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Richard was born in Macon, GA and is the youngest of four children. At the age of two his family moved from Georgia to Newport Beach, CA and at the age of four the family moved again to Houston, TX where he grew up until he graduated from High School in 1986.  Growing up in Houston is where he found his first love - dogs and horses - while training "bird-dogs" for professional "Field Trials" on Summer, Winter, Spring (and all other) school breaks. He worked hand-in-hand with one of the best bird-dog Trainers the world of Field Trials has ever known - Marc Appleton. With Richard as his "Scout" the two men dominated the Field Trial circuit in the Midwest and Texas for many years; collecting countless wins, trophies, Championships and "purse money."  As a result, Mr. Appleton and Mr. Willis produced a great number of AKC Champions - and their off-spring, that also became Champions - for many years to follow. Each year, from early May through mid September - from age ten to sixteen - Mr. Appleton and Mr. Willis would train up to one hundred twenty bird-dogs and twenty five horses at a time. In the summers, as part of training, they would travel north from Mr. Appleton's ranch in Piedmont, OK up through Kansas, Nebraska, South Dakota, North Dakota and into Canada ending at their "summer training camp" outside Mortlach, Saskatchewan. In Canada, they were able to train the dogs and horses for a longer period of time each day due to the cooler temperatures and longer daylight hours. “Training Season” in Canada would culminate each year at The Calgary Stampede, where Mr. Appleton and Mr. Willis would sell a number of their best trained horses to the highest bidders then, with the profits from the sales, they would buy a fresh group of young, unbroken horses and travel them back down to Mr. Appleton's ranch in Oklahoma. Once back in Oklahoma, the young horses would be trained by Mr. Appleton and Mr. Willis over the next year, along with the bird-dogs, and then the best horses would be sold at the end of the next summer at The Calgary Stampede. This cycle continued every year until school and sports eventually dominated Richard's time and his future.

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