FORT WORTH, Texas – The life of a bareback rider is living in a rough-and-tumble world that features powerful bucking horses and a passion for riding them.
It takes a special kind of man to strap himself to 1,200 pounds of muscle and flesh intent on dropping him to the arena dirt. These cowboys don’t just ride bucking beasts, they wedge their specially-made gloves outfitted with binds into a rigging designed to lock the glove in place. The rigging is strapped tightly to the animal’s back, so the two athletes are connected.
Nobody in the history of the game has done it better than Resistol cowboy Kaycee Feild, a six-time world champion from Genola, Utah, and the son of a five-time titlist, Hall of Famer Lewis Feild. He’s in north Texas this weekend battling for a third crown at The American.
He put himself in that position by winning Friday’s first go-round at Cowtown Coliseum in Fort Worth and leads a pack of 10 cowboys to advance to Sunday’s final performance, set for noon at AT&T Stadium in Arlington, Texas.
“This was really important, because you want to start off with a good ride for the weekend and put yourself in position to do something Sunday,” said Feild, who spurred Pickett Pro Rodeo’s Topped off for 88.5 points.
The American is unique in its payout. Winners in each event will earn $100,000, but there’s more to the mix. Ten contestants in each discipline made the field through an exemption by finishing near the top of the 2021 PRCA world standings. Six other cowboys battled through a series of qualifying events to be part of Friday’s field. Only the top 10 scores from the first round will compete Sunday.
The qualifiers, though, are part of the side pot, which is typically $1 million. Because no qualifier won his event last year, that money rolled over, increasing the pot to $2 million. Feild was a qualifier in 2018 and shared the side pot with two other contestants, pocketing $433,333 that year. It was a big move for the Utah man, who credited that run with returning him to one of the most elite bareback riders ever.
He will be joined at AT&T Stadium by two other Resistol bareback riders, 2019 world champion Clayton Biglow of Clements, California, and Jess Pope, who won the 2020 and ’21 NFR average titles and lives near Waverly, Kansas.
“I had a really good horse, and that’s what you need in this kind of format so you can move on,” said Biglow, who was 85.5 points to finish in a tie for sixth place in the opening round.