The Eastwind Journey

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My Longhorn journey began decades before I was born. It began with my father’s passion. As a kid my grandfather raised and sold stock and rented ponies and horses to service men in the suburbs of Philadelphia during WWII. The GIs would use the horses to go to bars and such. When they’d get too drunk to figure out how to get back to the stable the horses would just wander back, they knew the route home. Growing up, my father and his buddies would each be responsible for an animal, ride it, feed it, and take care of it every day. When that animal sold they were given another often mean horses or pony ready to bite and kick you. My father worked in the auction ring too. At four years old he got his first paying job riding ponies in the sale ring for my grandfather. His first sale, the auctioneer shouted to my grandfather “You want to sell the whole rig?” meaning the pony, saddle, and headstall. My grandfather shouted “Yep!” “The boy too?” the auctioneer yelled. “Yep!” My father laughed like most little boys would and looked around. No one else was laughing. Quickly he went straight faced and found my grandmother up in the crowd. Nervously he shouted “Mom! The son of a bitch is trying to sell me!” The crowd quickly erupted in laughter. He was safe for that day.

He spent working in auction rings riding horses, calling bids, and singing the auctioneers tune. This led him to Longhorns and Eddie Wood. Many know Eddie as the great Longhorn auctioneer. In 1965 my father worked for Eddie as a ringman in Harrisburg, PA for the Appaloosa Horse Club. In 1967 he got his first group of Longhorns for his cutting horse training. At the time he was traveling many weeks a year out west from Pennsylvania buying loads of horses and bringing them east along with Coors Light beer (it didn’t come west of the Mississippi yet, and anyone knowing my father knew he was trading it like gold). Eventually it made sense to just move out to Oklahoma and take the time to work a load together and then ship them back east. In January 1973 that my father moved to Oklahoma. While attending his first sale there was Eddie auctioning off horses. After the sale, my father went down to say hello eight years from their first time working together. Shocked, Eddie looked at him asking “What are you doing out here?” My father told him he just moved to Oklahoma. Eddie got that smile on his face and said “You’re the many I’ve been looking for.” First the next 30 years those two traveled the country doing ever major horse and Longhorn Sale. You wouldn’t have seen one without the other.

Fast forward to September 20th, 1984, the third Thursday in September. The Wichita Wildlife Refuge Longhorn Sale has always been the third Thursday in September. Like every major sale my father was contracted to work it with Eddie. That day happened to be the day I decided to grace my mother with her first child and my father with his third. Like any cowboy would do, my father dropped my mom off at the hospital and headed to Lawton, OK. “What was I suppose to do? I had a contract. Plus, the doctors didn’t need me or what was I paying them for?” Born Raymond Edwin Davidson, named after my Godfather, Eddie Wood. The name Bear was a nick name given that has stuck since day one. At two years old my dad was eating mashed potatoes with two hands and my grandfather said he ate them like a wolf. From then on all he was ever called was Wolfe. When my older brother was born my dad had the option of continuing the William Robert name (he’s like William Robert Davidson IV or something) but much to my grandfather’s surprise he ended it and named my brother Matthew Wolfe, who we lovingly know as Wolfe. When I was born it was simple. He had a Wolfe and needed a Bear. A great name lives forever. There are a million Bills in the world. His thoughts were how many boys named Wolfe were there? And then Bear? It’s probably one of the greatest gifts he’s ever given my brother and me. My older sister is Shelly (Michelle) and baby sister is Sammy (Samantha). Shelly is a big time lawyer for Skadden Arps in Dallas, TX, one of the largest and biggest law firms in the world. Wolfe is a Bird Colonel as a Combat Controller in the United States Air Force stationed in Fort Walton Beach, FL. And Sammy is a Dental Hygienist outside of Philadelphia, PA.

My parents divorced when I was two. My father living in Oklahoma and I was living with my mother in Pennsylvania. But my journey was already set. Since as long as I could physcialy remember I wanted to be a cowboy. We were poor, unbeknownst to me as a child as it didn’t matter, but I’d run around in my mother’s old cowboy boots pretending to be a cowboy. I’d draw (something I still do today) horses and cowboys. I’d day dream. I’d even put a dozen bikes out into a large field and pretend it was my herd of cattle. Though my parents were divorced they still worked together to make sure I got to spend time with both my mother and my father. When I was five years old my mother agreed I should spend the summers with my father in Oklahoma for a month. As a kid growing up this was a dream come true. He’d get me a horse or pony each year. We’d go to horse sales, Longhorn sales, roping and rodeos. It was a utopia for any little boy who wanted to be a cowboy.

Summer 1998 I remember a conversation with my father about Ben Gravett and how he was trying to get my dad to move to Virginia to manage G&G Longhorns. I was excited about it, he’d be a lot closer to me if he did. I met Ben that summer in Bastrop, TX at a sale. That fall my father took the job and moved east.

Over the next four years I’d spend spring break, Christmas break, and the summers in Virginia working under my father. I loved it. I was just drawn to the longhorns. Something about that burned deep within me. I got to do most work farm kids do, fix fence, muck stalls, cube cows, count cows, weed eat, clean trailers, count cows, get Poisoin Ivy, count more cows. I loved every second of it.

