Steve pulled out of the business five years later, but Dwight continued doing what he loved, and what he did best. And now, almost 40 years later, he’s still at it.
“I’ve done it all my life,” he said. “You get it in your blood, so you can’t shake loose from it.”
In 1973, Dwight acquired a new partner when lovely young Donna Lightner became his bride. For four decades now, the two have worked together to make F Bar F a thriving enterprise—and one that is highly respected in the rodeo and bull-riding industries.
Dwight and Donna recently reached the pinnacle of success in the breeder’s world when F Bar F was named Breeder of the Year by American Bucking Bull, Inc. (ABBI), the leading bucking cattle DNA registry in the world.
The Fricks received a phone call around one o’clock in the morning on Sunday, October 27. Being awakened in the wee hours of the morning is generally not considered a great experience; but in this case, the reason for the call was well worth the bother. The voice on the other end informed the two that they had received the highly-prestigious honor.
The announcement had been made on Saturday evening at the 10th annual PBR World Bucking Bull Finals in Las Vegas.
The Fricks had raised bull #708 and had sold him to Wyatt Crowder of Colorado while the animal was still a yearling.
Crowder had named the bull The Rocker and had entered him in the ABBI Classic, a futurity for 4-year-olds, held in conjunction with the finals. Rocker’s strength and performance in the arena that weekend had earned him the Classic title and his owner $200,000.
And because the Fricks had bred Rocker, they were now considered the world’s top breeders. With the honor came 50 free calf registrations from the ABBI, a trophy and a belt buckle. Because they were unable to attend the finals, someone else had accepted the award for them and the prizes were to be sent to them.
Dwight said that this award is the most coveted honor a breeder can receive.
Prize bullsThe Fricks have bred and raised a number of bulls well-known for their breeding—bulls that have made it to the national finals rodeos and the PBR finals. They were sold to professional producers who entered them in pro events.
On the Scene of the Crash won the PBR finals.
Jim Jam was the highest-scoring bull at a PBR event with 96½ points out of 100.
Super Freak won the American Heritage Futurity in Ardmore, which, after the PBR finals, is the nation’s largest futurity for 2-year-olds.
And then there’s Dodge Durango, a bull whose bounty grew from $9,000 to $78,000 before he was retired (his bounty was never collected, because he never met a cowboy he couldn’t throw).
Ranch lifeOn the average, Dwight and Donna own around 160 cows, 140 calves and 60 to 70 bulls. They own or lease 2,500 acres of land in six locations—five devoted to pastureland and their livestock. The sixth, located about four miles north of Marlow, consists of 268 acres on which their home sits, as well as corrals and stalls for the bucking horses and newly-weaned calves. Another 500 acres is planted in a food crop, wheat.
Dwight handles the day-to-day, hands-on livestock duties, although Donna helps with a number of these responsibilities whenever her assistance is needed. She also does the paperwork for the business.
“Producing rodeos and bull-riding events, and raising our bucking stock, is our life,” Donna noted.
They have been producing the Walters Roundup Club Rodeo for 40 years of its 52-year history. Other area events they plan and implement include the Duncan Noon Lions Club Rodeo, the Stephens County Fair Rodeo, the Watermelon Festival rodeo, and others in Lindsay and Apache. Next up is a benefit bull-riding event on January 11 to raise funds for Marlow’s After-Prom Extravaganza.
As rodeo and bull-riding producers, the Fricks are responsible for supplying the livestock for the events, along with hiring the announcers, secretaries, judges, contract acts (rodeo clowns), bullfighters, and handlers who help load and unload the livestock. These contract laborers usually number around 15.
“We can’t do without our crew,” Donna stated. “They’re a lot of fun.”
Donna also registers the contestants who enter the various events.
On “downtimes,” when none of their events is imminent, the Fricks handle the ranch’s operations almost entirely by themselves, except on occasions like branding or feeding time, or in specific situations when a helping hand or two is needed. Their most frequent part-time hire is Clay Rennaker of Rush Springs.
The Frick brand is the Rockin’ F.
Approximately 40 bulls are sold each year to buyers from throughout the country, and the ranch also raises and sells heifers and cows.
Now, the bulls at F Bar F are “pretty mean customers.” They are, after all, bred for a specific purpose—to throw those pesky cowboys off their backs. Their mean dispositions, as well as their athleticism and bucking techniques, are qualities that are bred into them, Dwight explained.
And the technique is important, he added.
“The spinning is good, but the kickin’ is where it’s at,” he elaborated.
Dwight ought to know.
He believes that 60 percent of a bull’s genetics come from his mother, and 40 percent from his sire.
Dwight bears a few scars that are solid testaments to the strength of those genetics; but considering the many years he’s been in the business, he’s still on his feet and not in the least reluctant to match wits with any bull in his herd. And those guys generally weigh between 1,400 and 1,600 pounds.
He draws blood from the calves during the year they are born and sends the samples to the ABBI for DNA-testing and registration purposes.
In addition to the cattle, the Fricks generally have around 25 horses on hand at any given time. They purchase them from a horse-breeder in Colorado; and they are, in Dwight’s words, “well-bred horses.”
The F Bar F’s two herding dogs, both Australian shepherds, are great at keeping the cattle at bay and share Donna Frick’s affection with her two housecats.
The Fricks seldom bond with any of their livestock. However, “there’s always that one,” Dwight pointed out. For him, it was bull #708 (currently The Rocker); and for Donna, it’s an orphaned heifer she named Ruby. Donna nurtured the calf, even feeding her through a tube because she wouldn’t accept the bottle, and Ruby is still a part of the herd, a treasured part, as far as Donna is concerned.
Family and friendsDwight and Donna have two daughters, Christie Morgan and Sherrie Frick, and two grandchildren, Kya and Landon.
Dwight indicated that he and Donna enjoy dealing with the people that their business sends their way—whether they’re buyers, sellers or contract workers.
“We’ve made friends around the world,” he noted.
“We’ve been in the business so long, we know most of the breeders personally,” said Donna.
In fact, buyers sometimes stay in their home while in the area.
“We treat them warm,” Donna attested.
Obviously, Dwight and Donna Frick wouldn’t “shake loose” from the lifestyle they’ve loved for so long. . .even if they wanted to.
And just as obviously, they don’t.