A torn deep flexor ten­don side­lined TG’s best mount.

Spin to Win Rodeo - - Departments - By Ken­dra San­tos


last steer Travis Graves heeled on his sor­rel su­per­star was to seal the deal with Chad Masters on the team rop­ing av­er­age ti­tle at the 2017 Wran­gler Na­tional Fi­nals Rodeo. He’s hop­ing hard that the next rodeo steer he runs on Manny will be at this month’s 2018 NFR.

Graves bought Manny—who’s named af­ter his last owner, Manny Egusquiza— six years ago, when Egusquiza de­cided to switch ends and head. Graves has been miss­ing Manny, who’s 18 now, all year long.

“I don’t know for sure if it was that last run at the NFR last year, or some­thing that hap­pened over the years, in the trailer on the way home, or when we got home. But I haven’t been able to ride him since that 10th-round steer,” said Graves, who this month will rope at his 10th NFR in 11 years.

The di­ag­no­sis, which was made by Graves’ vet—Char­lie Buchanan of Bra­zos Val­ley Equine Hos­pi­tal in Stephenville, Texas—was a torn deep flexor ten­don in his left hind leg, with some ad­di­tional dam­age to some of the sup­port struc­tures in the ten­don sheath. They tried rest and other less in­va­sive pro­ce­dures first.

“I had hoped that af­ter some time off I could ride Manny at The Amer­i­can,” Graves said. “But he didn’t get any bet­ter. So it was ei­ther surgery or re­tire­ment, and even if I re­tired him I wanted him to be com­fort­able in the pas­ture.”

Buchanan op­er­ated on Manny the end of July.

“We went in arthro­scop­i­cally, and cleaned up the deep flexor ten­don, ten­don sheath, and sup­port struc­tures that


were in­jured, then in­jected him with stem cells,” Buchanan said. “We have a re­hab fa­cil­ity five miles from the clinic, so we then moved him over there, and put him through the re­hab process, in­clud­ing ther­a­peu­tic laser treat­ment, the Aqua­tred, tread­mill, and ex­er­cise in the round­pen.

“We brought Manny back slowly, and watched him pretty closely with weekly ex­ams, and an ul­tra­sound ev­ery cou­ple of weeks. He be­came a clinic fa­vorite, es­pe­cially with the re­hab peo­ple. Manny came back right by the book—maybe even 30 days ahead of sched­ule.”

Graves has spent most of this year aboard a brown horse he calls Chip, whom he bought from Joseph Har­ri­son af­ter last year’s NFR. Graves—who hadn’t yet run his first steer back on Manny as of press time the first week of Novem­ber—plans to take both Chip and Manny to Ve­gas.

“To tell you how much con­fi­dence I have in Manny, I haven’t roped a steer on him since the 10th round last year, and it would not faze me to ride in there and rope one on him in the first round this year,” said Graves, who’s had Manny home in Mor­gan Mill since re­turn­ing from the North­west run in Septem­ber. “If I had to rope one steer for $1 mil­lion dol­lars, there’s not a horse I’d rather be on than Manny. Horses of his cal­iber are ev­ery­thing.

“Darn near ev­ery­thing I have has been won at that horse—The Strait, The Amer­i­can, the USTRC Fi­nals, all in one year in 2015. Then win­ning the NFR av­er­age on him last year. I’ve won more money on Manny than any horse I’ve ever had. I hon­estly didn’t know if I’d ever get to rope on him again. But he’s as sound now as he’s been in a long, long time. He feels amaz­ing.”

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