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Wyoming cowboy J.R. Vezain suffers severe back injury

Posted at 8:14 PM, Sep 24, 2018

(PRCA media release)

COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. – The ProRodeo Sports News has learned that bareback rider J.R. Vezain suffered a back injury Saturday, Sept. 22, while competing at the Pasadena (Texas) Livestock Show & Rodeo.

Bronc Riding Nation shared a Facebook post on Sunday reading, “Please join Bronc Riding Nation in lifting JR Vezain, his surgical team and family in prayer today. Vezain’s back was injured last night when a horse flipped on him.”

An updated Bronc Riding Nation post on Sunday revealed, “according to NFR Secretary Sunni Deb Backstrom, JR Vezain is out of surgery after having vertebrae fused. His surgical team is optimistic about feeling returning in his legs when the swelling subsides.”

Vezain is 14th in the Sept. 24 PRCA | RAM World Standings with $78,376 earned this season. He has qualified for the Wrangler NFR five times – 2012-14, and 2016-17.

A GoFundMe account has been set up for Vezain at

Also, steer wrestler Billy Bugenig, a four-time qualifier for the Wrangler National Finals Rodeo – 2010-12 and 2016 – suffered a season-ending torn biceps tendon in his left arm while competing at the Santa Ynez (Calif.) Valley Wine Country Rodeo, Sept. 15.

Fellow steer wrestler Rowdy Parrott, who made his Wrangler NFR debut in 2017, finishing 12th in the world standings, had season-ending surgery Sept. 19 to repair the anterior cruciate ligament in his left knee. Dr. Tandy Freeman performed the surgery.

Bugenig clocked a 4.5-second run when he hurt his biceps and took third, but when the run was done he knew something was wrong.

“It was a weird deal, and it (his arm) didn’t feel right,” said Bugenig, 37. “I started feeling around and I couldn’t feel that tendon. I went and had an MRI done and Tandy (Freeman) did surgery on me Sept. 21 (in Dallas).”

Bugenig, of Ferndale, Calif., was having a solid season. He was 19th in the Sept. 24 PRCA | RAM World Standings with $60,663. Nick Guy was 15th in those standings with $70,499. The PRCA regular season ends Sept. 30.

“I was a little ways behind, but I still had a chance (to get in the Top 15),” Bugenig said. “I was looking forward to these last couple of weeks, but this is just part of the game. It’s disappointing, but I will get healed up and see what happens.”

Bugenig expects to be sidelined for up to six months.

Parrott said he initially hurt his knee at Rodeo Corpus Christi (Texas) in April. He was 26th in the latest world standings with $48,469.

“I kept rodeoing on it and it just kept getting worse and worse, so I just went and had the surgery done,” he said.

Parrott expects to be out of action for 4½ months.

“I think this will make me come back stronger next year,” Parrott said. “I’ve been fighting this knee injury, and I’m looking forward to coming back strong and making the Finals again.”