Great State: Snakebit Horse Still Competing at IFR

Great State
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BRISTOW, OKLAHOMA -- He lays gas lines for a living but Jason Stewart's heart lies in the pastures surrounding his house near Bristow, and with an ornery horse who, by all accounts, should have died last summer.

"He's an outlaw," says Jason as he enters a stall.

"He's been that way ever since I got him."

Stewart acquired Stevie for free when his old owner pronounced him un-ridable.

Jason says, "He's still a little goosey," while putting a halter on him.

'Stew' and Stevie still have their go-rounds but they both came to an agreement when it came to bulldogging.

"Right now I wouldn't trade him for the world," he says.

"They say a little crazy makes the best horses so..."

"Well is he crazy smart or just crazy crazy?" asks a visitor.

"He's crazy and crazy smart," replies Jason.

"You show him something and he knows what he's doing."

Jason and another Oklahoma cowboy, Walt Cherry, use Stevie for steer wrestling.

They've both ridden him for several years until Stevie's incident in July of 2013.

Somewhere in a pasture, maybe down by a pond on the property, Stevie refused to back down from a poisonous snake.

Pointing to a spot on the right side of his head Jason says, "He got bit right over here."

By the time veterinarians figured out what happened Stevie was near death.

Stewart recalls, "At times, when he was sick, you could walk up and push him and he'd almost fall over. That's how weak he was."

Looking at him in mid-January, it's hard to believe this is the same horse who lost 500 pounds.

His face swelled to the point where he couldn't eat.

Medication caused holes to develop in his stomach.

Jason says, "we doctored him for, I think, 130 days."

Every morning for months Jason got up expecting to find Stevie dead in his stall.

The horse started coming around by the time the weather changed.

Stevie still can't eat hay but Jason thinks he came back stronger than ever.

The Stewarts have a video clip of his first rodeo experience since the snake bite.

Stevie was a little squirrely in the gate but instinct took over when the steer broke loose.

Jason says, "I think he's come back stouter, stronger. I think he runs harder."

Despite a short season and long odds, Stewart and Stevie's other rider both earned their way to spots in the International Finals Rodeo, scheduled to start January 17th.

Stewart says, "He don't know when to quit."

The International Finals Rodeo takes place at the Oklahoma State Fairgrounds in Oklahoma City.

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