Unlucky Break

photo by Matt Cohen / Cowboy Journal

photo by Matt Cohen / Cowboy Journal

My family is really excited I made the National Finals and pretty bummed out I broke my leg. That’s just how it goes, and they know that.

by J.J. Elshere

Last week, I was trying to stay in the top fifteen, while a couple of guys, including Isaac Diaz, were trying to push ahead of me.

Down in New Braunfels, Texas, I won second, but Isaac won first. I was glad to have three rodeos left—in Mitchell, South Dakota; Omaha, Nebraska; and San Bernardino, California. Isaac was going to all of them, too. As good as he’d been riding, he’d be tough to beat.

On Friday night I was back in my home state of South Dakota at the Corn Palace Challenge in Mitchell. I drew Korkow Rodeos’ Broken Angel. She’s a nice horse and really bucked. Around eight seconds into the ride, she hit the fence. My right foot hooked one of the uprights. She dragged me a ways, and my leg bent backwards. When she came off the fence, I tried to lift my leg and knew something was broke.

I didn’t wait around for the pickup men. I bucked myself off, making sure not to land on my feet.

Turns out I made the whistle. The judges gave me 84.5. But I didn’t find any of that out until later.

A couple other bronc riders packed me out of the arena. One of the guys gave me a ride to the local hospital. At the emergency room, they said I broke my tibia and fibula a few inches above the ankle. They splinted my leg, and my mother-in-law drove me to Rapid City, nearly 300 miles west of Mitchell. The next morning, Saturday, I had surgery. The doctors put plates on the bones and got everything all pieced together.

When I left the arena the night before, I was winning first. I ended up winning third and getting a check for $2,680. That dang sure helped, since I wasn’t going to Omaha or San Bernardino.

When the season ended a few days later, I was still in fifteenth place. Isaac was only around a thousand dollars behind me.

My family is really excited I made the National Finals and pretty bummed out I broke my leg. That’s just how it goes, and they know that.

The good news is that the surgeon is pretty confident that my leg will heal in time for me to compete in Vegas. He said if I take care of myself and do things right, I should be good to go in around eight weeks. The NFR starts in nine weeks.

I’m supposed to keep my leg up and iced and avoid walking on it. Eat right, drink right. Do healthy-guy things. You bet I’m doing that and more—everything possible to recover.

The last time I made the NFR was in 2010. I turn forty on December 5, the day of Round One. I plan to be in Vegas on a bronc to celebrate.

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