SACRAMENTO, Calif. – Josh Faircloth has no plans of staying away from the sport of professional bull riding during the next four to six months as he recovers from left ankle surgery.
Faircloth, who underwent successful surgery to repair two broken bones and a torn ligament on Thursday in North Carolina, plans to judge a series of bull riding events in Abingdon, Virginia, as much as he can after doing so for the first time this past Tuesday night.
The 25-year-old originally had plans to win his third consecutive Southern Extreme Bull Riding Association Abingdon Winter Series championship this year after winning a series event two weeks ago, however, he will be putting his bull riding career on hold until he is fully recovered after being stomped on by Crazy Days last weekend during the Oklahoma City Built Ford Tough Series event.
Therefore, he instead took up producer Brad Nelms’ offer to come to the event that is roughly 2 hours and 45 minutes away from his home in Randleman, North Carolina, and serve as a judge.
“I just enjoy the sport of bull riding and being around it,” Faircloth said. “Since I am hurt, it is something I can go do and still be around it and watch all of those guys. It will keep fuel on the fire and that way when I come back I am ready and I am strong.”
Faircloth has always taken an interest to the stock contracting side of the sport and had been interested in giving judging a shot. He said that beyond keeping him motivated for his eventual return to the BFTS, it will allow him to get a glimpse of some of the talent coming through the ranks on the East Coast.
Some past SEBRA champions include Gage Gay (2012), Chad VanAmburg (2009), Brian Canter (2004) and Billy Robinson (1999). Tom Teague used to also supply some stock to past events as well.
“I watch a lot of bulls and I am into the bull side of it,” Faircloth said. “I always thought I could, and that guy called and wanted to know if I wanted to judge while I was hurt. You might have 20 people there and 10 of them have been on tour. It is a good open bull riding that we have been to.”
The experience also opened Faircloth’s eyes to how tough it can be judging an event in the heat of the moment.
“Yeah I respect them judges now,” he said. “It is something they have to call right then and there, and to write it down on the paper as they see it and not worry about what anyone else thinks about it. You just have to write what you see and the way you feel about it. I have been around enough bull ridings where I felt I could get a hang of it. No one was complaining much about it, except Gage (Gay).
“I marked him really low, but his bull sucked and the other guy had him marked to win. I thought his bull was terrible, but we laughed about that on the way home.”
He later added before laughing, “Hey, you don’t get them Gage Gay points around me. I ain’t cutting you no slack.”
Faircloth had expected only to be out eight weeks because of the injury before his surgery revealed he had also suffered the ligament tear. The 5-foot-10 bull rider said the break didn’t hurt too badly on Friday night inside Chesapeake Energy Arena. It is why he at first waved off sports medicine as he tried to walk off under his own power.
After three steps his ankle crumbled from underneath him and did a face plant into the unfriendly dirt.
“I just turned around and looked at them and said, ‘Never mind, it is broken. I am going to need ya’ll to carry me,’” Faircloth recalled.
During his hang up on Crazy Days, Jesse Byrne jumped onto the back of the bovine athlete to rip Faircloth free. Faircloth admitted that things could have been much worse if not for the effort of all three bullfighters – Byrne, Frank Newsom and Shorty Gorham.
Faircloth had received a couple of blows to the face from Crazy Days’ horns moments before his ankle was snapped.
“Them bullfighters are the best,” Faircloth said. “That is the reason I can tie my hand in there just as tight and get my rope sticky because you know they are there with you. Just like in that video, you see Frank and Jesse constantly in there trying to get it. I don’t know what they make, but I am sure it ain’t enough.”
Faircloth, who had aspired to qualify for THE AMERICAN, is eyeing the summer break for his return and hopes he can start getting on horseback shortly after he spends the next six weeks completely off his ankle.
“It will all work out,” he said. “I just need to stay positive and stay motivated.”
Follow Justin Felisko on Twitter @jfelisko.
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