I can’t remember the last time I missed the BFI, but I won’t be there this year. My son Bo’s getting married the first week in June, and I’m planning to get my right knee replaced as soon as possible after that. So I’m going to be taking this summer off for the first time in forever. I’ve been fighting this deal with my knee for four or five years now, and I’ve just kept putting it off because there’s never a good time to stop and get it done. The time has come. I’m out of options. I’ve been hobbling around like a pegleg long enough. I’m not sure why, but it seems like the last 10 years or so have been crazy. It seems like it’s been one comeback after another for me, between cutting my thumb off, my knee being completely worn out and my head injury last November, which kept me from roping at my 27th NFR (Wrangler National Finals Rodeo presented by Polaris RANGER).
Things happen for a reason, and through all the tests and trials the one bright side is that it seems my story has been inspirational for a lot of people. I wouldn’t have chosen to be the guy who had to go through all the comebacks, but it’s the way it went. Warriors have battle scars, and I’ve had a lot of them.
I still feel young and I still feel competitive. I want to work hard and do whatever it takes to stay at the highest level as long as I can. But there’s just no getting around this knee anymore. It’s time to bite the bullet and get it done. I’m excited about the idea of getting back in shape after the surgery. I can’t be 100 percent as it is, and I’ve been having to limit myself because of my knee. No more.
This is the first time that I can remember when I’ll be home for the summer, living life like a normal person. My mind is so relaxed, because I’m not having to worry about all the summer hustle and jamming around.
I’m really looking forward to taking some time off, so I don’t have to hurt all the time anymore. It’s been like walking around with a nail in my boot for years and years. When I get off my horse it’s painful. I’m at a different place in my life now. I’ve always eaten, slept and breathed roping. My kids are grown now. My health hasn’t been great, with all the setbacks. I’ve kept putting out the effort, but my health hasn’t let me be exactly what I want and expect.
I’m excited about getting healthy and refocused. I’m sure I’ll be back to roping the dummy right after getting my knee replaced. It’s amazing how fast you’re back up and at it after a knee replacement these days. I won’t be able to ride a horse, so there’ll be zero roping for at least two months. That’ll be different for me after all these years of pressing so hard.
I started roping in the PRCA in 1980, so it’s been 36 years of zero time off and never taking a break. Roping’s been my life and I obviously love it. I won’t be forgetting about it, that’s for sure. Roping’s been my hobby, my living and everything else. I can’t and won’t erase all the years and memories. Roping is like the sun coming up and going down for me. But getting my knee fixed will give me a few months to stop and smell the roses. I’ve always stayed so motivated on my roping. But I will step back. I’ve put my health on the back burner grinding it through this knee injury, just trying to keep going and get by. It’ll be so great not to hurt so much. I’m looking forward to getting back in shape after I rehab my knee. I’ve been pretty limited on exercise, and it’s been a struggle just to go catch my horses and clean my pens. I can feel my knee crunching with every step. I can hardly wait to get the surgery behind me.