I stepped on a scale on Aug. 1 and didn’t like what I saw.
My sloth-like existence in recent months and even years had pushed my weight to new and disturbing heights, and my Wranglers were begging for help. So, I decided to do something about it.
By changing my diet and exercising at least six days a week, I slowly began to shed the pounds that had begun to plague me. When I stepped on the scale on Tuesday, I was happy to see I had hit the 20-pound mark for weight loss.
It got me to thinking about how cowboys stay in shape during the season, when they’re driving and flying thousands of miles, grabbing fast food and meals when they can and sitting on planes or in a truck cab for hours and hours on end. The first guy I thought of was three-time World Champion Bareback Rider Kaycee Feild.
Known to be as strong as an ox and built like a fullback, Feild is a physical specimen who no doubt has used his strength and stamina as springboards to world titles. Most bareback riders have athletic and stocky builds, but Feild takes it to another level.
As expected, he said exercising during the season is difficult and is more about maintenance than building added strength.
“In the bareback riding, in July we get on a horse a day or sometimes two horses a day, and I get so dang tight and knotted up,” said Feild, who leads the bareback riding standings with $159,033. “In June, July and August, it’s mostly just a mile or two-mile run and then just stretching, trying to get loose and my muscles to free up. I really stress rest, especially with all of the all-night driving, and I find that working out really wears you down that time of year.
“Rest, running and stretching has been the No. 1 key to my success.”
Once the regular season concludes at the end of this month, he will step up his workout regimen.
“Starting Oct. 1, I’ll be in the gym probably 12 hours a week,” said Feild, who has a gym in the basement of his home in Spanish Fork, Utah. “I mostly just do body-weight exercises, but use some weights, too. I don’t want to bulk up. I want to be lean and limber.”
Combining cardio and strength training, Feild pushes himself in the offseason.
“I do cardio every time,” he said of his trips to his gym. “I do a lot of ladder sprints, box jumps, jumping rope and anything to get the heart rate up. I like to change it up every time I go in there.”
Feild said he’s even considering mixing in some yoga this offseason along with his wife, Stephanie, to help give him added flexibility. Feild also said he takes daily vitamins, but not protein supplements.
Having a solid offseason workout plan helps Feild begin new rodeo seasons with energy and a stockpile of stamina.
“If you’re in shape and working out, when you get to the rodeo, you feel like you’re supposed to,” Feild said. “You have a lot of energy, you’re aggressive and wound up, instead of being down in the dumps. I feel like, as soon as you start letting yourself go and aren’t working on personal fitness, you get to the rodeo with the wrong attitude.”
I got a humorous response from Feild when I asked who the noted “gym rats” were among the ProRodeo ranks.
“Jesse Wright is an animal in the gym,” Feild said.
So, I called Wright to inquire about what exactly he does to stay strong. Apparently, building one heck of a personal gym in his Milford, Utah, home has been a big help.
“I’ve got a weight room in my house,” said Wright, the 2012 world champion saddle bronc rider. “I’ve got a heavy bag, a speed bag, a bench press, dumbbell weights from 25 to 100 pounds and 450 pounds of bar weight. I make up different workouts to mix it up and so I get a different effect.”
As far as staying in shape on the road, well, Wright has implemented a plan for that, too.
“I’ve got resistance bands from 20 to 100 pounds that I pack around on the road,” Wright said. “We have the Perfect Pushup, too, and that’s what I use on the road. We’ve got a big mat, and I do a lot of P90X-type workouts.”
Staying fit and strong is key for Wright, who swears by its benefits.
“I think it’s a crucial deal, myself,” said Wright, who stands 12th in the saddle bronc riding world standings with $59,846. “I think your body can take it when a horse smacks you way better than if you were out of shape. If something does happen and you’re in shape, your muscles might not get torn or torn as bad, and you can come back quicker.
“I try to stay in shape as best I can to try and prevent that.”
Earlier this year, I talked to four-time World Champion Steer Wrestler Luke Branquinho about his rehab regimen as he recovers from a shoulder injury. He feels like he will come back stronger than ever, and Feild fully expects that to happen.
“I think he’s going to come back stronger than ever and be better than he’s ever been,” Feild said of Branquinho. “That’s going to light a fire under those other guys’ butts. Those other guys are going to wake up, start working out and doing some things to better themselves.”
He can relate to what Branquinho is going through.
“It’s kind of similar to what happened to me,” Feild said. “No one was really working out in the bareback riding and were just working on their riding. Then, I broke my arm in 2010 and had been going to the Middle East (to visit U.S. troops), and was talking to those guys about preparation and being ready for any situation.
“I just started using that for my bareback riding by going to the gym, and that’s when I realized how strong and aggressive I could be and how good riding could feel.”
Three gold buckles later, and with a fourth straight looking good for 2014, there’s no questioning that Feild was right.