When the bull event started, I had already realized that I was facing two separate issues:
First, if I could manage to place in this event, I might fill my permit. I needed to win $1,000 total, within a year, in order to do so, and I only lacked about $1,000 of makin’ that.
Second, from everything I’d heard about ole Preacher, the safest place to be was on his back. It didn’t seem like anyone got hurt, until they got OFF.
So when I climbed into the chute to mount that beast, I took a “suicide” wrap, instead of the traditional tuck. That means that I wrapped the tension end of my rope around my hand twice, inside of just laying a turn of it in my hand, to hold onto. The idea is, it’s easier to hold on that way.
Which is true. It is much easier to keep your hand in the rope, when you don’t have to rely on the strength of your hand to maintain your grip. The downside is, if you are getting off the bull, for whatever reason, it’s really convenient to take your hand with you. With a suicide wrap, that can be a problem.
I said a silent prayer to whoever would listen, and nodded my readiness to the chuteman.
By that time, I had been riding bulls pretty much full-time, for nearly three years. I’d guess I must have forked well over 1,000 bulls in that time. But I was totally unprepared for the amount of raw power this animal unleashed. He didn’t run out of the chute… he lept! And when he came down on his forelegs, he immediately pivoted 180 degrees, shot his ass up in the air, and his head back, and nearly caved in my skull. I hit his head with my face, but not hard enough to do any serious damage. He then spun again quickly, and stopped. But I kept going, and found my self hanging off his left side, with my right hand still firmly caught in the rope. He spun several times, connecting my head with his horns, before one of the clowns was able to get my hand free. Preacher tossed the clown over his head, and then turned on me.
Of course, I missed most of this, ’cause his horns were a lot harder than my head. I never felt him hook me and throw me twice, and I didn’t feel it when he put his head into me, and plowed a furrow across the arena, depositing me in a heap beneath the fence. He then went back for the clown, and nearly killed him AND his partner. L.J. said he hit the clown’s barrel at a full run, and tossed it nearly forty feet.
I’m really glad I was unconscious, because they told me later at the hospital that it took them nearly three hours of digging and scrubbing to get all the dirt and manure out of my wounds, before they could even start stitching me up. I was in the E.R. for 7 hours, before they moved me into surgery to set my bones and patch up a few ruptured organs. It wasn’t until then that they realized I was in a coma.
That was on Saturday afternoon. I woke up Wednesday morning, when someone was trying to stick a tube up someplace it isn’t supposed to go, and got out a couple of syllables before passing out. The nurse told me later that I had suggested that she could at least kiss me first. I think she was kidding, though. At least, she was kind enough to put some salve on the burn marks on my chest, where they’d used the defibrillator on me.
That evening, L.J. and his girlfriend came by to see me, and told me what had happened. Dianne told me what the bull had done to me, then L.J. started out by apologizing and telling me he owed me a gun.
Dianne had ridden in the ambulance with me, while L.J. was supposed to grab his truck and meet her at the hospital. Instead, he went to MY truck, got my .44 mag., waltzed into the holding pens, and planted one right between ole Preacher’s eyes. He says it took most of the dozen or so deputies that came down on him, to keep the stock contractor from killing him.
He spent that night and most of the next day in jail, and Dianne had to take a cab to the fairgrounds to get the truck, and then she slept in a chair at the hospital. The judge awarded the stock contractor $1,500 for the loss of his bull, and fined L.J. $500 for various things. I never got my gun back… I suppose it’s still locked up in an evidence locker somewhere. After about a week, my Executive Officer from the base showed up, and informed me that it was likely I’d just get Captain’s Mast, instead of the Courtmartial that had originally been proposed. I spent two and a half months in various levels of traction, to give my back a chance to heal, and the day I finally got to go home, I found that the Gas & Electric company had shut off my services for lack of payment!
Disgusted, I went straight to the refrigerator to grab a beer, and realized my mistake as soon as I opened it.
You would be amazed at how much food can decompose in less than three months! Two weeks and several cans of Glade later, the house still had an odor of putrified beandip and fermented coleslaw.
So, all in all, it was just a typical cowboy weekend.