Instead of enjoying his 2003 world bull riding championship, Terry Don West has spent much of 2004 at his home in Henryetta, Okla., hosting team ropings inside his spacious indoor arena.
He injured his thumb on his riding hand during the ninth round of the Wrangler National Finals Rodeo and it simply hasn't healed.
"I went to a few winter rodeos and it still hurt," said West, who also owns the 1996 world bull riding title. "I haven't been on a bull in two or three months. I'm going to Claremore (Okla.) this weekend for a trial run.
Claremore is about 70 miles from Henryetta.
"The last time I got on a bull, I wasn't on more than a second and couldn't move my thumb. I have never experienced anything like this before. The Justin Sportsmedicine Team said I needed to get an MRI to see if the ligaments are torn from the bone; if it is I might have to have surgery. Right now it doesn't hurt. I can do a lot of stuff, like move hay. We'll just have to wait and see."
Last year, West wrapped up the world title with his ninth round 90.5-point ride aboard Andrews' Slim. He finished a storybook season with $211,879, leading nearly from start to finish. A major win at RodeoHouston in March he won $75,000 in prize money and bonuses provided the catalyst for the rest of his remarkable campaign.
With his world title, West became the second oldest bull rider to win a gold buckle at age 38. The late Freckles Brown won his world title at age 42 in 1962.
If things go well this weekend, West said he might start competing on a regular schedule, although qualifying for the Wrangler NFR will be a long shot.
"I don't know," he said. "It's over halftime right now. I'd really have to do well and get hot. I'd have to win the Xtreme Bulls and be hot over the Fourth of July."
If things don't go well, West likely will see a doctor to discuss his options.
Until then, he plans to continue holding team ropings at his house. Last weekend, 80 teams showed up to compete during a one-day competition.
"I've been flagging, doing some judging," West said. "It's a truck series and things have gone well."
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