Bushwacker sidelined

Bushwacker's recovery time will depend on the surgical procedure itself.


  • A break in the P1 bone of Bushwacker’s back right fetlock will require surgery.
  • Bushwacker will be out of competition for up to four months.

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ELGIN, Texas - Julio Moreno confirmed today that Bushwacker, the World Champion Bull he co-owns with Richard Oliveira, will undergo surgery on Tuesday to remove a fractured P1 bone in the fetlock of his back right leg.

The injury, which is causing only slight discomfort, was first discovered last week. Kent Cox, who raised and hauls the top-ranked bull, has transported him from his ranch in Dublin, Texas, to Elgin.

According to Dr. Gary Warner, who will perform the procedure, Bushwacker has a fracture in the joint near his foot. Warner said the injury typically occurs when the joint, which would be called an ankle on a human, becomes over-flexed and "pops the end of the bone off." In its current condition, it can cause discomfort in certain positions.

The fragment is attached, but loosened. Warner has performed the surgery numerous times, but in other cases he's done so conventionally by making an incision. This time he's hoping to utilize a less invasive procedure. But Warner said cattle anatomy can sometimes be more difficult to work in with an arthroscope.

'The bull is not in a lot of pain right now.'

In a best-case scenario, Bushwacker would be laid off for 60 days and possibly return to competition in time for the Iron Cowboy Invitational in March. If the procedure requires an incision, the recovery time could be as long as four months.

"Step 1 is to do the surgery and see where we're at," Moreno said.

"The bull is not in a lot of pain right now," Warner said. "This is as precautionary as anything that we can do to insure that he is at 100 percent of his capacity."

Warner would have performed the surgery this week, but because of the holidays, he is waiting until his entire staff will be on hand. Warner told Moreno the injury is common in racehorses and that he will have an equine veterinarian with him.

"He said being that it's Bushwacker, he wanted everyone there with him when he does the surgery," Moreno said, "so that made me feel better that he's in good hands, and that's where I want him."

BW inetrior

Bushwacker was undefeated in 2011, ultimately besting Cord McCoy and his competition in Las Vegas in October to claim his first world title.

When it comes to large-animal veterinarians, Moreno compared Warner to Dr. Tandy Freeman.

Neither Moreno nor Cox has any way of knowing exactly when or how the injury occurred, but is not likely to have happened in a bucking chute.

Cox noted that the Dublin area, about 15 miles south of Stephenville, recently received just over 4 inches of rain, and the pens had gotten muddy.

Bushwacker is known for running around and playing in the dirt. It's common for him to kick his back end up like he's bucking, and to rub the top of his head in the dirt, but last week he wasn't his normal  self. Cox gave him another day, and when he still wasn't playing as usual, he and Moreno made the decision to have Warner examine him.

'He's in good hands, and that's where I want him.'

Warner was out on vacation at the time. A staff member took the X-rays and noticed a chip.

Cox and Moreno suspect that playing in the mud made the injury noticeable.

Cox said that it's better to have gone through this now than at the end of the season prior to the Finals. "It's never good, but it could always be worse," he said.

"These are old injuries that he never showed any favor for. This isn't anything new, and who's to say how old they are, but from my understanding it's 60 to 90 days old. … It was cold, damp, wet weather more than anything I think, and having to stand in the mud and tromp through the mud just finally got him sore."

Bushwacker is expected to regain his status as the top bull in the PBR. He was scheduled to make his 2012 Built Ford Tough Series debut in Anaheim, Calif., and would have been part of the first Top 15 matchup in Sacramento, Calif.

Moreno is hopeful he can compete three or four times before the summer break, and then return in the fall for the stretch run to the PBR World Finals.

"When I got the call my heart dropped a little bit," said Moreno, who admitted he felt nervous and that his blood pressure went up awaiting Warner's official diagnosis. "It's better now that I understand the whole deal. We need to go with the surgery and get it out, and that way he's ready to play again."

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