National bareback rodeo champion Adam Williams, of Rakaia, won’t be defending his title after suffering a career ending injury.
The 29-year-old was injured during his last ride at Waikato Rodeo in mid-February. But the extent of the injury has only recently been found.
After completing an eight-second ride at the rodeo, he ended up in the saddle leaning heavily to his left.
When he tried to right himself, the saddle came loose and – with his hand roped – twisted Adam underneath the horse.
The trapped cowboy was struck by hooves both sides of his head, splitting an ear, and had his leg stomped; two of the three muscles in his right leg hamstring were torn.
He spent two days in Waikato Hospital and after a CT scan, looking at bone not muscle, he was told it was a hematoma.
Black and blue, he returned home to Rakaia for some much needed rest and relaxation, then physiotherapy.
Adam found out he won the champion title due to points he had already accumulated during the season. But did not find out the extent of his injury until gearing up to train in August for this season. His first event would have been at the Winchester Rodeo this Saturday, then Methven Rodeo on Sunday.
“I tried to go for a run, but I knew something wasn’t right. I couldn’t run.”
Not only had his leg locked up but it was painful.
“That is when I knew something was wrong.”
His GP referred him to SportsMed specialists, in Christchurch, and an ultra sound was soon followed by an MRI.
His specialist told him it was a career-ending injury, the worst he had seen in 10 years. And now there is too much scar tissue for surgery as it’s wrapped around the sciatic nerve.
If the nerve is nicked in surgery he could lose the feeling and use of his leg.
It was a shock diagnosis for Adam, who for the past 10 years has strived to succeed and immersed himself into the rodeo circuit making lifelong friends nationwide and overseas.
“It’s like getting the carpet ripped out from underneath me.”
He said rodeo had also helped him get through some tough times, including the death of a close friend who was also on the circuit.
Adam’s only regret was he never got to ride in the United States, which he was due to do this year but was thwarted by covid.
In hindsight, it was a blessing in disguise. He would have got to the states and then found out his leg was no good.
While he will not be competing at the Winchester or Methven rodeos this weekend, he will be at both events playing guide to a visiting friend and catching up with those on the circuit.
It will no doubt be a difficult weekend but Adam says he wouldn’t change anything.
He has had great support from family and friends as well as his bosses, Murray and Sally Smith at Rakaia Automotive, where he is a mechanic.
He is planning to step away from rodeo for a year, but has already helped out at a coaching clinic in Methven and is considering options, such as roping, that he could take up when he returns.
“It is what it is. There are some that have come out of rodeo a heck of a lot worse off than me.”