Vet detects weakness in Code Blue's legs

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UPDATE: Code Blue’s co-owners Jimmy Walton and Rick Wagoner are “still evaluating the next step” in the treatment of the reigning World Champion Bull, Walton said Tuesday.

When asked if Code Blue had bucked for the last time, Walton said, “That’s something Rick and I have to discuss. I think it’s too early in the game to make that conclusion, at this time.”

Walton hopes to have more definitive answers next week.

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[This story has been UPDATED. The original story, posted Monday, 8/23, follows.]

After examining Code Blue today, Dr. Truman Sanner was not optimistic that the reigning World Champion Bull will be able to return to competition.

“Guarded,” said Sanner about the prognosis. “It’ll be tough for him. I wouldn’t want him to return to bucking, but that’s not what Rick [Wagoner, one of Code Blue’s owners] wants to hear.”

Sanner observed bilateral high limb weakness, which worsened when Code Blue was excited, cornered or closed in.

“The right leg bothers him more than the left,” Sanner said. “He seems to favor the right a little more, but it’s bilateral.”

He also said there could be some nerve damage.

Sanner is continuing to research and gather information. He will consult several other large-animal veterinarians before advising Wagoner on a course of action. The North Carolina-based Sanner is looking into potential issues with a disc or vertebra in Code Blue’s back, or muscle problems related to a pinched nerve.

Code Blue was used in the short round Saturday night. Moments after being ridden by J. B. Mauney for 89.5 points, his back end fell to the dirt. He stumbled while getting up before wobbling to the out gate.

Code Blue returned to the BFTS last week, in Nashville, Tenn., where he bucked off Sevi Torturo and scored 45.25 points. He had been out of competition for the past four months after injuring himself a while running off a hauler at a Touring Pro event in North Dakota.

After spending Saturday night outside of Memphis, Wagoner and co-owner Jimmy Walton hauled Code Blue 11 hours home to Lexington, N.C. Wagoner then arranged for Sanner to examine the bull today.

“If it’s a disc, that’s a cause for concern,” said Sanner.

A number of experts who were in Memphis and have since watched footage said there did not appear to be any sign that Code Blue was injured prior to his trip with Mauney.

Some have also opined that he appeared to fall awkwardly after his back right leg came out from under him, which could have shocked the spinal cord.

Sanner said any interference with the spinal relay would affect nerve impulses going to the brain. However, he added, “There are a million reasons that could have happened. That’s one you’ll never know, but you can’t rule out he hurt himself bucking.”

Sanner, who works out of the Rocky Creek Vet Service, is certified by the ABBI and is located in Olin, N.C.

Code Blue made his Built Ford Tough Series debut last year in nearby Winston-Salem, N.C., and was unridden in 14 outs en route to winning the world title. This year, he’s been ridden twice in 13 outs – both qualified scores were earned by Mauney.

Chad Berger and Clay Struve are also part owners of Code Blue.

More information about Code Blue’s condition will be posted as it becomes available.

— by Keith Ryan Cartwright

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