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J.R. Vezain making progress after severe injury

by TRACY RENCK | Apr 12, 2019

COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. – Veteran bareback rider J.R. Vezain continues to make progress after suffering a broken back while competing at the Pasadena (Texas) Livestock Show & Rodeo when he was riding Frontier Rodeo Company’s Brazos Bash, Sept. 22.

The injury required surgery and has left him with mobility issues from the waist down. Vezain addressed his rehab in an interview with ProRodeo Sports News Friday.

Photo courtesy of  J.R. Vezain“I was rehabbing at Neuroworx in Sandy, Utah, since November,” said Vezain, 27. “They have upgraded me to taking steps with body weight support. My wife (Shelby) is getting ready to have a baby boy (the couple’s first child) May 14, so the closer that (date) came the more we were wanting to be at home. I talked to the therapist, and we did some new testing. They set me up with an at-home program to come to do some strength training for the next six to eight weeks until after the baby comes. Then we will touch base and make a new game plan after that. My in-laws turned the garage into a gym, and we have a bunch of equipment set up.”

Vezain, a six-time qualifier for the Wrangler National Finals Rodeo (2012-14 and 2016-18), returned home to Melstone, Mont., from Sandy, Utah, April 5.

“I have been back rehabbing, and I elicit my own steps,” Vezain said. “My hip flexor is firing, my quads are firing, my glutes are firing, and those muscles are flexing. I can elicit my own steps, but my leg muscles are still so weak that I can’t hold myself up yet without assistance. I’m making progress daily.”

Vezain said his faith and the outpouring of support is helping him deal with his plight.

“Ever since the beginning when this happened, I could have laid in bed and wondered why it happened to me and wonder if I was going to get out of it, or you can get dressed, get out of bed and make the most of it, and that’s what I have been trying to do,” Vezain said. “I’m relying on the support system I have and my faith. I don’t know what the outcome is going to be, but I dang-sure know who holds tomorrow, and I’m going to keep working hard and keep on swinging.”

Vezain got on a horse for the first time since his injury April 6.

“I rode a horse around the place here (in Melstone), and that sure was great,” Vezain said. “I also got a four-wheeler rigged up with a hand-shifter, so I can go tag cows and help out around the ranch.”

Recently, Vezain also started doing leatherwork again.

Photo courtesy of  J.R. Vezain1“I used to do leatherwork growing up,” Vezain said. “I always had aspirations to set up my own saddle shop, and I got married and got busy with life and rodeoing,” Vezain said. “I had not done much leatherwork for three years or so, and then when I went to Utah, Kent Mertin raffled off a leather bag that he made and some spurs. Through small talk, I told him I used to do leatherwork. He told me if I got bored to come over (to West Jordan, Utah), which was 10 minutes away and do some leatherwork. I spent every day there after rehab doing leatherwork. I’ve been making a bunch of Navajo purse bags. Kent told me to show some of my purse bags on the internet, and I’ve been blessed. I got a bunch of orders of purses and some belts.”

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