PUEBLO, Colo. – Stock contractor Kenny McElroy believes Mississippi Hippy’s setback during the 2015 Built Ford Tough World Finals with his infected horn may have been a blessing in disguise.
Following a sub-par out at the Finals, McElroy brought Mississippi Hippy to Texas A&M to have the area near where his left horn was removed in August re-evaluated.
It was during the re-evaluation last month that doctors discovered Mississippi Hippy had developed some cancerous tumors on his eyelids. Doctors were able to perform a procedure on Oct. 29 to remove the tumors, as well as help heal the area around where his horn was.
Mississippi Hippy is expected to make a full recovery.
“He is doing good right now,” McElroy said. “We are letting those places on his eyes where he had cancer heal. He had tumors on his eyelids. They burned them off at Texas A&M. We are going to let all that stuff heal up. I thought they were just like eye boogers like a kid. I always flaked that stuff off. You just don’t know what that stuff is. Never realizing what it was, it was kind of fate. When they saw him down there, they found it and we fixed the problem.”
Mississippi Hippy has been playing and running all around the ranch, but McElroy wants to play it extra safe to make sure Hippy is 100 percent ready before beginning his quest at qualifying for the 2016 Built Ford Tough World Finals on Nov. 2-6 in Las Vegas.
McElroy wants to give Hippy at least another two-three months of recovery before bucking him again.
“The plans are to probably break him out at the end of February or early March, just to make sure we have everything healed up and don’t push him to hard,” McElroy said. “We took him to Texas A&M and they trimmed (the horn) all the way down. They resewed it and, shoot, it looks fantastic. You can’t even tell there was anything there. They did a phenomenal job. We are going to give it at least another two or three solid months of good solid healing where we think everything is kosher in there. We are just taking are time with him.”
Mississippi Hippy originally had a procedure on his infected horn in August, which kept him out of competition until September. It was during his return that Eduardo Aparecido rode him for 89 points during the 15/15 Bucking Battle in Allentown, Pennsylvania.
Aparecido was just the second rider in 37 BFTS outs to conquer the 2,000-plus pound bovine athlete, and the first since Kasey Hayes rode the bovine beast for 88.5 points at the 2014 Des Moines, Iowa, BFTS event.
The largest bucking bull in the PBR averages a shade over 44 points per out in in his career.
“He is just so unpredictable in the way and style he bucks,” McElroy said. “At the Finals, he jumped out and turned back to the right so you never really know what he is going to do. He has gotten smarter as he has gotten older. I think he does a lot feeling on what guys do. He used to turn back to the left and make a couple of rounds and then all of a sudden he will turn back and go the other way. I think he is just a phenomenal athlete.”
Mississippi Hippy began 2015 with back-to-back 45-point outs, and he was tied for the high-marked bull in the season-opener in Baltimore with a 2.71-second buckoff of 2004 World Champion Mike Lee.
According to McElroy, it was the first time Mississippi Hippy has been named a high-marked bull.
“You always want your bulls to do good, but when he won those spurs that was probably one of my high points,” McElroy said.
Stock contractors are awarded a pair of spurs when their bull is named a high-marked bull at a BFTS event.
With Mississippi Hippy’s recovery going well, McElroy expects his bull to make a full recovery and be ready for 2016 soon enough.
“He is in prime condition,” McElroy said. “His joints and everything are fine. We will make that determination when it is time. For right now, we have all intentions of bucking him next year and getting him back to the Finals.”
Follow Justin Felisko on Twitter @jfelisko
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