Rod Chumley is a 5 heeler from Selah, Washington, with way too many hot irons in the fire to find time to rope more than recreationally. His main mission at the moment is his thriving Scout Lake Construction Company. Business is booming, and has branched out to jobs in Montana, Yellowstone Park and beyond. Chumley is currently building a wine-tasting facility for former NFL quarterback Drew Bledsoe.
On the side, Chumley raises rope horses, border collies and Professional Bull Riders-caliber bucking bulls, including the notorious Doctor Proctor, as Chumley Cattle Co. Chumley bought the horse that would inherit his name from Knutson as a 2-year-old.
“He had just turned 2, and only had about five rides on him when I got him,” said Chumley, a lifelong friend of the Minor family who also counts 2008 World Champion Heeler Randon Adams as one of his best friends. “He was never broncy, but was kind of owly on the ground with people he didn’t know. My daughter was a little girl at the time, and liked to pet everything without warning. My biggest fear was that she would walk up and pet him on the belly and get into a wreck with him.”
That little girl, Emma, is 13 now, and is already making headlines as a barrel racer. Horse Chumley’s fear-based reaction to sudden surprises was to pull back. Rod Chumley got the horse good and broke, then roped on him a little before sending him on to Brady Minor to polish up his rough edges as a heel horse.
“He was still a little jumpy on the ground,” Rod Chumley said. “He hadn’t been handled much as a baby. But Brady got him going good for me. We passed him back and forth. I’d rope on him awhile. Then Brady would take him back and tune him up for me.”
The horse’s natural talent was obvious. But there came a risk-reward ratio Rod Chumley could no longer live with. So when Brady and wife Ashley got married in 2010, Rod put a bow on Chumley’s head and gave him to Brady as a wedding present.
“My daughter was in love with horses, and she would come up to them so strong and never slow down,” Rod Chumley remembers. “I saw him jump back when she walked up one day, and I just couldn’t take the chance. It wasn’t his fault. But it also wasn’t something I could live with if something happened to her.”
Rod didn’t actually raise Chumley. But on an interesting side note, he is the listed breeder on Riley Minor’s back-to-back reserve American Quarter Horse Association Head Horse of the Year, Bob, who’s 16 now and averages 60 rodeos a year. Northwest header Bob Moriarty had that horse between Rod and Riley.
“Every breeder has his own recipe,” Chumley said. “My goal with my horses is that I want a controlled mind, a big motor and a big stop. I’ve basically worked to create a very athletic, sensible horse. I don’t want a hot, stingy, crazy-wired horse. I want one that’s good to be around.”
There’s also a Rod Chumley connection to the buckskin horse—Buck—that helped raise Jake Minor.
“Brady and Riley’s dad, Brent, started that horse,” Rod said. “I bought him from Brent when he was 4. I roped on him a couple years, Jake was coming on strong and didn’t have a good enough horse, so I sold him to Jake.”
Rod Chumley’s been too busy tending to business to venture out to ropings in recent times, but has high hopes to find more time to hit some jackpots with friends in 2018.
“I love to rope,” he said. “I ride my young horses and rope at home every chance I get. I don’t know Cory personally, but I’ve followed that horse and have a sense of pride about it. I watched that horse every single night at the Finals on TV, and it was fun to think that I used to heel on him. I knew he was good. It makes me happy to see where he’s been able to go. He never could have gotten this far with me riding him. They don’t get any better than Cory.”
BRENT PALMER AND JAKE MINOR WON THE FIRST ROUND AT THE 2013 COLLEGE NATIONAL FINALS RODEO WITH MINOR RIDING CHUMLEY, BACK WHEN JAKE WAS RODEOING FOR WALLA WALLA COMMUNITY COLLEGE IN WASHINGTON.
CORY CAME TIGHT ON HIS FIRST GOLD BUCKLE IN 2017, AND SAYS IT’S NO COINCIDENCE THAT CHUMLEY IS THE BEST HORSE HE’S EVER RIDDEN.