PETSKA’S PRIZE

Spin to Win Rodeo - - Tr -

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.”

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