The expression “Good things come in small packages” fits JoJo LeMond’s dynamite head horse, Freckles Wilson, who he calls “Bull,” to a T.
“He’s probably 14.2 [hands tall] and probably weighs a thousand pounds,” LeMond said. “He’s a little bitty guy.”
Considering his size, why was Bull trained to be a head horse? “That I don’t know,” admitted LeMond. “I think he was a blown up calf roping horse, and then they started heading on him.”
But, it’s his try and grit that made the training all worth it. While heading turned out to be a fit for Bull, the Freckles Playboy and Mr. Gun Smoke bred horse is a fit for LeMond’s style.
“I’ve rode a lot of cow horses and I like a smaller horse,” LeMond said. “And, I like a horse that’s really broke, and a horse that’s really fast-footed. He’s what I like—everything in one—except I’d like him to be a little heavier. Most horses his size will never hold up, and why he has, I couldn’t tell you.”
Bull is still going strong considering that he is now 21 years old and has a list of significant injuries.
“When I bought him, he had navicular,” LeMond said. “And he’s torn both tendon sheaths on his back legs. He tore a suspensory ligament on his right front leg. He’s just got so much heart, so much try that whenever you get on him, you can’t even tell he’s sore.”
Trevor Brazile agrees. The 21-time World Champion rode Bull at some winter rodeos years ago, and describes him this way, “He’s just a winner. Small horse, big heart. He’s a tough sucker, number one. And he’s a winner, number two.”
In fact, Bull proved all of this to be true this January when LeMond entered the Denver qualifier. Bull had been turned out to pasture since 2010 when LeMond retired. LeMond rode a different horse to rope his first steer, but quickly realized that he needed Bull back after the other horse didn’t work well.
“We decided to go catch him [Bull] out of the pasture,” LeMond said. “He had about 4 inches of hair and about 40 pounds of belly on him. He worked like he had never had a day off.”
When it comes to setups—short or long scores—Bull doesn’t care. LeMond compares him to a racehorse because he can run so fast.
“He’s the best horse I’ve ever rode at Cheyenne, Salinas, Pueblo, Pecos… everywhere they score them a really long ways,” LeMond said. “He catches steers so fast. And then he’s outstanding in short scores too, like at the Thomas and Mack. I set the world record on him once (2009 WNFR Round 9, 3.4 seconds) and tied it on him once (2009, Corpus Christi 3.5 with Randon Adams), and then Chad Masters beat it.” Needless to say, Bull is everything LeMond looks for in a head horse, “He scores absolutely awesome. He runs really hard. He separates from the steer good. And, he faces good.”
LeMond has known all along that Bull was a nice horse, but back in 2008, he remembers trading for the horse that was “a little outlaw” and hard to get in the box.
“His name was Bull**** when I got him,” LeMond laughed. “It’s shortened up to Bull, because we didn’t want to say that. I’ve always heard it was bad luck to change a horse’s name so I just shortened it up.”
Although Bull is outstanding in the arena, he still has his quirks.
“He will untie or unlock any gate. There is no knot that you can tie that will keep him from getting loose.” LeMond continued, “And if he gets loose, everything on the property and all the other horses are going to be out as well.”
It doesn’t end there either. LeMond also said you can put his hay 100 yards away from his water bucket, and he’ll carry his hay and stick it in his bucket before he eats it.
“I don’t understand what makes him do that, but he does little things like that. He’s a weird horse.” And while most horses want to buddy with other horses, Bull likes to be by himself. Laughing, LeMond said, “He’s kinda like me, he’s a loner.”
“I can’t express enough how that horse has made me what I am, and he has built the property that my wife and I live on. If it wasn’t for him, we wouldn’t have what we have. It’s just been truly a blessing to own that horse, and to get to experience having something like him.”
And as for replacing him? LeMond isn’t quite sure how he’ll pull that one off.
“I’ve been looking for horses all year and riding different horses and it’s amazing how much a horse plays into what we do and how hard it is to win without that horse. It’s truly amazing what athletes they are and I don’t think they get enough publicity and credit for what they go through and how awesome they are.”
Bull By Jojo LeMond
Feed: Equine Senior, Alfalfa Supplements: None
Vet therapies: Injections, Previcox as needed
Saddle: Faith Saddlery by Jeff Anderberg Saddle Pad: CSI
boots: Ed Galemba (fronts) and Legacy (hinds) Bit: Sonny Silva