Biography - Randy L Davisson


Dear Horse Enthusiast:

My name is Randy L Davisson and I love horses, all kinds of horses from ponies to draft horses and every kind in between. My dad got me my first pony when I was 8 years old. My dad may have marked me for horses. My Mom and Dad got married in 1931. My dad worked on the railroad in Michigan. His railroad and other railroads would honor passes to ride passenger trains. They went to Florida for their honeymoon and went to a racetrack. There was a horse racing named Randy Lee, my dad said that sounds racy (I think that meant cool in those days). If we ever have a son, we'll name him Randy Lee, see what I mean about marking. I've always been absolutely fascinated by horses. I enjoy watching them and all aspects of them. I had quite a few horses in my early teen years. I showed one in 4-H, a red roan spot named sugar. I did ok, not great, but ok.

The first appaloosa I ever saw was at the 4-H fair in Pontiac, Michigan in the early 50's. As I remember he was a blue roan over his head and shoulders with a very large blanket with large black spots. Now that was around 50 years ago and yet I can see him in my mind's eye today. He must have made quite an impression, wouldn't you agree? About the only time I didn't have a horse were those crazy teen years between 16 and 19 when my main interest was football (starting quarter back co-captain) basketball (first string guard) girls----(Mary Ellen-in-particular) cars ('49 mercury convertible), and not necessarily in that order. I didn't play baseball or run track. It was my job to get crop ground ready for spring planting. I worked nights and weekends to keep the Mercury on the road. Mary Ellen and I graduated in June 1956 and were married that July. We lived near several hundred acres of state land in Michigan. I was looking for a hobby. Within a year I bought a grade quarter horse mare named Gypsy. In 1960 our insurance man Thor , who was a Morgan horseman, said Appaloosa's were getting popular and thought Gypsy would cross really well with one. Mr. Young had bought an appaloosa from Oklahoma named Desert Dude. In 1961 Gypsy had a blanket hip filly. We named her Desert Doll. I got bit by the bug, it wasn't long until we were in the appaloosa business on a small family basis. By 1963 we had 5 daughters. When the girls were small, they showed POA's, some graduated to Appaloosas. We all looked forward each spring when the foals would be born. The years flew by as the girls grew up, off to college, got married, and so on. In 1994 I still had 2 appaloosas left. The horses were getting old so I sold them to a family who wanted well-trained, good, and gentle horses. I was riding racking horses from 1994 to 2000.

In response to a request from Ms Rice, because we were running out of time to make the November issue of the Appaloosa Magazine, the following is a letter sent to Diane Rice, associate editor of The Appaloosa Journal.

Dear Diane:
Writing this letter has been difficult for me to do from the standpoint of what do I include and what do I leave out, for those reasons I'll keep this letter short and list a fact sheet. That way you can pick the facts you feel are most pertinent. Three items I do want in your article is the kindness shown to me by four riders I met on the Chief Joseph Trail Ride.

In 2000, after the Chief Joseph, I stopped by Al Maxey's ranch in Fort Collins, Colorado. He and his wife Doris made me feel right at home. Al and I hauled our horses to a park on Horse Tooth Mountain and rode the trails. Al is a very interesting person, a ranger retired from the National Forestry Division, He is very knowledgeable about the history of Chief Joseph and the Nez Perce in particular and the history of the west in general. Al also stabled Eli in 2001 when I was passing through.

In 2002 we stopped by Kay and Paul Phelps in Illinois, they both ride the Chief Joseph. They have an excellent breeding program. We spent a weekend with them, they made Eli comfortable in a large outdoor paddock. They are lots of fun to know and be with.

In 2003 my wife, Mary Ellen, and I were planning our trip through Canada to do the remaining provinces. We heard there was a lady on the Chief Joseph Trail Ride that lives in Canada, her name is Sharon MacDougall, and lives in New Glasgow, Nova Scotia. I can't begin to tell you how helpful she was. Sharon helped us in what routes to take, things to see, and making arrangements for the Ferry from Nova Scotia to Newfoundland. Sharon and her husband Wayne made us feel very comfortable. We stayed at their farm on our way to Newfoundland and on our way back. Appaloosa people helping appaloosa people. All three families are the kind of folks you would like to have for next door neighbors.

Oh and one other thing please mention our ad under personals in the classified section of: The November issue of the Appaloosa Journal (see end of letter)

Fact Sheet

1999 My brother Wayne from Washington State and I decided to do the Chief Joseph Ride in 2000, but we both had to find appaloosa horses to qualify for the ride.

