By: Justin Felisko
February 11, 2017
KANSAS CITY, Mo. – H.D. Page was quite sure he was unloading 2015 World Champion Bull SweetPro’s Long John for the last time when the D&H Cattle Company trailer pulled into the Pages’ Ardmore, Oklahoma, ranch, following the 2016 Built Ford Tough World Finals.
H.D. and his father, Dillon, had done everything they could to try and get Long John one more world title and let him retire on top. Long John, who dealt with on-going foot issues for the latter half of the season, wound up tying with SweetPro’s Bruiser and Pearl Harbor for the 2016 World Champion Bull title.
Yet then H.D. watched Long John run off the back of the trailer.
“I had full intentions to retire him,” Page said last month. “I had full intentions of retiring him after the Finals and, actually, when I let him off the trailer he run and threw his tail over his back and acted like he was a calf that had just seen his first green pasture. He moved and acted better after the Finals than he had in three or four months prior.”
Page kept an eye on Long John and even bucked him a month later at the 2016 Wrangler National Finals Rodeo where he bucked off Built Ford Tough Series veteran Shane Proctor for a 46-point bull score.
Once again, Long John returned home with more pep in his step, and Page decided maybe his bull does have another season left in him.
Therefore, Page brought Long John to Oklahoma City and Long John picked up a 45.75-point bull score for bucking off Mason Lowe in 1.75 seconds.
The 6-year-old bovine superstar showed his traditional long and forceful kick that has proved fitful for 31 challengers at the BFTS level.
“I had him a little bit heavy and I was a little concerned how he would perform,” Page said. “Shoot, he bucked good. We have been cutting his rations back the last couple of weeks (before Oklahoma City) and he has lightened up a little bit. He has gotten a little freerer moving. I am happy with his performance. I would like to have seen him get around there and see what he would have done after a couple of rounds. I don’t know what he is going to do when he goes to really planting and pushing off if there will be any problem or not.”
Long John is headlining Saturday night’s 15/15 Bucking Battle at the Kansas City Invitational, presented by Express Employment Professionals, when he takes on world leader Jess Lockwood.
Fans can watch the matchup exclusively on CBS national television Sunday at noon ET.
Lockwood said Long John’s resurgence is a great credit to the Pages.
“Yeah, for a bull to be foundered and come back and be able to walk – let alone be able to buck – and still be the rankest around is unbelievable,” Lockwood said.
The last three times Long John was ridden resulted in a 90-point ride. If Lockwood and Long John have their normal trips, a fourth 90-plus ride is a high possibility.
“He’s like a drop barrel that turns back, so get that front and he’ll ride good,” Lockwood said.
Page has been giving Long John some anti-inflammatories to help with recovery and swelling in his feet, and so far that has been helping.
“It is both of his front feet,” Page said. “That is the biggest issue. One is worse than the other. There is a bump on his hoof wall that is abnormal. “I think he is getting better. As that foot grows out, there is some healing going on in there. He is moving a lot better.”
Page has closely been monitoring Long John this year. In the past, Long John has competed at various rodeos and the NFR.
The longtime stock contractor plans on limiting Long John’s outs this year and focusing only on BFTS competitions.
“I’m not going to press my luck,” Page said. “I haven’t really sat down and studied the schedule, but I am going to try and get him qualified for the World Championship Bull Race. I am going to try and keep him as close as we can to home. He will get eight trips on the Built Ford Tough Series and that is all he will get. I will pick and choose the events I think are best suited for him and we will go from there.”
Follow Justin Felisko on Twitter @jfelisko
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