Raymond Josey

by Siri Stevens
Raymond Josey

Raymond Josey was raised at Post, Texas, population 4,000. “We farmed, ranched, and had cattle. I started pretty young swinging a rope,” said the cowboy that got his start roping goats. “We’d carry a trailer load of them in a pasture, and turn one out. If you missed, you got out of the way and the next one would try until they got back to the barn. There were six or eight of us on a Sunday afternoon. I was 12 or 14 when dad finally built the arena and we’d rope goats and calves.”

He started competing in calf roping in the American Junior Rodeo Association when he was 17 or 18, one of the first to serve on that Board. He continued in the amateur rodeos. “Out there in west Texas they had a lot of match roping. I’d go watch that and then go home and try what I’d seen. Those guys had that down and I knew I had a lot of work to do.”

R.E., short for Raymond, went to work for an oil company, traveling a 200 mile radius that he could drive in about four hours. “I’d take off work and hurry to the rodeos. I had a true friend, Ed Dye that liked to go and he’d drive me back every night so I could go to work the next day. We drove a Chevy car and pulled a two horse trailer – an old Miley. Ed Sims of Ed Sims Bits and Spurs was also one of my hauling partners.” Josey as he was often called, was winning at the amateur rodeos and decided he could win more rodeoing than at the oil company, so he quit and started rodeoing full time in 1965, traveling all over the country including Calgary and Salinas. “I rodeoed with Ronnie Sewalt during that time. I didn’t lack but a little making the National Finals when I came home. I started showing Quarter horses and selling a few along the way.”

When R.E. first moved to Marshall in East Texas, he started riding outside horses. “I had some of my own that I would train, season, and sell. I started going to a lot of Quarter Horse shows because they were close to home. I won the World in the AQHA Calf Roping in 1970, 72, and 74 on three different horses. The first horse I won on I hauled to rodeos, then when I won the World I sold him for $3,500 to James Harper. That was big money then. I had a pretty good eye for horses and I made good money trading horses.”

Josey liked bulldogging, but his true love was roping calves. He met his partner in life, Martha, at a roping in Hillsboro, Texas. “She was running barrels and I was roping. She won the barrel race and I won the roping that day. I loved her horse, Cebe Reed, she won 52 barrel races in a row on him. I invited her out and we got to going together and I got the horse.”

They got married in 1966 and started their schools and clinics in 1967, while they continued rodeoing. “Our first clinic was in Connecticut and as far as we knew, that was the first clinic ever. We had a bunch of 4-H kids that wanted us to help them and that’s the reason we decided to start our 2 week Calf Roping and Barrel Racing Schools.” Neither of them knew what an impact they were going to have on the world. “We just enjoyed working with kids, people and horses, making dreams come true.” This partnership has inspired more than 150,000 students over the last 46 years. Josey said, “I teach calf roping and individual work on first barrel, what we like to call the ‘money barrel’. I stand out there and talk each rider through their approach to the barrel and how to get that quick, snappy turn leaving the barrel, keeping their hands right and their horse right.”

While Josey stresses the importance of horsemanship, he also teaches students how to prepare for competition and to make the same run at a show that they make at home in the practice pen. “When they come down the alley to make their run, it’s as if a giant vacuum cleaner sucks their brain out. When they run out the alley, it puts their brain back in. They stop their horse and say, ‘What happened?’ Once I can get their nerves settled down and help them focus on their horse, then it’s no problem at all.”

R.E. asks his students to figure out what would settle their nerves. “Maybe they need to jump off the horse, run around him singing the national anthem – everybody will think they are nuts, but once they win a few barrel races, everybody will be jumping off their horse and singing too. Whatever it takes, we help them get it done.”

“I’m just enjoying it.” said Josey. “We still have over 20 clinics a year plus the Josey Reunion and Josey Jr. World. We go to functions like the IFR, WNFR and NBHA World shows and visit with friends. Many of our students have won in High School NIRA, WPRA and PRCA and many have gone on the NFR. We love keeping up with them. ‘When they Win, we Win!’, such as World Champion, Mary Walker, one of our former students.”

R.E. Josey is well respected in both the equine and sports industry and is inducted into the Texas Cowboy Hall of Fame in Fort Worth, Texas, the Texas Rodeo Hall of Fame in Fort Worth, Texas and the Ark-La-Tex Sports Museum in Shreveport, Louisiana.

“We have a drag dummy they rope and jerk over backwards called the Calf Tracker. This gets them where they can ride their horse and learn to handle the rope. Then we go to a practice pen and I’ve got the arena set up where I can run two different ways. The students that are on a horse that doesn’t track the calf, I put them in a narrow pen to help teach the horse and the ones that are on experienced horses go to the bigger pen.”

R.E. and Martha helped start NBHA, the National Barrel Horse Association. “Billy Morris sent his team to Ft. Worth to meet with us and after looking at it, Martha and I both said this will work, so then the NBHA was formed and we’re still on the Board. Through the years, NBHA has grown to be one of the most successful associations in the country.”

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