Emergency surgery saves famous bucking horse Bugs Bunny
December 23, 2010
Bugs Bunny, one of professional rodeo’s rough stock super stars, is back on the J Bar J Ranch near Circle, MT, after being saved from life-threatening colic with emergency surgery by a team of veterinarians and technicians at the Copper Spring Ranch (CSR) Equine Sports Medicine Center near Bozeman, MT.
The famous 10-year-old stallion was among nine bareback horses and four saddle broncs scheduled to buck at the December 2010 Wrangler National Finals Rodeo (NFR) at the Thomas and Mack Stadium in Las Vegas from Sparky and Marlene Dreesen’s J Bar J.
Bugs Bunny, however, didn’t make it to the Finals.
The day before the stock was going to be loaded for the trip, Bugs was diagnosed with severe colic by Circle veterinarian Dr. Marilyn Howell, DVM. Instead of heading to Vegas with the rest of the horses, Bugs Bunny was unloaded at the Copper Spring Ranch clinic and underwent an operation for colic by surgeon Dr. Thomas Jakob, DVM, of Bozeman, along with assistance from CSR’s Alan Goldhahn, DVM, and Lisa Baller, DVM at 2:30 a.m. on Thanksgiving morning. The support team that worked for hours also included vet tech Joani Smith and ranch trainer Teri High.
“Dr. Howell did a great job of treating Bugs Bunny prior to the referral for surgery,” attending veterinarian Goldhahn said. “Bugs Bunny had a small colon obstruction with tremendous large colon distention. Surgery entailed removing the gas, emptying the large colon of ingesta and eliminating the obstruction. The horse came through the surgery like a champ and never looked back.”
When the Dreesens returned from the Finals they loaded Bugs Bunny back on the semi-trailer with the rest of the NFR stock for the trip back to Circle.
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By then Bugs Bunny was full of energy and back to feeling his literal oats.
“When we unloaded at home, Bugs Bunny acted like he wanted to go to a rodeo,” Dreesen said. “We are planning on retiring him after the NFR this year and just keeping him as a stud, but I feel he got gypped. This was supposed to be his second trip to the National Finals and they had put him in the rank pen. Maybe he needs to go to the Finals again.”
Sparky and his wife returned from the Finals with more than their highly-regarded bucking horses.
Dreesen received the prestigious NFR Remuda Award from PRCA commissioner Karl Stressman on the eve of the rodeo as the stock contractor who provided the best, most consistent pen of bucking horses. The award came with a bronze sculpture that showed three of Dreesen’s top horses: Bug Bunny, Special Times and Faded Charm.
Bugs Bunny has also been to the Dodge National Circuit Finals in both bareback and saddle bronc events and was in the Match of Champions at Sentinel Butte, ND, where he was the Horse of the Match.
“It is typical for him to mark 22-24 out of a possible 25 on him,” Dressen said. “He gets up off the ground and high in the air, kicks hard and makes a lot of jumps I eight seconds. He is fast.”
Dreesen said the real beauty of Bugs, along with being a great athlete, is that he is passing on his superior genetics to his off spring.
One of his colts, Rodeoing Beyond, was the second high horse in the ninth round of the NFR.
Bugs Bunny carries three generations of line breeding that is being used by Dreesen to produce top bucking horses. On the top side, he is by a stud called Bugsy that is owned by Shane Viara of Richey, MT. On the bottom side, he is out of line bred Crow Woman and Red Lizard.
“Although we have been running a lot of brood mares we are now getting really selective on what we are breeding and now are focusing on about 40 of the best mares that will continue to build our bucking horse program,” he noted.