Gist Silversmiths has made the BFI buckles for nearly all of the storied roping’s 41-year history, but the BFI Champion buckle on Cody Cowden’s belt is one-of-a-kind.
Cowden won the 1997 Bob Feist Invitational with a time of 47.72 seconds on six head with his Wrangler National Finals Rodeo partner Bobby Hurley. But the California cowboy lost the buckle that went with the win somewhere on the rodeo road not long after.
“I had my buckle for a couple of years, but all of a sudden it came up missing,” Cowden, who was riding his good horse Blue for the Feist win, said. “I kept waiting for it to show up, because it has my name all over it. If anybody out there knows where it’s at, let me know. I didn’t give it to anybody.”
Lucky for Cowden, he’s good friends with Gary Gist, the patriarch of the Gist Silversmith family. While Gist couldn’t duplicate the original buckle in all of its ruby-filled glory, he did give Cowden another trinket to help remember the win.
“I always asked him, ‘Could you make me another buckle?’ but he made me my own buckle that no one else has, and for that I’m very appreciative of Gary.”
The buckle commemorates a big week for Cowden. That year happened to be the only year that George Strait held his George Strait Team Roping Classic in June, and Cowden and Hurley got the win there, too, making them the only team to win both the BFI and GSTRC in a week’s time.