This summer, you could hear the ache in Joey Williams’ voice as she headed home from an out-of-state rodeo to her three small children in Volborg, Montana. She and Taylor Williams’ boys Landon and Carson, 6 and 4, were joined by baby girl Shay just last year. In fact, there’s only one reason that Joey, 32, has been encouraged to hit the road – “Baybe.”
Her 11-year-old brown mare, Baybe Bullet, is one of the best breakaway horses in the world. On Baybe, Williams clocked the fast-time of the entire National Finals of Breakaway Roping (NFBR) in Vegas – a 1.7 in Round Four. On her, Williams has dominated the Montana Circuit repeatedly, and that’s after Taylor won the Montana Circuit Finals Rodeo three straight years heeling on her.
“I do not feel like I rope better than anyone else,” said Joey. “You just have to have the horsepower under you.”
Baybe was raised and trained at the Williams ranch near Broadus, Montana. She’s the last of the get by Frenchman’s Bullet, the late stallion that Taylor’s dad Bud Williams stood by Frenchman’s Guy out of a Pacific Bailey granddaughter. And her dam is the now-deceased Beanie Baybe Chic, a Chicks Beduino granddaughter on the top side, out of a half-Thoroughbred Top Moon granddaughter.
Joey vaguely remembers Taylor breaking Babye to ride before their 2014 wedding, and she likes to tease him about taking the filly straight from the round pen to the heeling box because she was so eager to please. Incidentally, Taylor’s brother-in-law Radley Day headed for him on a 12-year-old full sister to Baybe called J Lo, and the team riding the sisters won the past three average titles at the Montana Circuit Finals. Clay Tryan then bought J Lo and took her to last year’s NFR. Like Baybe, J Lo scores great and leaves hard and flat.
Plus, another full sister carried Taylor to sixth at the 2009 CNFR in team roping with Joey’s cousin Ryan Routier. And Joey’s backup horse, Sugar, is a half-sister to Baybe by the same sire. She’s just as quick-footed and a little more free, so she gets the call at jackpots. Taylor heads on Sugar, too.
“All the mares in that line have been a dream come true,” said Joey, the 2012 CNFR breakaway champ for Black Hills State who also has a master’s degree from the University of South Dakota.
Baybe stands about 15 hands – a size Joey calls “just right” for the arena.
“I don’t mind a bigger horse,” she said. “When you’re taller, sometimes it fits a little better.”
Because of ranchwork and small children, Joey didn’t haul the mare much until last year, but said Taylor did a good job starting her on calves. This July, Taylor and Joey both rode Baybe in Colorado Springs at the national circuit finals, now called the NFR Open.
“She’s pretty smart,” Joey said. “I can’t think of one time she’s made a mistake going back and forth between heeling and breakaway. And I’ve even heeled on her and thought, surely that will confuse her. Nope. She worked great.”
The NFR Open was virtually the only rodeo for Taylor this summer, who stayed home to put up hay and ride young horses – some of which were embryos flushed out of Baybe. The oldest foal is 3 now, by the family’s barrel racing stallion Smoke N Sunrise. They also have a 2-year-old daughter by Smoke N Sparks and a yearling by Shawne Bug Leo.
Williams would love to take Baybe back to a second straight NFBR and earn at least the $20,000 she deposited last year for fifth in the average. Helping her along the way this season are Rock & Roll Denim and Lone Star Ropes.
“I’m a little afraid I’m not entering enough,” Joey said. “But I’m okay with what I can get to with my good horse.”
Joey’s haul of $8,948 in one week at Ogden and Idaho Falls gives her nearly $35,000 in the world standings with seven weeks remaining. But regardless of where she ranks on Sept. 30, she’s excited to get into the winter rodeos and is leaning into the experience, like her unique way of leaning forward with her upper body in the corner. That’s how she stays with her quick mare as Baybe’s momentum brings her up to rope.
“That mare is a statue in the corner,” Joey said. “She scores so well. And she has very explosive speed to the calf; she gets me there so fast. I have to mentally prepare myself so she doesn’t get there before I’m ready to throw. She stops good, too. It’s not a fancy drag-your-butt stop like some horses, but she shuts it down. And there’s no way to train a horse to time it as well as she does. As long as I ride her through my throw, she shuts it down perfectly every time.”