A rodeo clown running the extras in the team roping? You don’t see that every day!
But fans at the San Angelo (Texas) Stock Show and Rodeo have done a double take at six-time Professional Rodeo Cowboys Association Clown of the Year Justin Rumford in all his chucking-and-ducking glory the last couple weekends at the February 2-16 rodeo, which is held inside Foster Communications Coliseum on the San Angelo Fairgrounds.
On weekend one, Rump ran one with 2016 World Champion Heeler Jeremy Buhler. That next Saturday, February 10, three-time Champ of the World Jade Corkill got the call.
The crowd went crazy, clearly realizing how rare it is to see such a spectacle. Rodeo insiders weren’t quite so surprised. They know Rumford was an all-around cowboy back in college. While rodeoing for Northwestern Oklahoma State in Alva, the Rumpshaker qualified for four College National Finals Rodeos in both steer wrestling and saddle bronc riding.
“I wasn’t always chubby,” chuckles Rumford, now 36, who does a pretty popular “Fat Elvis,” and college rodeoed with guys like seven-time Wrangler National Finals Rodeo steer wrestler Stockton Graves, who’s now the rodeo coach at Alva.
What those who weren’t there might not know is that another of Rump’s college chums was 2009 World Champion Header Nick Sartain.
“I never entered the team roping at the college rodeos, but I hung out with Nick for a couple years when he was at Northwestern,” Rumford said. “I’ve always liked hanging out with team ropers.”
When the crew at San Angelo called for a volunteer to run the extras, which keeps the runs even on the steers, Rumford threw his hand in the air—not once, but twice.
For Buhler, “I slick-horned that sucker right out of the box,” Rumford reported. “But I’d never ridden that horse, he went left and I lost my dally. The crowd thought it was pretty cool, so when they needed another steer run that next weekend, I gave it another go.
“I thought, ‘How cool would it be to make an awesome run with Jade Corkill?’ He’s one of my favorite ropers. I was scared to ask him, and he was a good sport to say yes. But I got so dang nervous that I missed. Clay Tryan missed for Jade that night, too, poor guy.”
Rump rode San Angelo timed-event chute boss Andy Hilton’s bay head horse.
“It was a 14-inch saddle and I have a 16-inch belly, so we were a little tight in there,” Rumford noted, as a form of explanation but never an excuse. “The crowd absolutely loved it, and so did I. I just really appreciate those guys for doing that with me. I’m always trying to find new stuff to do. I don’t ever want to be complacent. Rodeo crowds like to see that the big-time cowboys can have a silly side, too, so that was fun for them.
“As for me and my team roping, well, you’ll see me at all the upcoming rodeos with my bale of hay with a set of horns stuck in it. You’ll find me out in the parking lot practicing.”
As the horseback announcer at San Angelo, Boyd Polhamus provided the color commentary for both runs.
“Justin actually caught that steer for Jeremy, but he couldn’t get his dally because his belly was covering the saddle horn,” Boyd noted. “I think Rump’s team roping career calls for the hashtag #14InchSaddleIsTooShortForAFatGuy.”