Joey Williams won the 2023 Pendleton Round-Up Breakaway Championship with a 3.5-second run on Saturday, Sept. 16, earning $8,763 and solidifying her place in the Playoff Series Finale at the Governor’s Cup in Sioux Falls, South Dakota.
The win came on the heels of Williams’ victory at Cheyenne Frontier Days on July 30, where she earned nearly $20,000.
The Breakaway Roping Journal caught up with Williams following her Pendleton win to see how she’s feeling with less than two weeks left in the ProRodeo season.
BRJ: How do you mentally prepare to succeed in places like Cheyenne and Pendleton?
JW: Setups like Cheyenne and Pendleton are challenging. I’ve gone to both twice in the past and haven’t had any success. I think I went in with a ‘It is what it is, I’ll see what I can do’ mindset. I think that helps.
With a challenging setup like Pendleton, you can’t put pressure on yourself like ‘I’ve got a good calf, I’ve got to use it…’ you’ve just got to let it roll and see what happens.
Pendleton is one of those places where you can ask advice from multiple people—because you want the right strategy. But I don’t even know what the right strategy is. There is so much feel. You’ve just got to let your reactions take over and see if it works.
What was your game plan?
My goals in slack were: try to be in the barrier because it’s shorter than you think and you can kind of take a roll at it, and have my swing going. Some people wait too long to get their swing going and then their calf is going left or right.
What’s it like roping on the grass at the Pendleton Round-Up?
A lot of people say, ‘You grew up on a ranch, you should be used to roping like that.’ But it’s not even close to the same. When you’re roping a calf in the pasture it’s on regular grass; Pendleton is on slick football field turf and it’s not even close.
I rode my mare Reba in the first go round because it’s so slick when they start breakaway slack. I didn’t want to risk Baybe. I felt better riding her in the finals because the field was a lot more chewed up, and you don’t see as many horses slipping.
You cut it close with your loop in the short go…
I liked the calf I drew in the short round—he went straight for the first girl who ran him, but he went left pretty hard for me. I had to keep riding over there to go get him. He was a good speed though, because some of those calves really took off in the short round.
We were going left and right as I went to throw, he stepped right and I topknotted him. Luckily Baybe read my body language and let me pedal her through it and the loop fell on. Nobody was more surprised than me.
In the short round, I wasn’t even halfway through the girls—but I was happy to have a time. I did not think I was going to win it. When there were a couple of girls left it started dawning on me that I might actually win.
How do you keep your head on straight as the season comes to a close?
It gets to the point where I feel like it needs to wrap up; I need to be home now. The kids are back in school, so that’s a challenge. But you’ve got to stay focused and do your best. The people in my corner help me get it all done. My husband is great, and my whole family pitches in. When you can trust who is helping with your kids, it makes it a lot easier to focus on breakaway roping.
I think having a family actually allows me to be a better breakaway roper because with three kids, a husband and a ranch, you have a lot on your mind, and I don’t have time to overthink the breakaway. Family keeps you grounded, especially when they’re on the road with you. It’s hard to be in a bad mood when your kids are around. If something doesn’t go well, you just have to put your smile back on and go play with the kids. Don’t get me wrong, there are dry spells and bad attitudes, but it’s all about perspective and being a mom first.
How are you feeling going into Sioux Falls?
I am really excited for the chance to be there because that rodeo is huge for breakaway. They’re letting breakaway come there for equal money and it’s going to be huge for us. I think the money will be spread out a little, too, because the rounds pay really good, and the final four pays really good. I think it’s a great opportunity for girls to round up some money before Vegas that we didn’t have in the past.
ProRodeo breakaway coverage is supported by Top Hand Ropes.