In 1991 World Champion cowboy Lewis Feild announced his retirement.
By Gavin Ehringer, written October 1991
From each new decade seems to emerge one great all-around cowboy. The 1950s produced Jim Shoulders. In the ’60s, it was Larry Mahan. Tom Ferguson dominated the ’70s. And the ’80s belonged to Lewis Feild.
Feild, who captured the world all-around title from 1985 through 1987, recently announced that he would retire from full-time competition. He plans to finish out the 1991 season, and hopes to gain one of the fifteen National Finals Rodeo berths in the bareback riding event, something he has done each year since 1981. He also hopes to compete m the saddle bronc riding, as he did in 1985, ’86, and ’87.
It has been said that a man’s accomplishments can be measured by the respect of his peers. By this yardstick, Feild is indeed an accomplished cowboy.
“Lew’s probably one of the toughest competitors around. You think he’s getting old, and you turn around and he s spurring like a 19-year-old kid,” said bareback rider Clint Corey. “You can never count Lewis Feild out, that’s for sure.”
Corey speaks from experience. In both 1985 and ’86, Corey was in the chase for the world champion bareback rider’s buckle, only to finish second to Feild at the National Finals. “The first year I went to the NFR, we were in the race for the title, and he beat me out that year and the next. Pressure never gets to him.
“A lot of guys are conservative on rank horses, but he’ll put it to all of ‘em,” said Corey. “When he’s out ahead of you, he’ll really put it to ’em and that makes you think, ‘ Yeah, that’s how to do it.”‘
Another competitor who holds Feild in high esteem is Dave Appleton, a bareback and bronc rider from Queensland, Australia. In 1988, Appleton knocked Feild from the all-around throne by a scant $643.
“Whenever I am at a rodeo with Lewis Feild, it is an honor to compete beside him,” said Appleton. “What can you say about a guy like Lewis? His record speaks for itself.” .
Indeed in his 11-year career in the Professional Rodeo Cowboys Association, Field has compiled an impressive record. In 1980, the PRCA named Feild the rookie bareback rider of the year. In 1981 and ’88, he claimed the Linderman Award, which is given to the cowboy with the highest earnings from both ends of the arena (in addition to his rough-stock skill, Feild is also a talented team roper). He won the National Finals Rodeo bareback riding average in 1984 and 1986, about the time he began his string of five world titles.
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