Coleman Proctor considers every run on his palomino ace, Admiral, a gift. After a year on the injured reserve, he got six glorious weeks out of Lena Spark Dunit earlier this year. Sadly, a second related injury this summer sent the talented 13-year-old back to the sidelines for another round of extensive rehab.
“I bought Admiral in 2019, and rode him toward the end of that year and in 2020,” Coleman said. “I hurt him at the end of the season in 2020, and (Dr.) Charlie Buchanan (of Signature Equine Hospital in Stephenville, Texas) operated on him. He spent a year there at the vet.”
A little over a year, actually. Buchanan operated on Admiral in October of 2020, and Proctor didn’t nod his head at a rodeo on him until February of 2022.
“When I bought Admiral, he had a bigger tendon on his right front,” Coleman noted. “But it was never an issue. What got him down is he ended up with a tear in his deep flexor on his right front. Charlie and his crew took amazing care of him at their facility. They tracked his progress, and did everything it took to bring him back.”
Signature Equine Hospital staffer Lane Bargar headed up Admiral’s regular-care routine throughout the process.
“We put him in a cold-water spa daily, and did some hot therapy on him with a smart laser three times a week,” she said. “Admiral needed time to heal more than anything. And he had to have a special shoe on that right front—a pipe shoe—to protect those tendons, so they had time to heal. Then we had to stretch the tendons back out after they did heal.”
How big a deal has Admiral been in Coleman’s career?
“I won Lovington (New Mexico) and Lawton (Oklahoma) on him in 2019,” Proctor said. “This year, we (he and Logan Medlin) won Cody (Wyoming) and Estes Park (Colorado) with me on Admiral, and he helped us have a $15,000 Fourth of July.
“Our timing is just so good with Admiral. I got some of the greatest starts all summer. And he’s not ducking, but he’s not one step too free, either. Admiral’s just a winner. He’s a special animal when it comes to competing and winning. He knows exactly where to be and how to win.”
Coleman was riding Admiral when they placed on their first steer at Cheyenne in July. The second run sent him back to Buchanan.
“I’d just won the second round on him in 3.5 at Nampa (Idaho) the day before,” Coleman said. “We had a strong steer in the second round at Cheyenne. That setup fits Admiral, because he scores and cows. We’re rocking to that steer as hard as we can, and as best as we can figure Admiral overextended. When I went to throw, I felt him change leads.
“I airballed that steer, and now I’m thankful for it. If I’d caught him, Admiral would have been trying to get through it. I pulled him up, looked down and he was three-legged. So I got off and hand-walked him out of the arena.”
Members of the Cheyenne committee then kindly trailered Admiral to the stalls, where a member of Josh Harvey’s Outlaw Equine staff tended to Admiral and gave an immediate-care assist.
“Friends hauled Admiral back to Charlie the next day,” Coleman said. “We’re grateful that he doesn’t seem to have any new tears, but he did tear some scar tissue loose. And there’s some calcification on the tendon. Charlie’s looking into some innovative techniques to remove the calcification from the deep flexor tendon without aggravating the old injury.”
Admiral’s back in the loving care of Bargar, who’s worked for Buchanan since 2015, and has handled rehab at Signature Equine Hospital since 2019.
“Charlie’s figured out how to bring horses back that I didn’t dream would get back to work,” Lane said. “We have a pipe shoe back on Admiral, and it’s crazy how much better he is already. We’ve been doing shockwave therapy once a week, and hopefully that also will help break up the calcification. The swelling has really come down, and Charlie has been doing a bunch of research to be sure we’re doing everything possible to help Admiral.”
Because that’s what Buchanan does. As Proctor put it, “Charlie’s the best, because he never gives up and he’s always on the forefront. Speed’s wife, Jennifer (Williams), gave me a sorrel horse we called Dillinger in 2015. Charlie brought him back from a career-threatening injury, and I rode him at the NFR (National Finals Rodeo) in 2017, then won San Antonio on him in 2018).”
Time will tell how long it takes for Admiral to return to action after the misstep at The Daddy. Thankfully, this head-horse herd runs deep.
“I have my sorrel horse Jesse James that I made the Finals on last year, a new chestnut horse I bought from Mitch Barney a couple days after Admiral got hurt that we call Mills, and the bay Ricky Bobby that belongs to my good friend Shane Boston,” Coleman said. “I’ll be on those three to finish the year out, and I still have my little head-shaking bay, Heisman, sitting at home that I rode at the Finals. I’ll ride him at the Finals and most of the winter again.
“It’s hard to have a head horse by committee. We generally have one or two we ride. But when you’re heading for a guy who’s riding a two-time horse of the year (Medlin’s Drago), it’s important to have plenty of horsepower underneath you.”
Admiral’s absence is rough. But Coleman chooses to be thankful for every single run rather than stay sad about the down times.
“He did a great job, and had us in a spot that I was going to send him home to be turned out,” Proctor said. “He had done his job, and deserved a break. Then he got hurt again. I had six great weeks out of Admiral this year, and I’ve learned that when you have great horses you can win on, you really need to take care of them. I’d love to get six more great weeks out of Admiral next year.”