Randy Travis Was a Cowboy Before He Became a Country Star

by Clayton Edwards

When we think of Randy Travis we often talk about his voice, his songs, and his love of traditional country music. However, there’s so much more to the legendary country artist than that. There’s an authenticity to his music even in the songs he didn’t write. That authenticity resonates with anyone who hears it and makes devoted fans out of casual listeners.

In the documentary More Life which showcases the life and legacy of Randy Travis, we learn that Randy is pure country. In fact, long before he stepped into the studio, the “Diggin’ Up Bones” singer was a cowboy.

Randy Travis’ Cowboy Roots

During the third installment of More Life, those who worked closely with Randy Travis talked about his roots. Jeff Davis, Randy’s longtime tour manager and friend put it in simple terms. “Randy – he’s a real cowboy,” Davis said.

As Davis says this, we see footage of Randy Travis in full Western garb standing in a picturesque Texas prairie spinning a revolver. Make no mistake, Randy knows his way around a shooting iron. His skills would put Johnny Ringo from Tombstone to shame. We’ll get back to Randy’s skills with a gun in a moment though.

A Horseman at Heart

Looking back at his childhood, Randy Travis said, “My dad ran cattle, horses. I pretty much grew up as a cowboy.”

In the fourth installment of More Life, Randy talked a little about his affinity for horses. He said that he sat on a horse for the first time when he was just three months old.

“Horses are real therapeutic, I guess would be a good way to put that,” he said. About being on horseback, Travis said, “It’s a good place for me, sometimes, to get away from everybody and just spend some quiet time alone and pray or just time out by yourself where there’s no questions to worry about.”

He went on to say that he enjoyed training pleasure horses and trick horses. He learned to train horses from his father. “My dad’s a wonderful pleasure and trick horse trainer. Probably the best I’ve ever seen.”

Since Randy Travis’ stroke in 2013, he can’t ride and train horses like he once did. However, his horses are still very therapeutic for him. In a 2018 interview for More Life, Randy’s wife Mary said that on pretty days they will still go down and spend time with their horses. About them, Mary said, “They remember him. They’ll put their head through the fence and lay it right on his shoulder.”

She recalled putting Randy on his horse, Preacher, one time after coming back from the hospital. She put him on the horse and walked beside him to help him keep his balance. Going into the second lap, Mary said that Randy gently pushed her away. “He wanted to do it on his own and off he went,” she said with a smile.

Randy Travis Was Handy with a Gun

During the third installment of More Life, Randy Travis revealed that he started practicing quick draw at the age of 13. If the clip of him spinning his revolver didn’t drive home how good he was with a gun, a story from his longtime producer and collaborator Kyle Lehning certainly will.

After comparing Randy Travis’ quick draw skills with Roy Rogers, Lehning told a story about Travis’ speed and accuracy. “He hated cell phones,” Lehning recalled. “He was with some folks and there was a cellphone. They threw it in the air and [Randy] drew and shot a hole through the cell phone. True story.”