2000 January: I bought a new 2000 Dodge 3500 series to go to the Chief Joseph Trail Ride.

2000 March: I found an Appaloosa horse in Alabama. The farmers were planting cotton in the area. When I asked the man selling the horse, what is his name, he said they called him Eli. He said he took him in trade from another horse trader who bought him from a family in Mississippi. That family became interested in 4 wheelers and sold him. There were no registered papers with him, I had to hardship register him. I had all these romantic and or glamorous names in mind if I had to name the horse I found. When the man I bought him from said his name was Eli I remembered I learned in the 4th or 5th grade a story about Eli Whitney, the inventor of the Cotton Gin, and that's how he got the name Eli Whitney - #589336. It actually turned out to be a very commercial name, one people remember. Everyone loves Eli.

2000 JUNE: My 15 year old grandson Derrick Whitaker rode Eli across Michigan from Lake Huron to Lake Michigan -230 miles. I rode another horse with him.

2001 JULY: We, (Eli and I) left for the Chief Joseph Trail Ride from my ranch in Michigan. Just as a lark I rode in each state as we passed through. Eau Claire, WI; Fergus Falls, MN; Madora, ND; Custer National Forest near Buffalo, SD. That year the Chief Joseph rode from MT down into WY. After the ride I followed my brother Wayne and Lois Ann, his wife to their home in Washington (she was also our rig driver on the Chief Joseph). We were headed for their home in Battleground, Washington. Wayne and I rode in the mountains near Coeur D'Alene, Idaho. I followed them to WA, where we rode on Mt. St. Helen and on the Pacific Ocean beach near Manzanita, OR. After our ride, Wayne and Lois Ann left for home and Eli and I headed for Northern CA and the redwoods. We headed south along the ocean on hwy 101. I can't remember a time in my life when I felt so alone and so empty the feeling lasted the rest of the afternoon and then I thought I'm not alone I have my faith, I have Eli with me, and the Optimist Creed, which I had memorized while president of the local optimist club (copy enclosed). It was a long night, we stayed at a county fair ground. Eli & I left about 6 a.m. the next morning. At 8 a.m. while going through Winchester Bay OR, I pulled into an overlook high above the sea for breakfast. The scenery was spectacular from those rock bluffs. Eli loves to look at things, he's very aware of the things around him. Eli was on the other side of the trailer so I got him out to see the view. He had the look of eagles in his eyes. We looked off to the southwest toward Hawaii. It may have been at that point that I decided to ride in all 50 states, I'm not sure exactly when I made that decision. We got to the redwoods that afternoon, it was Sunday. I stopped at a country store where I saw a truck and horse trailer. I went into the store and asked who the rig belonged to. A lady answered. I asked about riding in the redwoods. She said it was too bad I wasn't there earlier. About 40 riders had a trail ride that day. She said follow me. I'll show you where the trailhead is. We were not far from Crescent City, CA. I thanked her and found a place to stay for the night. I'm often asked of all my rides, which one was most memorable. Certainly the last day of the 2000 Chief Joseph was right up there, however, riding in the redwoods is the one most remembered. Just Eli and I among the silent giants, it was an absolutely inspiring experience. I have a picture of Eli and I riding through a redwood tree.

Diane, from here on I'll try to stick to facts and figures. I just wanted to give you a feel for some of the experiences I've had. The next states on my way home that I rode in were NV, UT, CO, NE, IA, IN. I went through IL. Then back home in MI. We were on the road for 31 days.

2000 NOVEMBER: My wife Mary Ellen, Eli and I headed west on I 40 from TN. I rode in the following states AR, OK, TX, NM, AZ, LA, MS. We had thanksgiving dinner in a truck stop restaurant near Albuquerque, NM.

