The photo above is how I remember Ronnie. Except for Ronnie’s roan horse, these are all two- and three-year old youngsters with almost no handling. I never saw a horse who wasn’t comfortable around Ronnie.
Here’s my favorite story about Ronnie Willis. Ronnie was working in Montana and came over to help tag newborn calves near Three Forks, Montana, with a friend who owned a cow/calf operation and myself. Ronnie had helped me with my horse, who I was getting to be very proud of. I was all by myself and managed to drop a loop onto a very young calf without disturbing anything. I got off, and my horse was doing a great job of keeping the rope taut, so I could tag the calf. As I approached the calf, I think my horse sensed that I was pretty excited about how well everything was going. He got worried and put a little too much slack in the rope. I had to scramble a step or two to get to the calf, and slipped and fell right into what I’m pretty sure was some old placenta . . . As I was slithering around and trying to regroup, Ronnie came over a rise on his roan horse and observed the entire scene. He didn’t say a word. I saw his face kind of wrinkle up and he turned and rode slowly off back the way he had come. Several hours later over coffee, when we were finally alone, he allowed as how it was one of the funniest things he had ever seen. What a gentleman.