Hali Williams has broken Martha Angelone’s single season ProRodeo breakaway earnings record of $130,303 with a staggering $145,786 won and two weeks of the season—plus the 2023 National Finals Breakaway Roping—to go.
The record smashing comes with an extra sense of accomplishment since Williams’ summer earnings came to a grinding five-week halt when her trusty gelding “Redlight” became sore, and she scrambled to get back into a groove.
“Breaking the record hasn’t set in, and I don’t think it will until the regular season is over,” Williams said. “I think Shelby (Boisjoli) will keep pushing me and we will continue to break it this year. Shelby’s not stopping—but neither am I—and I feel that it’s going to be a battle of horses and calves until the very end.”
With Williams qualified and Boisjoli soon-to-be-qualified to the Governor’s Cup in Sioux Falls, South Dakota—the final stop of the 2023 Cinch Playoffs that promises big payoffs—the record will continue to be pushed with every paycheck. Sioux Falls is set to pay at least $110,000 to breakaway ropers—a number that could turn the Top 15 standings on their head.
“I think the sport of breakaway is going to continue to grow, and I’m excited to see where the next few years of competition takes us.”– Hali Williams
How did Hali Williams get here?
By the spring of 2023, Williams was sitting pretty with $39,000 in ProRodeo earnings. On March 19, she won RodeoHouston and a jaw-dropping $50,000. Things were looking good for Williams—who’s only a ProRodeo sophomore.
In the following weeks, she picked up $1,630 at Rodeo Killeen in Texas; $1,532 at the Will Rogers Stampede in Claremore, Oklahoma; and $2,077 at the Mt. Pleasant Rodeo in Texas.
Come late June, though, the burners went out on her rocketship.
The dry spell
At the Greeley Stampede in late June, Williams’ main mount Redlight slipped coming across the score line. He didn’t show where he was hurting, but it was evident something was wrong.
“He wasn’t feeling good—he was mad all the time,” Williams said. “Four weeks into it, he finally started showing me where he hurt. His whole lower back was so tender.”
Williams started riding a 5-year-old horse she’d brought out on the road to season— achoice, she said, “is not for the faint of heart.”
“My dry spell was definitely correlated to Redlight being off,” Williams said. “He’s so fast I can score him out longer than anyone else, and he can catch up. I don’t have to rely on my ability. I rope the calf and he’s already popped the rope.”
With her RodeoHouston win and subsequent world standings domination, Williams became a bit of a celebrity, too. She said she began to people-please, talking to fans for too long and not prioritizing her focus time prior to a run.
“After the first two-and-a-half weeks, I thought, ‘Something must be wrong,’” Williams recalled. “And then three weeks hit and I’m thinking, ‘I don’t know what to do.’ You start trying to change stuff. I would draw a slow one and break the barrier and, then, I’d draw a fast one and topknot it. July was not my month.”
According to Williams, her lowest point came in Nampa, Idaho, when she lost the coils in her left hand while coming out of the box and ran down the arena with only her loop in her right hand and her reins in her left.
“I get to the end of the arena there almost in tears,” Williams said. “Lari Dee comes up to me—and I think I’ll remember this moment forever—and she says, ‘Hey, you can’t beat yourself up. You can only make the run on what you’re drawn and then you’ve got to move on. You’re overanalyzing instead of going and roping.’”
From there, Williams ran one more calf before turning out and going home to regroup.
Time to rise for Hali Williams
Redlight healed up thanks to chiropractic work and time off and, after less than a week home and a handful of practice sessions, Williams returned to the rodeo road to find her footing at the Dodge City Roundup Rodeo in Kansas City in early August.
“July is the month that people make the NFR, and I pulled one $400 check,” Williams said. “Looking back, I am happy this summer turned out the way it did because it taught me a lot. Hopefully I never have to go through that long of a dry spell ever again.”
The trail led Williams to purchase a new horse—one that’s proving a valuable part of her team. Sorrel, 10-year-old gelding “Hummer” was purchased from Mandy Walker and is perfect for one-headers because of his ability to float across the line, while Redlight is the free-running, multi-header horse.
Williams’ top checks in August and September
Jerome County Fair & Rodeo
Aug. 7-9, 2023
2.0 seconds, $2,797 to win
Aug. 10-12, 2023
1.8 seconds, $3,113 to tie for first place
Cache County Fair and Rodeo
Aug. 10-12, 2023
2.0 seconds, $3,234 for second place
Washington State Fair & Rodeo
Sept. 7-10, 2023
This coverage is supported by Top Hand Ropes; Williams’ rope of choice.