'I can go anywhere I want to work'

Haley Schneeberger

Rodeo competitors aren't the only ones who have a nomadic life six or more months of the year.

Haley Schneeberger of Ponca City, Okla., will drive her motor home into Pendleton again this year, carrying her three young boys and towing a horse trailer. She's a traveling rodeo secretary.

"I kind of manage all of the contestants," she said. "I take all of their money. I keep track of all their times and scores, and then when they're done, I pay all the winners."

In an average week, Schneeberger deals with rodeo purses ranging from $100,000 to $500,000, depending on the rodeo.

"Pendleton is one of the largest rodeos we have," she said, adding the purse is upwards of $300,000.

The secretary also is the liaison for the stock contractors. She gives them a daily stock list.

"I'm an extension of that central entry office in Pendleton," she said from her motor home recently in Caldwell, Idaho.

Schneeberger is a contract secretary, working for the Professional Rodeo Cowboys Association of Colorado Springs, Colo.

"I live in Oklahoma," she said. "I work wherever they will hire me."

This will be her third or fourth stop at the Pendleton Round-Up.

"I've been very blessed to have some of the very best rodeos that we have in the association," she said, adding that she generally works on the West Coast.

"I can go anywhere I want to work," she said, "but the majority of the really good rodeos I have are in this area."

Chief Joseph Days in Joseph is among the smallest rodeos she works. The Caldwell Night Rodeo one of the biggest. She's also a regular at Ellensburg, Wash., and Salinas, Calif.

Twice now, she's been an assistant secretary for the National Finals Rodeo in Las Vegas, Nev.

"That's one of the crowning achievements in my occupational world," she said, adding she's applied again to work there later this year.

Rodeo runs in Schneeberger's blood. She's a third-generation member of a PRCA stock contracting family. Her grandfather is the late Floyd Rumford of Abbyville, Kan. Her father, Bronc Rumford, still works as a stock contractor, mainly in the Midwest.

"I ran barrels a little bit, but I played junior college basketball," she said. "I had no ambition to be a rodeo secretary."

That's because her grandmother, Lola Rumford, was a longtime rodeo secretary and young Haley often tagged along.

Her start in the business came about unexpectedly.

"Grandpa had a stroke, so she couldn't work any more," Schneeberger said, referring to her grandmother. "I quit the basketball team and came over and started secretarying rodeos.

That was 13 years ago, and she's still going strong.

She credits Judy Ackley, a longtime rodeo secretary from Prineville, for helping her get established in the business.

"She always had a job for me," Schneeberger said. "It was Judy who really helped me get my foot in the door in the Northwest. She definitely helped to change some of the things we do nowadays."

Schneeberger, 31, travels with her three sons, Jaden, 6; Jace, 4; and Jaret, 10 months. She also hauls two ponies, a dog and a horse for her husband, Jerome, a tie-down roper, who won at Pendleton in 2003.

"I deal with 800 rodeo cowboys each week," she said. "Being a mother of three is way harder for me than being a rodeo secretary."

Schneeberger is on the road five or six months straight, May through October, when she returns home to put Jaden in school. In the spring, she's accompanied by her cousin, Chelsi Farney, who helps care for the boys. Her mother, Vicky Rumford, takes that duty in the summer and fall.

Once Schneeberger's secretary jobs are done for the year, the travel doesn't stop, however.

"I try to go with my husband a little more," she said.

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