2002 APRIL: FL, GA, SC, NC, TN and KY

2001 JUNE: Derrick and I rode across Michigan again, this time I rode Eli another 230 miles.

2001 JULY: Did the Chief Joseph Trail Ride. After the ride on the way home, I rode in KS and MO

2002 April I left my home in MI to ride in 6 states PA, MD, VA, WV, OH, and IL. Mary Ellen decided to stay home, so it was just Eli and I. When Mary Ellen and I graduated from high school in 1956 one of the places we visited on our senior trip was Gettysburg, PA. So when we did PA, that's where I wanted to ride. It was Gettysburg that I had a strange and baffling experience with Eli. PA was our 34th state. By this time I had ridden Eli several 100 miles, so I thought I knew him pretty well, however, I was not prepared for his behavior that day. We stayed at Artillery Ridge Camping Resort. From there you can ride your horse to the Battlefield. The trail was rolling and wooded along the way. Along the trail were monuments to the different regiments or statues of soldiers or generals, some very large. Everything was fine until Eli and I got to the north end of the main battlefield, suddenly when I wanted to cross the battlefield Eli wouldn't move. We were in the area of the famous Pickett's charge where thousands of soldiers died and thousands of horses were killed. After a lot of coaxing on my part I finally got Eli to go, however he would stop every once in awhile not wanting to go. The battlefield is a large open area about 1 mile square sometimes referred to as a cow pasture, completely open and yet Eli as we say was huntin' boogers like a horse might when they are looking for something to shy at, but there was nothing there. The whole experience was weird. Eli was obviously seeing or sensing something I couldn't see. After we finally crossed the battlefield, we came upon a wooded trail, like the first trail we were on. Now Eli took off like the devil himself, was after him. I could hardly hold him back, all the way, about one-mile to camp. After we got back to camp, he settled right down like nothing happened. Of all my rides that certainly was the strangest.

2002 JULY: We drove out to Montana for another Chief Joseph Ride. After the ride we crossed the Canadian border, headed for Alaska. On the way I rode in Alberta and British Columbia Canada. I thought shoot, we might as well do Canada too.

Diane: Canada has the same land area as the United States. In addition to riding in all the provinces, I also rode in 2 territories, Yukon and the Northwest. We were told we were about 60 miles from the Arctic Circle at one point in the Northwest Territories. When we were in Ft. Liard, some of the Indian boys about 10 to 12 years old said they had never seen a live horse before. There were many signs on the 125 mile mostly gravel washboard road we had to take, warning us of wild buffalo. These kids see wild buffalo, not horses. Like Paul Harvey often says "It's not just one world." That trip was 13,707 miles. After Alaska we went back to my brothers home in Battleground Washington and this time they followed Mary Ellen and I to Northern CA, to ride with me in the redwoods.

2002 June/July: I did 6 more states and the District of Columbia-NY, CT, RI, MA, NJ, DE, and Rock Creek Park in Washington D. C. At that point we only had 4 states to do.

2003 JULY: Back to Montana for our 4th Chief Joseph Ride. After this ride we crossed the Canadian Border into Saskatchewan and headed east to Manitoba, Ontario, Quebec, New Brunswick, Nova Scotia, Prince Edward Island and Newfoundland, and back to Nova Scotia. Now into New Brunswick and back into the United States through Maine. I rode in ME, NH, and VT, that made 49 states.

I have 80,000 miles on my truck approximately 65,000 miles pulling my trailer with Eli in it. Eli is still sound, I think that alone speaks well if not volumes about how tough these appaloosas are, but then I don't have to tell you that is like preaching to the choir, let's tell everyone else.

Eli is 15.1 hands tall and weighs about 970 lbs. He is slim built with long lean muscles. He is very strong, but where he gets his strength I don't know, he doesn't look strong. His color is red roan with a large white blanket. He has lots of chestnut spots about the size of a dime to a quarter. He really has the graying gene, but than so do I. The good lord willing and the creeks don't rise, we, Eli and I hope to do all 1300 miles of the Chief Joseph Ride. Eli will be 22 and I'll be 75. We hope to do Hawaii in January or February 2005. We are working on a web site now. It will be We hope to have it up by November 1, 2003.

I'm not a Johnnie come lately to the appaloosa breed. In the early 60's upon the advice of my insurance man I took a quarter horse mare to a appaloosa stallion named Desert Dude # (can't find) Gaines, MI, unfortunately I haven't been able to lay my hands on my documentation on the filly that was born in 1961.

Her name was Desert Doll. Except for the years 1995 through 1999 I've owned appaloosa's for the past 42 years.

Everywhere we traveled in the USA and Canada, we were treated with respect and helped by everyone we came in contact with. I know my stories are lengthy, I just wanted to give you some idea, what it is like out there on the road. If your interested maybe the way to tell the whole story is in segments perhaps a short story monthly under the heading Eli and I.


Randy L Davisson