LAS VEGAS – As odd as it may seem for a 2,000-pound bucking bull to be used to the poolside party scene in Las Vegas, that is exactly the case when it comes to three-time World Champion Bull Bushwacker.
In fact, the legendary bovine athlete was a star of a commercial filmed poolside at the MGM to help promote the 2014 Built Ford Tough World Finals.
During the commercial, Bushwacker is actually denied entry to a pool party in Las Vegas.
Now, Bushwacker is returning to Las Vegas for this weekend’s Cowboy Spring Break — the first time in the city since retiring following last year’s Built Ford Tough World Finals.
This weekend, he won’t have to worry about his I.D. being turned down in Las Vegas as in the commercial.
Instead, Bushwacker is welcoming fans to a pool party at the South Point Hotel, Casino and Spa on Saturday from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m.
Coincidentally, he will be joined by Matt Triplett, one of the riders that ditched him jokingly in the commercial, and Reese Cates.
Bushwacker will also appear at an autograph session featuring the Top 50 bull riders in the world Sunday at the MGM Resorts Village, inside the Monster Energy Cowboy Festival, from 3 to 4:30 p.m.
Cowboy Spring Break is highlighted by Last Cowboy Standing on Friday and Saturday night – the final Built Ford Tough Series event of the first half.
“I thought it was going to be great when the PBR contacted me,” owner Julio Moreno said. “I said, ‘Great.’”
Moreno said he was bombarded by texts, phone calls and messages when it was announced last week that Bushwacker was returning to Las Vegas.
Many people thought that Bushwacker was coming out of retirement.
“I couldn’t believe the people when they heard he was going to Vegas,” Moreno said. “When the PBR put it out, the calls I got thinking I was bucking him again. I was like, ‘No, no no. He is going to just lay by the pool with everybody.’
“I can’t believe all of the people that jumped on it.”
Moreno remembers how much fun he, Bushwacker and the late Kent Cox had while filming the commercial for World Finals.
Like always, Bushwacker loved the attention and being the star of the day amid the TV cameras and bikini-clad models.
He also had his prima-donna moments too, Moreno said with a laugh.
“He wasn’t bad,” Moreno said. “He got tired and we had to bring in some grain and calm him down. He was good. He would get a little antsy. If you start talking to him, he would settle down.”
Bushwacker has had plenty of fun in post-retirement, as Moreno has turned him out on various cows on his ranch.
Although, things weren’t so bright for Moreno on Easter Sunday when he was involved in a vicious horse wreck on his Oakdale, California, ranch that resulted in multiple fractures in his neck.
Moreno spent three days in the hospital following a nine-hour surgery, which involved fusing together two of his vertebrae in his neck, before returning home on April 8.
“I was trying to open the gate and I noticed the cows being real mean to each other,” Moreno recalled. “I was trying to close the gate on horseback and as I did that, I went to close it and I must have hit my horse and he jumped up a six or five-foot incline. When he did that, he flipped completely over fast and it about killed me.
“Truthfully, I am lucky I am walking or doing anything. I should be paralyzed from the waist down or the neck down.”
Moreno, who has his next follow-up appointment June 3, has still not been cleared to remove his neck brace or to do physical activity, but every morning he still heads out to the pasture to check on his animals from a distance.
It hasn’t been easy for Moreno, and Bushwacker has done his part to try and cheer up his owner.
Bushwacker will normally take a break from his flirtatious banter out in the pasture to greet Moreno whenever the stock contractor makes his way to the outskirts of the pasture.
“I am stir crazy,” Moreno said. “I will get up in the morning and I can go into the field and call Bushwacker, and he is out with the girls, and he will lift his head up and come to me.
“It’s been good to look out the window and see all my cows and bulls out there. I have had more people come by and say, ‘This is something special to go by your road here and see the three-time World Champion out there with these cows.”
Moreno credits his wife, Kindra, for being a rock through the past six weeks and Julio has been extremely thankful for the various people that have helped him out with bulls or tasks around the house, such as Riley Samford, Dylan Hice and Allie Jordan.
He was also quick to thank everyone who sent messages and prayers his way throughout his stay in the hospital and his recovery.
“There were a couple of times I damn near wanted to cry to myself,” Moreno admitted. “If it wasn’t for them, I would probably quit or sell out. I have some good help here.”
After a scary moment over six weeks ago, Moreno will return to Las Vegas with a big smile on his face and one of his best friend’s beside him.
“It will be special,” Moreno concluded. “Bushwacker is a proud son of a buck.”
Follow Justin Felisko on Twitter @jfelisko
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