LAS VEGAS – H.D. Page and SweetPro’s Bruiser have been the best of pals for the last five years.
It is hard to find a bull more loved by Page on the D&H Cattle Company ranch in Ardmore, Oklahoma, so of course Page was concerned when he noticed Bruiser’s hocks appeared to be swollen while unloading the 2016 World Champion Bull contender out of his hauler and into his pen at the South Point Hotel, Spa and Casino.
Page knew he had a decision to make. He always puts his bull’s health at the top of the priority list, but he also loved the idea of giving Bruiser a chance to win his first World Championship a year after the 2015 ABBI Classic Bull almost beat out his brother and 2015 World Champion SweetPro’s Long John.
There was no way he would buck Bruiser if the bull wasn’t healthy enough, therefore, Page, his girlfriend, Mesa Pate, and Mike Hadley put their heads together about what kind of treatment they could give Bruiser.
Hadley’s wife is a barrel racer, and Mesa also has her fair share of horses, and the two brought up the idea of using some poultice mud on Bruiser’s hocks and ankles to try and draw out the inflammation.
Three times a day, Page, Mesa and Hadley would get to work on Bruiser in preparation for the World Finals.
“We had some issues with him earlier in the week,” Page said after Bruiser won the 2016 World Champion Bull title on Sunday afternoon. “His hocks swelled up. His hocks were huge. We worked on him day and night for three or four days. We wrapped his legs and, luckily, he is so gentle and his disposition is not like any bucking bull I ever had. He is like a dog. We were able to get in there and do some work.”
The 2016 World Champion Bull is so peaceful and docile outside of the arena that the 5-year-old bovine superstar let the group lay underneath him and apply the poultice mud, a clay or salt based paste that is spread on lower legs (typically) to draw out heat and inflammation, without even flinching.
“He is a pleasure to work with and he is fun to be around,” Page said. “He is a great bull and a great athlete. If they were all like that, everybody would be in the bull business.”
Bruiser was perfectly cool with letting everyone into his pen at bull housing and apparently was a gracious host.
“I probably should have been,” Pate replied when asked if she was nervous underneath a 1,500-pound bull. “Actually, Bruiser is your buddy. I think he knows we were taking care of him. He wasn’t always like that. It took him some time to be that trusting.”
Bruiser trusts Page because of the care and love he has shown him ever since he was born on March 2, 2011. Bruiser is the son of World Finals qualifier Show Time and a daughter of 2006 World Champion Bull Mossy Oak Mudslinger.
“I don’t think anybody could put into words how much means to him,” Pate said. “It is not just that bull. It is 30 years of everything to do with that bull genetically is because of H.D.”
Bruiser concluded the 2016 with 14 consecutive buckoffs after being ridden by Mason Lowe for 91 points in his season-debut in Oklahoma City. He averaged 45.3 points per out and was marked 46 points or higher one-third of the time this season.
He was the No. 1 bull in the World Championship Bull race heading into the Built Ford Tough World Finals, but he underperformed in Round 2 when he only earned a 44.5-point score for bucking Lowe off in 5.66 seconds.
However, Bruiser didn’t let Page and his caretakers down.
Bruiser rebounded from his Round 2 performance by ripping Dener Barbosa off his back at 7.5 seconds for a 46.25-point bull score in the Built Ford Tough Championship Round on Sunday.
“After the first round, I was out of it,” Page said. “We were a point and a half away from the lead so I knew he had to bring something today and he did. That is what he has done since day one. Since he has been a 2-year-old he has been that kind of athlete. His personality makes him that much more special.”
Pate added, “He has been unreal. There is a lot of them that are really great a few times and will let you down. Bruiser doesn’t do that. He never lets you down. A lot of people talk about how he might be a little easier, and maybe for some people he is, but it takes the world’s best to get it from him.
“There are a lot of bulls you run in there and you are just like, ‘Man, I am just praying this goes good.’ With Bruiser, you don’t have to even hardly get nervous because you know he is going to give 100 percent.”
D&H Cattle Company has now raised the last two World Champion Bulls. Long John actually tied with Bruiser and Pearl Harbor for the 2016 title, but Bruiser won the title based on a tiebreaker – which was the bull with the highest regular-season aggregate score of their best eight outs.
“It speaks volumes for our breeding program,” Page said. “It is most important for me that we raise the caliber of bulls that it takes for these guys to showcase their talents.
“Bruiser might be the most special bull yet. He is dearest to my heart and my family.”
Follow Justin Felisko on Twitter @jfelisko
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