Letting the storyteller tell stories

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‘The Ride with Cord McCoy’ allows cowboy, minister to discuss his passions

Joe Howard Williamson is a cowboy, a minister and a storyteller, and he’s the perfect fit for the July 29 episode of “The Ride with Cord McCoy.”

Williamson owns Switchouse Ranch near Henrietta, a small north Texas community tucked just southeast of Wichita Falls, about a stone’s throw from the Red River that borders Oklahoma. He’s proud to carry on the legacy of being a cowboy, and he wears the hat as well as anyone could.

“I met him at a bull riding when he was preaching,” said McCoy, a reality TV star, bull rider and, now, host of the show that airs at 1 and 11 p.m. Mondays on RFD-TV. “We just kept running into each other and became friends. I was asked to give my testimony at a PBR cowboy church, and he was the preacher that day. I went to Fort Worth and did a celebrity cutting that served as a fund-raiser, and he was also there.

Joe Howard Williamson
Joe Howard Williamson

“I just thought he was a pretty diverse, interesting man. I had heard a lot about his ranch. After becoming friends and knew what kind of guy he was, I wanted to go spend more time with him.”

The good thing is he lets the viewers in on the comfortable visit with Williamson.

“I think with any man like that, if you just sit down with them and visit a little bit, you can definitely tell what’s important to them real quick,” McCoy said. “With him, he wanted to talk about the gospel, and he wanted to talk about cutting and ranching. It’s neat to go into somebody’s place and showcase what they do.”

The updating editing of the show does just that. Since the show re-launched July 1, the enhanced presentation tells a wonderful tale. In this case, editors and producers of “The Ride” allowed Williamson to weave his magical tones.

“We run around 1,200 cows here in Archer County,” Williamson said in the show. “We do everything horseback.”

What else would viewers expect from a traditional cowboy who reads his Bible and shares the testimony of his faith?

“One summer when I was in junior high, I got to drinking,” he said. “I loved the way it made me feel. I drank quite a bit through high school. When I got off to college, I drank bad. I got married the first time (and) had trouble in my marriage because of my drinking and drug use.

“The Lord took her home in a car wreck. (It) just broke my heart.”

Distraught and ashamed that alcoholism and drug addiction were ruling his life, Williamson leaned on an old childhood acquaintance.

“I went back to church, and I heard the gospel,” he said. “I was really contemplating if that’s what I needed to do, give my life to the Lord. I went to a treatment center for drugs and alcohol. I quit drinking and drugging, but I still didn’t have any peace. In 1988, I made the decision to trust Christ as my Savior.”

He began working with Dawson McAllister, a prominent youth minister from Nashville, who encouraged Williamson to consider horse ministry. It was an amazing combination of things Williamson loves. He developed Horsemen for Christ in 1994.

“I knew it was important for me to become a winner,” he said. “I knew if I could get competitive and be good at it, it would be a platform to share the Lord with a lot of people.”

So he became competitive and began qualifying for the National Cutting Horse Association World Finals in 1996 – he’s been back every year since. He won titles in 1999, 2004 and 2006 in the non-pro division.

It all enables Williamson the opportunity to live a life he loves and share his passions with others, including a little one-on-one time with McCoy in the cutting pen.

“When you get on someone else’s horse, that the horse is a contender for a world title, you feel like a sponge for information,” McCoy said. “You feel like you’re about 90 percent concentrating on the cow and 10 percent on what Joe Howard is going to say next. You’re all ears trying to pay attention.”

And that’s what viewers will be during the next episode of “The Ride with Cord McCoy,” a showcase for cowboys who love what they do.


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