Bob Schneider – Rodeo is in his blood
It’s “rodeo season” again. Starting with the Earl Anderson Memorial rodeo at Grover, Colo., (June 18-19) followed by the Greeley Stampede (June 24-July 4) and then Frontier Days in Cheyenne, Wyo., (July 22-31). You can picture the action, the high bucking horses and mean bulls, the fast runs in roping and doggin’. Each rodeo has its unique character but they all have one big factor in common, the cowboys.
Rodeo cowboys make up a tight knit group of guys that have competition in common. Even after they have long been out of competition they still have a deep seated love for the sport and the fellow competitors that shared it with them. Bob Schneider of Milliken, Colo., was one of the long time rodeo hands. He competed in rodeo for over 20 years, and then worked in the arena for almost 30 more. Rodeo is definitely in his blood!
He competed at all those rodeos including Cheyenne, Greeley and Grover. This was back when the rodeo in Grover was just the Grover Rodeo not the Earl Anderson Memorial Rodeo. Earl Anderson was the stock contractor furnishing the stock for Grover and for the Greeley “Spud” Rodeo (now the Greeley Independence Stampede.) Bob grew up with Earl’s daughter, Peggy and her husband Warren Adams having an adjoining ranch. The families became friends which led to Bob’s dad, Phil, working many years at Earl’s rodeos running the gate out of the arena. The rest of the family eventually worked for Earl – brothers, Kenny and Bob working with the horses and bulls and Chuck driving the semi hauling the rodeo stock.
Bob recalled a funny incident with these neighbors. Earl brought the stock for the Greeley “Spud” Rodeo (now the Greeley Independence Stampede) to pasture at the Adams’ for a month before the rodeo. One of Earl’s big, grey, Brahma, bucking bulls showed up in the Schneider pasture with their Holstein cows. They called Warren who came over on his horse with his shotgun. He headed the bull back home and got his attention by peppering him in the rear with the shotgun. The next day the same bull was back. They called Warren, who, again, rode over with his shotgun and chased the bull home. This went on for quite a while; the bull soon figured it out and when Warren showed up on his horse with his shotgun he ran and jumped the fence before Warren did a thing. Needless to say, Schneiders had a lot of Holstein-Brahma cross calves the next year.
Bob started rodeoing in the school FFA rodeo. He competed in everything, rough stock, roping and gymkhana type events, ending up with the All Around title. That win encouraged him to go to other FFA or high school rodeos. After graduation he got his RCA (Rodeo Cowboys Association, now the PRCA, Pro Rodeo Cowboys Association) permit and headed down the road.
His main event to begin with was bull riding but he rode saddle broncs for a few years too. He related the first saddle bronc he tried was at Glenn Stutzman’s arena when as Bob put it, “I didn’t know nothing.” Jack Mitchell was helping him get down and coaching him. He handed him the hack rein, telling him how much to take … but Jack rode left handed and Bob rode right handed so Bob ended up “cross reined” (the rein coming up on the opposite side of the neck than the hand he used to hold it.) One jump out of the chute, “whee!” described Bob about being flung to the dirt hard. He added, “We all had a good laugh and after that I paid attention to which side the rein was on.”
Another incident that didn’t encourage Bob to pursue his career in saddle bronc riding was when he drew Hoss Inman’s horse, Jesse James (National Finals bucking horse of the year in 1961) who was noted for rearing out of the chute. True to form, he came rearing out, hitting Bob’s head on the back of the chute and sending him to the hospital. Bob explained that they put him in traction for the night.
The bull riding event was better for Bob. One of his favorite memories was when he rode Walt Alsbaugh’s bull, “Little 8,” who, up to that time, had never been ridden. That ride won him the bull riding title at the Boulder PowWow. He placed consistently, making enough money to break even or a little better. To him that was good enough because he really rodeoed for the love of it.
In 1964 Bob married his sweet wife, Marilyn. She went with him to rodeos, where they slept in a little cab high camper shell you could just sit up, not stand in. They might bring a camp cook stove and heat up beans, hot dogs or other “cowboy” food. Occasionally they would stay in a cheap motel, “if the town had one,” Bob added with a laugh. Everybody traveled with their families back then so there was plenty of visiting and cards after the rodeos and they’d go to the dance, if they had one. It was lots of fun. Things were relaxed, not in the rush to get to the next rodeo that there seems to be now. When their two kids, Vicky and Jeff came along they went too. There were other “rodeo kids” and it was easy for them to make friends. Bob didn’t rodeo full time, working at Monfort feedlot, then many years at Greeley Producers where he achieved yard manager by the time he retired. He farmed his own spread near Milliken, Colo., raising hay, corn, potatoes and running a cow-calf herd where he and Marilyn still live.
After riding bulls for 10 years Bob switched from bull riding to bull dogging. The change proved to be a good move for him. He started dogging with his older bother, Kenny. He’d haze for Kenny then Kenny would haze for him. A high point for Bob was when he made it to the final round in the dogging at Cheyenne Frontier Days two different years. He was riding Joe Masters horse and Joe thought so much of him he hauled his horses from Lafayette, Colo., up to Cheyenne, Wyo., just for him to compete on, both times. Bob really appreciated that and felt bad that he didn’t win the finals either time.
A scary thing happened to Bob while doggin at Frontier Days. He was doing “nine-O,” reaching for his steer after the long score they have at Cheyenne. The steer suddenly turned in front of his horse. He could see the wreck about to happen and threw the reins away wondering which way to jump to stay out of the way. He kept watching for his horses head to go down signaling the fall he figured was coming. Instead, the horse jumped over the steer ending up with it under his belly. He went down to his knees but then somehow, miraculously, was able to regain his feet and didn’t do the summersault Bob was expecting … that was a close one.
So, what stopped Bob’s rodeo career? It wasn’t a hulahan on a doggin horse or a mean bull, he blew his knee out while playing softball with his daughter’s 4-H club. This resulted in knee surgery that led to the decision to leave competition. Rodeo was in his blood and he couldn’t just quit so he began working in the arena, “running scores.” He was the man that got the number score from each judge on each contestant and ran over to give it to the announcer so he could announce it to the crowd. This kept him right where the action was for almost 30 years more.
Now retired, he and Marilyn travel, enjoying life. He still loves rodeo and when asked which his favorite was, he expressed that Grover was. It isn’t as big as Greeley or Cheyenne but his old rodeo buddies all go to Grover. “Friendship, that’s how come I like Grover. Everybody comes to Grover to visit their old friends.” Bob is a true representative of the tight knit group of old rodeo hands. You will see them at all the rodeos, starting with the Earl Anderson Memorial Rodeo in Grover this June 18 and 19.