There is a special bond between a father and his son, and that treasured relationship is never more apparent than in the rodeo and Western world. The cowboy way of life is passed down from generation to generation, and cowboys everywhere grow up dreaming of becoming like their fathers.
For Kaycee and Lewis Feild, their bond has been unbreakable from the start, and after Round 9 of the Wrangler NFR, they share even more: the title of world champion. The younger Feild spurred Harry Vold Rodeo’s Hypnotic for 83 points, good enough for a three-way tie for fourth place, and clinched his first gold buckle by $179 over three-time World Champion Will Lowe.
With $256,236 in season earnings after Round 9, Feild stands $62,929 ahead of Lowe, an insurmountable advantage for Lowe to overcome. He leads Lowe in the average race by a whopping 32 points and just has to stay on his 10th-round horse to clinch the average crown as well. Feild is $53,980 behind four-time World Champion Bobby Mote’s single-season earnings record of $310,219 set in 2009 and needs to finish third or better in Round 10 to break Mote’s record.
Kaycee – who came close before with a third-place finish in 2009 and a fifth-place result last year – earned his first championship 26 years after his father won the first two of his five career gold buckles.
The proud father-son duo stopped by the Wrangler NFR press room after the bareback riding, with the new world champ still numb to the reality of what he’d just accomplished.
“Nope, not yet, and I don’t think it will for a while,” Kaycee said when I asked him if his championship had sunk in yet. “It doesn’t feel any different. I’m just happy it turned out the way it did, and I feel blessed I drew the horses I did and rode as well as I did.”
He was as focused as ever coming into the ninth performance at the Thomas & Mack Center.
“I knew I had to come here and just do my job to lock it up, and I’m happy with how it turned out,” Kaycee said. “I was hoping to come here and better myself tonight and really lock it in there and make it clear that I came here to do the job and ride and win.”
They are the sixth father-son tandem to win world titles in ProRodeo history, joining Deb (SB) and Jeff Copenhaver (TD); John Sr. and John Jones Jr. (SW); John and Clark McEntire (SR), Butch and Rope Myers (SW); and Bobby (BR) and Sid Steiner (SW).
“I think it’s awesome,” he said. “That’s something that will be remembered forever. We’re best friends, and he’s my dad on top of that. So, it’s just awesome, and I couldn’t be happier.”
Lewis, who won three all-arounds (1985-87) and two bareback riding gold buckles (1985-86), grinned from ear to ear as he stood next to his son and fielded questions.
“I’m really proud of him, proud of the way he carries himself and the way he treats people,” Lewis said. “I could see this coming all year long. I’d seen him ride quite a few times, and he’d just been dominant. We get here, and he wins the first three rounds, and I was pretty sure this was going to happen.
“You don’t want to count your chickens before they’ve hatched, but I had a good feeling about it. I know he had a lot of confidence, and I had a lot of confidence in him. We’re sure glad it worked out the way it did.”
Kaycee paid tribute to his Hall of Fame father for helping him develop into a world champion.
“My dad is my hero, and he taught me everything,” Kaycee said. “Coming here and doing as well as I have with him being here cheering me on and talking to him before I go to get on just helps out tremendously.”
The elder Feild said he feels his son is more talented than he was in his heyday.
“People want to ask, ‘Do you think he rides better than you?’” Lewis said. “They think they’re going to make me feel bad if they say that, but there’s nothing that makes me feel better. And I do think he rides better than me, and I’m very proud of that.”
Fittingly, Kaycee’s draw in Round 9 was the same horse he won the College National Finals Rodeo on in 2008. That was when Lewis said he first realized his son could one day be a world champion like him.
“He made a fabulous ride there (in 2008), and he’d shown me signs with his riding before, but his desire is what stuck out there,” Lewis said. “I could really see that he was focused and that he had bigger and better things in line. I could see it wasn’t the end, but was just the beginning.”
Kaycee said that topping his friend Lowe, whom he holds in the highest regard, made the accomplishment even that much sweeter.
“Will Lowe, Bobby Mote and others in the locker room definitely gave me some helpful advice,” he said. “They’re my friends, and to come out, compete against them and beat them is just awesome. They’re just as happy as I am. That locker room is full of the best guys you’ll ever meet.”
Kaycee reflected on his potentially record-breaking season.
“It’s probably been the most fun I’ve had, for sure,” Kaycee said. “My traveling partners and I rodeoed a little differently this year than we have in the past, and we focused on some different things. It turned out awesome, and I couldn’t be any happier.”
Tie-down roper Tuf Cooper leads the world standings and could join his Hall of Fame father, Roy, as a world champ in Round 10. That would make this year’s Finals even more of a family affair.
The sport that prides itself on being one big family now has another father-son gold-buckle duo. Congrats to Kaycee for a job well done.