Four months have passed since the scary January 16 road accident on the outskirts of Stephenville, Texas, that totaled Kory Koontz’s rig and killed his heel horse Rudy. We’re happy to report that the other horse in the trailer, Remix, has now beat the odds, made a complete recovery and returned to full duty in the roping arena.
“It took awhile, but Remix is back at it—100 percent,” said 22-time Wrangler National Finals Rodeo team roper and two-time BFI champ Koontz, who lives in Stephenville.
The nasty wreck happened that rainy winter day about two miles south of Stephenville on two-lane Highway 281. According to Koontz, a vehicle came over into his lane, and he swerved left to avoid a head-on collision.
“When I saw that other person coming my way, I was hoping the driver would pick her head up and get back in her lane,” Koontz remembers clearly. “That didn’t happen. If I’d gone to my bar ditch to the right, that other vehicle was going to hit my truck and trailer. If I stayed straight, we were going to hit head-on. So I went to the left to avoid a collision. Of course I’ve replayed that split-second decision over and over in my head since it happened. I still think I made the only right choice, because those other two options were way worse. By the grace of God, no people got hurt.”
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Sadly, Rudy—who was only 10—died at the scene. Dr. Dustin Dorris of Stephenville Equine Sports Medicine was called to the crash, where he administered emergency services. He put Rudy down to put an end to his pain and not prolong his inevitable death. Remix, who’s 12 and is the horse Kory rode at his last NFR in 2018, survived. But he’s had a long road back. Remix stayed at Stephenville Equine for about 10 days after the accident.
“Remix hurt his whole left side,” said Kory, who’s owned the lifelong outlaw since he was a yearling. “He had some cuts on his face, and broke the orbital bone above his left eye. Dr. Dorris gave Remix IV fluids and antibiotics, and stitched him up. His injuries turned out to be worse than we thought. The real problem was his left shoulder. Remix was three-legged.
“After I realized how crippled he was, I gave Remix about a 50-50 chance of coming back full force. I had high hopes, and was believing good things would come out of a tough situation. But I was also realistic, and knew he might be done. I knew I just needed to be patient and wait, so that’s what I did.”
Even something as simple as lowering his head to eat was a tough task for Remix at first.
“I feed my horses in a tub on the ground, because horses are grazers and that seems the most natural,” Kory said. “I would pour his grain in his tub, and it would take Remix a few minutes to move his front end around to where he could actually reach down to the tub to eat his grain. You could tell it hurt him. He was just so sore all over.
“One day, I thought, ‘I’ll just lead him around to see if it’ll help him loosen up.’ When I started to speed up to try and get him to trot, he was dragging his left front toe and stumbling. I stopped, and thought, ‘Wow. He needs some time to rest.’ So I just left him turned out in a little trap with grass in it, so he could move around as much as he wanted. I fed him twice a day, but that was it.”
Dr. Josh Harvey at Outlaw Equine in Decatur, Texas, injected Remix’s shoulder. Meanwhile, Kory bought a yet-unnamed 11-year-old sorrel horse to bolster his herd a little bit.
“Remix is a really good horse,” Kory said. “He’s not in the same category as the truly great horses I’ve owned—Iceman, Jackyl and Switchblade—but not having him for a while and having to borrow horses while he was out sure made me appreciate him a lot more.”
Kory’s been roping on Remix about a month now.
“Remix spent a couple weeks at Outlaw Equine with Josh getting fit on the AquaTred and walker,” Kory said. “They put him through a pretty good routine every day to get him fit and strong before I started riding him. Once I got him back to the house, I spent about a week riding him around and long trotting him. Then I roped some slow steers on him, before finally speeding things up again. I do have him on some of Josh’s supplements (Ultimate Oil and Game Changer), but he’s felt great through all of it with no Bute. My first jackpot back was in Brock, Texas, at Austin Robertson’s weekly jackpot.
“Remix isn’t perfect as far as how he works as a heel horse. There are some things I wish he did better. But I really do like him, and because I made him myself and trained him I know every little quirk. He fits me, and I feel confident when I compete on him.
“I look at the wreck now as a really unfortunate thing that happened. It was just something I had to overcome, so I can move on. I lost a horse and a rig, but life goes on. This is a happy ending to a sad story. So I’m thankful for that.”