Top-ranked bronc rider keeps sport in perspective

By Kevin Carmody Published: July 11, 2013 | 9:55 pm 0

He tried his best, but his horse just didn't buck Thursday.

A score of 79 points meant he probably won't earn a paycheck at the 73rd Pikes Peak or Bust Rodeo Days at the Norris-Penrose Event Center.

Some cowboys, in the heat of the moment after seeing their hard work destroyed by their four-legged counterparts, might toss their hats in disgust or let their true feelings show.

Not Kaycee Feild.

These days, the two-time and reigning world bareback riding champion takes things in stride, and it has nothing to do with the fact that he's ranked No. 1 in the world standings.

Instead, the reality of war and service overseas has brought Feild to his senses. For the past five years around Memorial Day as part of the Wrangler National Patriot program, Feild has represented his country to help raise money for fallen soldiers and their families, and mostly to spread good will to weary service members in Afghanistan.

"We just go over there to try to bring a smile to their face," said Feild, the son of five-time world champion and ProRodeo Hall of Famer Lewis Feild. "I just talk about home and things they enjoy doing. You go over there, and they have this glaze in their eyes. It looks miserable."

So miserable that Feild admits he's ready to return to his rodeo season after 10 days halfway across the world. He can't fathom having to stomach those conditions for up to one year.

"I can't explain how horrible the place is, and it gives you a new appreciation for our soldiers," Feild said. "You hear the stories, but until you go over their and see it firsthand, it's very grounding. It knocks you back and takes you back to reality."

Last year, Feild resumed his rodeo season and soon after earned a share of the title at the Reno (Nev.) Rodeo, one of the Professional Rodeo Cowboys Association's richest regular-season rodeos. The year before, he had the top-scored bareback ride at the Sisters (Ore.) Rodeo, annually held in mid-June.

While his livelihood takes place, eight seconds at a time on the back of a fierce bucking horse, his priceless time shaking hands and sharing stories a world away certainly seems to re-energize the cowboy, who calls Spanish Fork, Utah, home.

"It's good for me to go," Feild said. "I go out there and forget about rodeo, and I get the craving back. I come back fresh and ready for the summer. My time there has definitely been a big factor, not only in my competitiveness, but each and every day of my life with my family and kids. We take a lot for granted."

Feild takes that to heart, making sure to put his rough night in perspective.

Many others in uniform, as Feild attests, have a different viewpoint of what a rough night really means.

"It looks miserable over there, and when I shake one of their hands, it brightens their day for a week or a month," Feild said. "I'm a lucky and fortunate young man, getting to do what I love because people like that are fighting for us."

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