PUEBLO, Colo. – Two-time World Champion Jess Lockwood did not want to say anything in his first few weeks and months back from reconstructive hamstring surgery last season.
Lockwood just figured the pain he was feeling around his pelvis was natural soreness from being out of competition for six months after he caught his spur and had his hamstring ripped off the bone following a 91.5-point ride on I’m Legit Too.
He also did not want to make any excuses for how poor he was riding since being injured in Kansas City, Missouri. The Volborg, Montana, native figured a full offseason to continue to build himself back up physically and a fresh start in 2021 would do the trick.
However, that wound up not being the case no matter what Lockwood thought or did. Even this season, he figured the pain was just a factor of not being on bulls consistently. A broken jaw at the season-opener in Ocala, Florida, as well as a free-hand injury and bruised left thigh later in the year, have caused him to miss five of the 13 Unleash The Beast events.
All along, though, Lockwood’s pelvis was never feeling right.
“When I came back in Billings (in September 2020), my pelvis hurt,” Lockwood told PBR.com on Thursday. “I just thought it is just from not riding for so long. I am just not in shape and whatnot. I felt it right when I came back. It has been bothering me ever since I came back last year. Especially this year, I have been riding like hell. I have been doing everything in my power to fix it, and I am just like, ‘Damn. I am doing everything right when I am riding, and trying to, but I can’t get my hips to my rope. I can’t control my legs when I am riding. I have never rode this bad. This is weird.’”
Lockwood finally caved this past weekend and stopped being in denial. He explained to Dr. Tandy Freeman and the PBR Sports Medicine Team what was going on, and he got himself scheduled for an MRI/X-ray this week in Dallas to get to the bottom of his pelvis pain.
“I have felt it ever since I came back last fall; I just never had Tandy check it out,” Lockwood admitted. “Finally, at Billings, I told Tandy, ‘This hurts so bad. You have to check it out, and it’s been bothering me ever since I came back. I just never told you.’”
Lockwood has been trying to ride with a separated pelvis, and the injury possibly dates back to when he tore his hamstring.
“There is a spot where your two pelvis bones connect, and it is the support of your pelvis,” Lockwood said. “That is separated from my pelvis and pulled down out of my pelvis. So I have no support in my pelvis.”
Lockwood said the plan is likely to get surgery for his core muscle injury in the coming weeks so that he can make a full recovery in time for the second-half push to the 2021 PBR World Finals.
While Lockwood could try to take a therapeutic approach and put off surgery, that would only be a short-term solution. Therefore, he wants to get everything fixed and be 100%.
“I could get it fixed and be out only for two months,” Lockwood said. “Pretty much I would miss the summer and be ready for the second half. I want it done, over with and fixed. Then I can get back to kicking ass.”
2021 has been the worst season of Lockwood’s career. Lockwood is 25th in the world standings and is 3-for-19. He has bucked off 10 bulls in a row and is 7-for-33 on the UTB since returning from his hamstring surgery last September.
“I have been fighting my head all year,” Lockwood said. “I have been doing everything right, trying to throw my hips at my rope, and I physically could not. It is nice to know, or a relief to know, I literally physically couldn’t do that. This explains a lot.”
Lockwood has already become one of the greatest bull riders in PBR history despite a career of endless injuries. The youngest two-time World Champion has missed more than 40 premier series events in his career since turning pro in 2016. He has competed at an average of 16.8 premier series events per season.
This year was the first in which Lockwood struggled to bounce back from an injury. He has already overcome torn groins, a lacerated kidney, broken ribs, a punctured lung and shoulder separations in his six-year career, but this latest injury has not been as easy to rebound from.
“It has been a mental battle more than anything because I have never ridden this bad,” he said. “There is no chance in hell or reason why I should be riding that bad if I was physically healthy. I never see myself riding that bad if I am perfectly healthy.
“I am ready to get this sucker fixed, be normal and kick ass again.”
Follow Justin Felisko on Twitter @jfelisko
Photo courtesy of Andy Watson/Bull Stock Media