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When I graduated high school I was set to go play college football but I needed a summer job. Walking across the stage and grabbing my diploma I jumped in my car and headed to Waxahachie, TX for the Millennium Futurity. There I meant Rob Fenza. Rob just started his longhorn herd 30 minutes from where I grew up. Longhorns were really unheard of in that area. I asked him if he needed some summer help that year and away we went. That summer job turned into a full time job and me living on the farm while going to school full time. I wasn’t sure what I wanted to do but I loved longhorns.

I got hooked up with a great corporate opportunity interning for a big construction company based out of Orange County, CA in 2007. After talking with Rob, he and I thought it would be a great opportunity for me to learn some different aspects of the business world like marketing and systems tracking. For the three years I was with them I was named Manager of the Year for their $27 Million dollar company and quickly moving up the ladder. My plans after my college graduation was to move to Ohio and work for that company. In May 2009 that all changed so quickly.

I got a call from Rob Fenza that he had just come back G&G Longhorns and they needed a ranch manager. My father had been bringing this up to me for months but I’d blow it off. I had a job, a really successful one, a great path, and I was achieving the goals I wanted in the manner in which I wanted. I didn’t want to rock the boat. But when Rob told me I needed to look at it I knew I had to our I’d regret missing a possible opportunity.

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I called Ben, scared to death. Literally the first thing I told him was if he was looking for my father in me he wasn’t getting it. I just didn’t have his experiences. Ben just told me to come down and visit, see if I liked it. A week later in was in Virginia for a meeting. I was at a huge crossroads. I knew I wanted to head to G&G and I knew I was about to disappoint a lot of people in my current company. But I just knew I couldn’t pass this up. In August of 2009 we packed up and headed to Catlett, VA. Has it been an easy ride? Nope. Hasn’t it all been smiles? Nope. Would I change it for anything? Never. I work for a great program who has treated me like family and whom I love dearly. They gave me tremendous opportunity to run G&G and never once questioned my heart. I’m forever grateful. When Ben passed it was like a piece of my heart was gone. Now, almost 2 years later, it still feels the same. I think about him every single day. But I’m lucky. I have Ann too. Everything great about Ben, everything loving about him, and concerning about him (yes he did love people and was concerned about people) resided in Ann’s heart. She’s the heart and soul of G&G and I’m proud to be a part of this Journey.

So join us, all of these programs, as we strive to continue to grow the Longhorn industry by helping programs succeed for long term success. “

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Caption 1- May 1992. The Devon Horse Show, just outside of Philadelphia, PA, is one of the oldest horse shows in the US. It began in 1890 as there was a move of wealth from the city to the rolling hills in the surrounding counties known as the "Main Line". With the Davidson family's involvement in the horse community, it made for a natural place to market Bill Davidson's riding steer Tumbleweed.

Caption 2- June 1990 in Chandler, OK. With my mother and fathering divorcing in 1986 and my mother moving back in Pennsylvania I was excited to get to spend summers with my father and brother in Oklahoma. Eddie and my father's relationship went back decades prior and that influence was so powerful that I was named after Eddie and he became my Godfather. Growing up, watching Eddie and my father work made me want to get into the Longhorn business. While most kids get into it by showing or raising cattle,, my major experiences came by way of auctions. To this day I love the sound of the auctioneer's song, ringmen yelling, and the marketing of cattle.

Caption 3- March 2014 in Grapevine, TX. At the 2014 Legacy there were four awards presented as the Ranch Manager of the Year. I was honored and humbled to be selected as one of the four. This also happens to be the last picture taken of Ben and I before he passed away. Eleven days after this photo he went into the hospital because he wasn't feeling well. Three weeks later he left us. This is also the picture I have next to my front door so I see it every time I step out of the house. There's not a single day that goes by I don't think of him. I'm beyond thankful and owe a tremendous amount of all my successes to the him and Ann for believing in me. I love you both.

Caption 4- May 2011 in Glen Rose, TX. Back in 2000 Ben and my father started up the Millennium Futurity. Many folks didn't believe in it at the time. But it worked so well that now the industry has many futurities all across the country, all copying the success of the Millennium. This particular year Joyce Wood was one of the judges. Joyce has been a great family friend dating back way before I was born.

Caption 5- September 2012 at Hoosier Longhorns. When the boys at Hoosier Longhorns had Delta Lucky Lady chasing the 80" TTT mark at 36 months old I wanted to be there. Dan shipped me out and I spent a few days gathering up cattle with Nathan for their fall roundup. They host a big party and do all their branding by stretching cattle. It was my first real time spending a large amount of time with them. They have been a joy to be around in the Longhorn community and have worked up a great program.

Caption 6- May 1992. The Devon Horse Show, just outside of Philadelphia, PA, is one of the oldest horse shows in the US. It began in 1890 as there was a move of wealth from the city to the rolling hills in the surrounding counties known as the "Main Line". With the Davidson family's involvement in the horse community, it made for a natural place to market Bill Davidson's riding steer Tumbleweed.
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