that I would have probably have missed the heels. Freddie looked at me and said, “dammit – at least you should have had the chance to miss!”.

We both belonged to a trail riding group of men from all over the state – the Los Amigos. We traveled to, and rode at, the Palo Duro Canyon, Fort Davis and Fort Hood. A great group of men, terrific country to ride in and fine food. We also made the run to Fort Robinson Nebraska and rode on the old cavalry post there.

We also took a load of roping steers back to New Jersey for a friend of his. Stopped on the way back at Fort Royal, Virginia (old Remount Depot) where I did some “on site research” for the War Horse book. And, a friend of his from back East flew down and bought a couple of horses. He asked Fred to haul ’em back to New York state and I went along for the ride.

We were good at picking on each other and some folks didn’t understand the relationship. We were roping at my place one day when he turned a steer for me. The steer went down right in front of my horse tripped and we turned over. I landed on the other side of the steer flat on my back and with the horse upside down and a couple of feet away. Luckily, he rolled the other way.

When I finally got my wind back and on my feet – surrounded by all the other ropers – Freddie reined and said, “Let’s run another out. I’ve got the range now and I can put him on top of you. That’ll finish the job.”

A couple of people thought that he was serious. That really got him going and he gave a winning performance.

Sometime in the early 90’s a friend from West Texas called and asked if I wanted to ride through the fall gather. He ranched about 250 sections north of Van Horn. Freddie and I jumped at the chance to spend several days out there, loaded our horses, gear and bedrolls headed West.

The first morning George (owner) warned us about some black calves on the place. “Leave ’em alone. They don’t drive, will come to meet ya’ and damn sure have the horns to hurt you. “We just gather the calves after the cows kick ’em off.”

George dropped the riders off in a circle and Freddie and I split.

Ol’ Fred was movin’ along on his bay horse when he tops a little hill and spots three high horned black cows with their calves. As he told me later, he rode towards them and popped a hand on his chaps – figgerin’ that they’d move away. Didn’t work that way. They were coming to meet him at a trot and shaking their horns.

Remembering what George had said, he spun ol’ Bay around to retreat. When he looked over his shoulder to see that the cows had picked up speed and and were gaining. He stuck in the spurs for maximum speed – but the cows were keepin’ up. The horse is givin’ his all – Fred looks down and they’re crossing a prairie dog town. All he can do is hope that his mount doesn’t stick a leg in a dog hole.

They made it through and covered some more ground before he checks to see if he was still being chased. The cows had run their bluff and pulled up.

He rode a little further and then notices me sittin’ up on a hill about a quarter of a mile away. When he rode up he started giving me hell about not coming to his rescue.

My answer was, “I saw ’em before you did and tried to move ’em. Why the hell do you think I’m here?”

Lots of memories and here’s one last one. We’d quit contesting but, with Boots Schroeder, would get together at my place to break-a-way rope my cattle. Then we’d sit in the shade, drink a cold beer and tell stories.

Freddie had been in the hospital a time or three and his balance on a horse wasn’t too good anymore. Boots and I were afraid that he’d fall off and get hurt. Figuring that we needed to call a halt before anything happened, I phoned his wife and explained the situation. I was hoping for support. Instead – “Don’t run him off! It’s the only thing he has to look forward to. He’d rather die in that arena with you two.”

I told the steers rather than take any more chances and we hung up our ropes.

Twenty some years together and be both felt that we were very lucky. The only time that I ever felt  that I let him down was at the very end. He’d asked me to lead a horse for him at the annual rodeo once he was gone and I couldn’t. My balance was shot by that time. Bill Ward did it and I regret that I wasn’t with Fred one last time.

Fred Davies – one hell of a cowboy, traveling partner and one of the best friends I ever had.

–Phil Livingston

Phil Livingston

Author of Several Books:

Team Roping – Western Horsemen.

Legend II – Western Horsemen.

War Horse – History of U.S. Remount Service.

Goin’ Down the Road – Collection of short cowboy stories.

The First 40 Years – The Parker County Sheriff’s Posse.

The Driftwood Legacy – Driftwood strain

Texas Troubles – the Sutton – Taylor Freed.

50 Year History of the Yoakum Rotary Club.

Sell Yourself Successful – Ghosted for Cliff Long.

From the Vaqueros to the Arena – History of team roping-serialized in the Score.

Cavalcade of Saddles – 500 years of western saddles-illustrated.

History of Reins, Chaps, Bits, etc. – Hosted for Dennis Moreland’s web site.

50 Year History of TexTan Western Leather Co – Press hit for 50th anniversary.

History of American Paint Horse Assn. – For their 25th anniversary.

Forward to Randy Wittes “Pioneer Horse Breeders”

The China Year

Horse Editor Western Livestock Journal

Editor Paint Horse Journal

Plus many more items

Several Freelance Advertising Articles:

200-300 Freelance Articles in various magazines on horses, Stud Bios, People, Events, etc., not sure how many.

Advertising – catalogs, mailers, etc.

TexTan Advertising Manager.

TexTan Western Leather Co.

TexTan Kenway (Canada).

Bona Allen.

Tandy Brands.

Western World – chain of western stories.

Buckheimer, Ryons, Tandy Brands annual Report.

M.L. Leddy.

Pereival Tours – international travel agency,

8 major catalogs.

Multi-Craft Horseshoes.

Cowboy Tack – Dennis Moreland.

Seminole Bit and Spurs.

Some Political B.S.

Monthly Column “Going Down the Road” for three years – Dally Times, Performance Horse, others.

COVERS: Western Livestock Journal, Longhorn Scene.

PCSP Program.

Chino(Calif) Rodeo Program.

Rodeo Program(event drawings), Texas Highways.

Cartoons that appeared in Western Horsemen, Rodeo Sports News, etc., plus PCSP News Letter, “Who have hit the Dirt”.