After passing through the law-firm-sounding remudas of Knutson, Chumley, Minor and Minor, Chumley found his permanent home in Petska’s pasture three years ago, about the time he turned 10. But it was not love at first blush for Cory and Chumley, whom he’s ridden at the last three NFRs. Fact is, Cory stayed pretty disgusted with the horse in the early going.
“Chumley was a dink the first year I had him,” Cory said. “He had so much ability, and I kept hoping and thinking one of these days he would go to work. I just didn’t know what it was going to take.”
Quite by accident, Petska discovered the secret
password when he took off the tie-down.
“We were running steers through the night before my roping in (Ceres) California, and I was jacking around on him,” Cory remembers. “I’d actually been heading on him because I was mad at him. I was trying to get him to keep his front end up and keep his back end moving, and that’s easier to teach one heading than heeling. We were about done, and Brandon Beers and I wanted to set the score, so we ran two steers. All I had on Chumley was a chain gag and split reins. He’d never felt so amazing. He worked outstanding.
“He was really front endy with a tie-down on. He would drop his front end. With it off, he stays up in your hand and stays sliding. This is the only horse I’ve ridden without a tie-down, but he works so good I just go on with it. When you pull on most horses without a tie-down they throw their head in the air right when you’re turning. Chumley’s a freak, but whatever works.” Chumley’s a stout 14.3 hands and 1,100 pounds. “He’s all there,” Cory said. “He’s a soggy little guy. What I’ve always liked about him is how fast, quick-footed and short-strided he is. He legitimately has head-horse speed. Most horses as fast as him aren’t very cowy. Chumley’s that special combination. You can’t fault him anywhere. And he’s honest.”
Cory says he really doesn’t have a standard heelhorse checklist.
“I just go off of how they feel,” said Petska, who’s now roped at 14 NFRs. “I have five heel horses and they’re all built different. All I really care is if they have a good feel and they’re easy for me to catch on.”
Most team ropers would tweak a thing or two about even their best horse if they had the chance. Not Cory when it comes to Chumley.
“I wouldn’t change one thing,” he said. “There’s nothing I could make better. There’s nothing I would take away. He’s literally the perfect horse for me. That’s not saying he’s better than everyone else’s horses or that he’s perfect. But he is that good for me.”
The hauling is harder on horses than the runs. Still, Cory’s Chumley Management Program is light on the repetitions.
“The hours in the trailer and all the bouncing up and down on rough roads is tough,” he said. “It’s got to be hard on their feet and legs. Unfortunately, they go as many miles as we do. I don’t overdo the runs on Chumley, and the way he stops he takes it all on his butt. That’s a good thing for a horse’s longevity. Chumley never gets sore, and he works good even when he’s tired. The most I run on him at home now is five or six steers a day, three days a week, just to keep him sharp.”
About the only special treatment Chumley gets in terms of maintenance is a set of shoes aimed at managing his tendency toward quarter cracks, which has happened twice now. Other than that, he’s a pretty easy keeper.
So is Cory, who’s about as calm as they come. His favorite horse isn’t quite so consistent.
“Chumley’s a real cross,” Cory says. “He wants to be in your pocket and be your friend one day, and he’s snorty the next. He’s got a funny personality the way he changes from day to day.”
Chumley has gotten past pulling back, Petska’s proud to report. And like all the truly great ones, he shines under all conditions.
“I’ve won Salinas on him (with Rogers in 2016; Cory also won the California Rodeo with Clay Tryan in 2004 and ’09), I’ve done good on him at Cheyenne, and he’s great in the Thomas & Mack,” Cory said.
Cory considered Cruiser—the little bay horse he heeled on when he roped with Matt Sherwood— his best-ever before Chumley found his full stride. Cruiser came from Brady Minor’s heel-horse program, too.
“I’ll ride behind Brady anytime,” Cory said. “He rides good horses.”
Cory’s bought and sold a lot of horses in his career, but Chumley won’t leave Marana, Arizona, once his roping and rodeo runs are done.
As Petska puts it, “There’s no price tag on him now.”