By Lillian Landreth
Tilden Hooper took home his second consecutive bareback riding title from The American on March 6, 2022. With his best friend and fellow bareback rider, Kaycee Field, hollering for him from the chutes, Tilden spurred Frontier Rodeo’s Gun Fire to a 91-point ride in the final round, edging just past Kaycee’s score of 90.5. Gun Fire took the Carthage, Texas, cowboy for a championship ride in the final round of The American in 2021 as well.
Tilden’s parents, Terry and Patti Hooper, and wife, Melissa, were also cheering from the stands. “When you see a pretty one [ride] you know it,” says Patti. She and Terry go to as many of Tilden’s rodeos as possible, and have never missed a night of the WNFR in his eight years qualifying. “It was fabulous to see him accomplish something that is large on his bucket list—and back-to-back! By the fifth jump, I thought, ‘He’s got this,’ and it was just beautiful.”
Dad’s Bootprints, Mom’s Prayers
Terry rode bareback horses on the Texas Circuit until he became a family man. Tilden followed in his dad’s bootprints and got on his first bronc in his early teens, much to Patti’s alarm. “We bought a travel trailer and started hauling with him, and it all turned out good.” Tilden qualified for the 2007 College National Finals Rodeo his freshman year at Panola Junior College and won it. Patti paced the floor back home, where she was helping Tilden’s sister, Mia, with her bachelorette party, until she got the exciting news. “At this stage of the ball game, I’m still a nervous wreck. But the live videoing has calmed me a lot,” says Patti. “Now that I can see him get off, that helps. I say lots of prayers.”
Patti laughs now when she recalls her wariness years ago when Tilden wanted to travel with his new college friend, Kaycee Feild, and his family. “We had to talk about it. We met Lewis and Veronica, and they are as good of people as you’ll ever meet. Kaycee stayed down here in the winter, and Tilden went up to Utah in the summer. Kaycee is just like one of our kids, and they are the very best of friends.
“Tilden has had so much success and good experiences, and we’ve been blessed. I was proud Sunday [at The American], just as proud as any mom whose children are successful in whatever they are doing.”
About the Author
Lillian Landreth is a freelance writer and editor. She particularly enjoys writing about rodeo and the extraordinary people and animals who make the lifestyle fascinating. The author of more than 1,000 stories, her writing has appeared in the Rodeo News; The Ketchpen, published by the Rodeo Historical Society and National Cowboy & Western Heritage Museum; and local newspapers. She is also working on her first novel. When she’s not writing, Lily enjoys riding with the Snake River Stampeders night light drill team, coaching the EhCapa Bareback Riders, a PRCA specialty act, and teaching horseback riding lessons. She makes her home in Southwest Idaho with her entrepreneurial husband, their dog, horse, and cows.