A Fred Whitfield Story (Down the Line, Stran Smith)

Not long ago my dad and I built a water gap out on the ranch. Afterwards my dad said, “Well that’s probably the nicest water gap no one will ever see.” As I took a picture with my phone, I said, “Dad, you don’t realize how many people will see this on Facebook.” We worked hard and in a day’s time built something that will last for years to come.

A few days later I was in Omaha, Nebraska, for a speaking engagement during the tour finale. Afterwards I was talking to a couple of businessmen who were not rodeo people, but both had pretty amazing stories.

The first guy happened to be at a rodeo with his small daughter who wanted to enter the Mutton Busting. Neither was dressed in cowboy clothing and were a little out of place. With no prior experience, the dad didn’t have much advice for his daughter. The Tie Down roping immediately followed the Mutton Busting and there was a calf roper who noticed the little girl looking nervous so he struck up a conversation with her. They visited for ten minutes or so and he assured her that he got nervous too. Ironically, she won the Mutton Busting and her dad was surprised to see that calf roper come congratulate her. He stuck around to watch the Tie Down roping. As the announcer introduced their new friend, he was surprised to find that Fred Whitfield was an eight-time world champion.

The other businessman in our little group exclaimed, “I have a Fred Whitfield story too!” A friend of his was roping in Salinas, California, and had made it to the short round. Unfortunately the horse he had been riding was sent to another rodeo before hand.  He was looking for a mount. There aren’t many places as hard on a calf horse as Salinas and repeatedly he was turned down. He then asked Fred Whitfield who replied, “You bet, get on.”

The three biggest athletic professions are football, baseball and basketball. These professional athletes usually have agents and marketing people that seize any opportunity to promote them. If they make an appearance at a hospital or charity, you can bet there are photographers on hand. In both of these stories there was no photo op or agent watching Fred. He was acting on his own, from his heart.

Fred’s competitive drive has been the force behind his more than 3 million dollars in career earnings to make him one of only 3 people to ever accomplish this.  What I want people to realize is that there are many more stories like this , not only about Fred, but most all full time rodeo guys. Many of which never become public knowledge.

Fred Whitfield made quite an impression and created some great memories for those people.  And much like the water gap we built out on the ranch, not many people get to hear about it – but a good job was done just the same.

We still have some spots available at my Tie Down school on November 19th & 20th at my house in Childress. If you are interested, call me at 806-570-8611 or email me at strant@aol.com.

Till next time, God Bless and I’ll see you down the line…

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