Eddie Caldwell was born in 1904 in Burnet, Texas. At 14 years old he began riding steers 1918 at his first rodeo in Breckenridge, Texas and rodeo became a lifelong career. At that time bull riding did not exist and steers were used instead of bulls. Eddie remembers that cars were parked in a circle to form an enclosure. When he successfully rode his first everyone honked their car horns. That’s all it took to instill his love for the sport of rodeo.
The young cowboy was soon stuffing his pockets with winnings from some of the largest rodeos of the era: 1921 he won a round at Fort Worth in the steer riding when the Tom Hickman, Captain of the Texas Rangers.
In the late 1920’s when rodeos began using bulls instead of steers he switched to saddle bronc riding. In 1923 he entered Stamford Cowboy Reunion for the first time. He was proud that he never bucked off at Stamford. The bronc rider really hit his stride in the 1930’s and 40’s. In 1943 he joined the Cowboy Turtles Association, the forerunner of the Professional Cowboys Association.
Caldwell recalled riding War Paint at the Madison Square Garden. Earl Wharton stated, ” It was one of the best bronc rides I had ever seen”. The bronc which finally ended Caldwell’s career was one called, “Knox City” owned by Texas Kid Jr. Knox City threw Caldwell and stepped on him.
While this time finally marked the end of Eddie’s rodeo career it was the beginning of a new one, training and showing cutting horses before the NCHA was organized. H rode “Silver Light” at his first NCHA event. Eddie was one of the 16 people who gathered under a tent in Fort Worth and organized the National Cutting Horse Association, (NCHA). Silver Light later made the top ten from 1951-1954, being one of the highest money winners of the decade.
Caldwell broke “Stardust’s Desire” before Matlock Rose rode her for Douglas Lake Company to become a World Champion in 1966. Eddie trained many fine cutting horses along the waybut that was not his main stay.
The cowboy’s third and longest running career was saddle making. When Caldwell began doing leatherwork for the public in Albany, Texas around 1934 most saddles ranged between $48 and $110. Caldwell’s first saddle sold for $85 while his last one sold in 1986 for $1,100.
Caldwell remembered saddles like he remembered horses. He said that the first one was a ‘little rough’. He claimed, “It took everyone in Albany to help me make it”. He continued to make saddles, bridles and various tack for many years. He spent endless hours in his leather shop visiting with friends and reminiscing about the early days of rodeo and cutting contests.
Eddie Caldwell will always be noted for his enlightened attitude and sense of cowboy humor constantly hovering just below the surface.