Walk This Way – His final chapter
November 28, 2008
I lost a friend.
On Monday, Nov. 17, Walk This Way died after a short illness. I’ve cried and cried, not with regret and for what could have been, simply because this bucking bull captured my heart and took a piece of it with him.
We started our journey together on Dec. 30, 2005 at Bad Company Rodeo’s Tour Finale in Hamilton, TX. He and Satan’s Own were in a pen in the back and my two nephews and I went to see them. I knew that Walk This Way had been raised by Bob and Kristen Tallman and in all likelihood I had seen him as a calf. I had watched him buck and been impressed, but that was the first time we got up close and personal and I couldn’t have dreamed the journey that was about to begin. It started with a simple look in the eye and I knew that this bull had something special, that I call presence.
Two years later, Mack Altizer, owner of Bad Company Rodeo, talked to me about doing promotions for him. I got the brain storm to write a monthly column about Walk This Way’s journeys from his perspective. Instead of the bull riders talking about the bull that they rode, the bull would talk about the riders that tried to ride him. Mack liked the idea and Walk This Way and I became much better acquainted.
I’m not a bucking bull aficionado. People have asked me if I am a bull whisperer. Not even close. With this particular bull, I was more of a bull listener. When I spent time with him, he would look me in the eye and we did communicate. I watched him in the pens, in the pasture, in the chute, in the arena and I do believe that I had an idea what he was thinking. I talked to him and he looked me in the eye.
I grew up on a ranch in Northeastern Colorado that has been in my family for almost 100 years. We raised beef cattle, had some horses and I had some sheep (much to my father’s dismay) in high school. Our closest neighbors were over two miles away and we spent hours on the school bus. I had two brothers that are important people in my life today. The animals on that ranch were always my comfort and solace. If my mom couldn’t find me, I was often in the barn with my horse, or off on a ride. I’ve always reached out to the animals in my life to keep me grounded.
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Walk This Way did more than that. He was so smart and had such presence that he inspired me. Being able to tell his story gave me a new enthusiasm for writing and a passion for creating new fans of the animals.
Bob Tallman told me that he looked so much like a Jersey calf when he was born that he wondered if he should even keep him as a bull. He did. Good decision Bob. Kristen said he had an old soul and if you ever spent any time around him you would have to agree.
Mack Altizer bought him at the Stephenville, TX futurity in 2002, with encouragement from Cody Ohl. In October of 2003 he made his debut in the Professional Rodeo Cowboys Association (PRCA) at Rosenberg, TX. After over 100 trips in the PRCA and Professional Bull Riders (PBR), he was only ridden four times, twice by PBR world champ Justin McBride, once by J.B. Mauney and once by Kacey Hayes.
Probullstats.com has collected data on over 15,000 bucking bulls. Among those, Walk This Way was 10th in their power rankings, which is based on the percentage of buck offs, factoring the level of guys that get on a bull and the bull getting a good score while doing it. He made several trips that weren’t recorded on their website. He was selected for the Wrangler National Finals Rodeo and the PBR Built Ford Tough World Finals four times consecutively from 2004-2007.
His record in the arena is impressive, but in my opinion his demeanor outside of the arena is what made him a great bull and will give him a place in history. He loved the camera and was extremely photogenic. Whenever I showed up with a camera, he would pick his head up and look at me. I’ve known of him to push another bull out of the way so he could get more camera time.
The PBR is still using his image for a lot of promotions for that reason. His picture was used on manhole covers in New York City. It was in GQ magazine and used on posters, banners and arena signage. When the cameras filmed the bulls running across the border to Chihuahua, Mexico, he was first off the trailer and kept ahead of the pack getting his share of the camera time. Again, the bull had presence.
Walk This Way was just eight years old and we had hoped that he would be sharing that presence with his fans in the future. Earlier this year, he got kicked in the hock by a horse and took some time off to get healthy. He came back at Chihuahua and bucked off Francisco Morales in less than a second.
His recent illness started when he went off feed. He was taken to Dr. Warner at Elgin Veterinary Clinic. Dr. Warner’s experience with bucking bulls is unsurpassed. He found that the bull had something painful in the front portion of his abdomen and they suspected that he had hardware (eaten something metal) or that he had a stomach ulcer. They treated him and initially he responded to treatment. Over a week later, his temperature spiked and he went off feed again. He had an abscess in his chest that was untreatable.
“We surely don’t like losing a bull as good as Walk This Way,” Dr. Warner said. “He was a special bull and had a special place in a lot of people’s hearts. I’ve learned to never say never, because cattle have an innate ability to turn around. He fought and fought. In the end we had no options but to keep him comfortable. It hurts anytime that I lose anything. It hurts even more when there’s one that everybody cares about. You feel like you’ve let them down.”
After 26 years practicing veterinary medicine, Dr. Warner has had plenty of experience. He has compassion for bucking bulls, respect for their athletic ability and passion for the industry.
While I am sad that I’m writing Walk This Way’s final chapter, I am hopeful for the future and the next generation carrying on his legacy. Dan and Jennifer Duncan, owners of the 6D Ranch are partnered on him and have several calves coming on. Mack Altizer also has calves that we have high hopes for. Dillon and H.D. Page have a 2008 calf out of him and I know there are more. Hopefully they will be even better than their sire, but most importantly, I hope they inherit his presence.
I’ve used my imagination a lot while writing his story the past two years. I’ve been wondering what he would tell me now if he could. I think he’d tell me to find another bull that will look me in the eye, let me set on a bucket in his pen and keep telling stories from their point of view. I know that he enjoyed his life and I believe that he loved his fans. Thanks for reading. His name was Walk This Way and he was a bull with BADITUDE. T64, you will remain forever in my heart!