The sight of a young bull stumbling and breaking a leg sent shrieks and gasps through the crowd of onlookers at the Aug. 21 performance of the 120th Annual World's Oldest Continuous Rodeo.
As bad as the freak accident first appeared, the bull is now on the mend in a pen in Alamosa, Colo.
Dr. Drew Justice, who treated the animal for the break, expects the bull will recover completely and might again be part of rodeo livestock contractor Roy Honeycutt's prime rough stock.
Justice credits the Honeycutt family for the decision to treat the animal and put a cast on the broken leg rather than euthanize him.
"They take very good care of their stock and are always looking out for them," he said.
The rodeo was a first for the young bull, sired by Candy Man, one of Honeycutt's top bulls.
"He bucked well for his first rodeo," Justice said.
At the time of the accident, the bull had thrown his rider and was being roped by pickup men Jerry Honeycutt and John Kissel.
The bull, known simply by his number J-4, had not yet been named.
Some stock contractors, like the Honeycutts, do not name their bulls until they see them buck and develop a personality.
The break, Justice diagnosed, was on the lower end of the tibia just above the hock.
After the Honeycutts made the decision to save the bull, Justice had him removed from the arena in a stock trailer and secluded in a pen.
"We couldn't anesthetize him for 24 to 36 hours," Justice said.
About 9 a.m. Sunday, Justice anesthetized the bull and began about a 1-1/2-hour procedure to build a cast.
Justice described the cast as an external support that has immobilized the upper part of the limb.
The treatment appears to have been a success.
"The bull woke up good and he'll wear the cast for about four to six weeks," Justice said.