By: Justin Felisko
February 16, 2016
PUEBLO, Colo. – Mississippi Hippy blinked his eyes, swatted his tail back and forth and let every last pound hang over the bucking chutes in the Scottrade Center on Sunday afternoon.
Stock contractor Kenny McElroy (K-Bar-C Bucking Bulls) then leaned over Hippy’s backside and began to adjust the bulls flank strap with butterflies fluttering all inside him.
It had been a long, long road back for Mississippi Hippy. The last three and a half months saw multiple surgeries and procedures to try and get the PBR’s largest bovine athlete back on the playing field following two bouts of cancerous tumors in his eyelids.
Like any proud father watching his son step back onto the football field, McElroy had those same emotions running through his body.
“He has a lot of fans and it is kind of like watching your kid to go play football and he has been injured or something,” McElroy said. “Being a coach and seeing a kid that has that kind of drive to play the sport they love and to have an athlete like Hippy, he loves what he does, and to see him being able to come back and do that and finish his career strong is a big compliment to him. We are quite excited.”
It is why McElroy was all smiles following unknown rookie Nevada Newman’s 87.75-point ride on Mississippi Hippy this past weekend.
The fact that Mississippi Hippy, who was marked 43 points, was back competing in the PBR following multiple offseason surgeries after the 2015 Built Ford Tough World Finals was enough to be proud of.
Mississippi Hippy was first brought to Texas A&M after the Finals to have the area near where his left horn was removed in August re-evaluated. It was during the re-evaluation that doctors discovered Mississippi Hippy had developed some tumors on his eyelids that if left untreated would threaten the bull’s eyesight in a year or two.
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 had been.
However, towards the end of December the tumors reappeared on Hippy’s eyelids. At that point, McElroy reached out to his local veterinarian Mark Burroughs to perform an additional procedure on Dec. 22.
This round, according to McElroy, Burroughs decided to freeze and remove the tumors to prevent them from returning again.
“The doc came back and gave him the OK to go two weeks ago,” McElroy said. “The cancer tumors are gone and they healed up fantastic. Matter of fact, his eyes look huge now. We are real happy. He was really fired up. He is part of the family. He is like one of the kids. You do whatever it takes to help him. We said a long time ago if it came down to it where the tumors were bad enough to where he would never buck again then we would have retired him and that would be the end of it.”
Mississippi Hippy weighed in at a “slim” 2,315 pounds when McElroy and company bucked him in the practice pen two weeks ago.
“He is pretty hard as a rock,” McElroy said. “We have been working him there at the house. You look at the frame of him. He is so massive. He is tall, long. He is big boned. He carries a lot of mass. As far as his joints and everything, doc and I did X-rays and everything and his joints look fantastic. We have gone about it the right way. He has a complete 100 percent bill of health and we are happy.”
Newman felt all 2,300 pounds and more inside the bucking chute and throughout his 8-second ride.
“Oh, it was crazy,” Newman said. “He was definitely big and strong and yanking on me. My rope slipped through my fingertips about half way through and I just wanted to bear down and ride that sucker bad.”
Mississippi Hippy has now been ridden three times in 38 outs. He averages just less than 44 points per out as he continues his fifth full season on the BFTS.
Two-time World Champion Justin McBride said during the CBS Sports Network broadcast, “Hippy had his day. This is the same trip we see him sling guys out of the arena on him. Nevada Newman just rides him perfect. He never gave him a chance. This is a huge strong bull. Nevada Newman never gave him a chance to pull on him. That is a great ride.”
The goal now is to keep working Mississippi Hippy back into the groove.
McElroy is hoping he will be able to take Mississippi Hippy to the Choctaw Casino Iron Cowboy, powered by Kawasaki, in two weeks for his next out.
Outside of the Built Ford Tough World Finals, there is no greater event to have your bulls compete at than Iron Cowboy, McElroy said.
“We were going to take it easy,” McElroy said. “I was hoping to take him to Iron Cowboy, but I haven’t talked to (PBR Director of Livestock Cody) Mr. Lambert yet if he has decided on Arlington yet. Arlington is such a fun deal. It is a privilege to get to take bulls there. It is basically like a Finals. Last year, we were fortunate enough to have five bulls there and I think we are good enough to have five or six more this coming year.
“Things are looking up for K-Bar-C.”
Follow Justin Felisko on Twitter @jfelisko
© 2016 PBR Inc. All rights reserved.