Tiffany Ogren made the most of her first trip to the Montana Circuit Finals, bringing home the aggregate championship and $7,625 with three head caught in 8.0 seconds Jan. 12–14, 2023, in Great Falls, Montana.
For the 46-year-old cattle rancher from Hysham, Montana, winning the average at the circuit finals was a goal that had stayed close by her side for the last two years as a note written on a piece of paper in her pocket.
“I am a late bloomer as far as a roper,” Ogren said. “I didn’t grow up in a rodeo family, we ranched. But I was always drawn to the breakaway roping; I was fascinated by it. I like the fast pace and handling a rope.”
Reined Cow Horse Turned Breakaway Horse
Ogren’s partner throughout the rodeo season was 7-year-old mare Boons Fancy Gal (Rey Jay Boon x Fancy Smoke Gal). “Tess” started her working career under Ogrens’ husband, Stacey, in the reined cow horse events, which—while fun—led to a few challenges in the roping box.
“She’s been the hardest horse for me to take to the rodeo pen because she was so broke in the face, she was behind the bridle all the time,” Ogren said. “I needed her to push on the bit in the box and be held back in the corner. But she’d back off the bit and then we’d be late. I struggled to find anything light enough to put in her mouth. There were a couple of rodeos I felt like a bulldogger with a smooth snaffle.”
The two hit their stride in 2022, tying for third in North Dakota at the co-sanctioned Wild Rides Rodeo Killdeer over Labor Day weekend, earning $947. Days later in Big Timber, Montana, on Sept. 7, Ogren squeaked into the No. 11 spot of circuit standings with a third-place finish that earned her $577.
At the Montana Circuit Finals, Ogren and Tess stopped the clock in 3.1 seconds, 2.5 seconds and 2.4 seconds, respectively.
“The third round, all I had to do was catch,” Ogren said. “But I’ve been in that situation before, and I know that that kind of mindset does not work. In the finals, I was trying to take one run at a time and detach myself from the outcome. Just being in the present and enjoy just being there.”
Mental Preparation Pays Ogren Big
When Ogren’s mom, Elsie Cunningham, passed away in early 2017, Ogren reevaluated how she was living her life. The revelations that followed, compared to a butterfly coming out of a chrysalis, changed everything.
“The mental side is a huge passion of mine because it’s so universal,” Ogren said. “It applies to everyday life, to business, to parenting, to whatever.”
To keep her mental game sharp, Ogren works out, listens to mental improvement books by Brian Cain and Dr. Rob Gilbert, and soaks in chilly, 40-degree water.
“The cold soaking is adversity and a form of stress,” Ogren said. “It’s a time when I can practice my breathing and relaxing. I felt the benefits of soaking during the finals. When I felt myself get nervous, I would just revert to my breathing exercises and focus on the moment.”
Her mental prep practices paid off double in Great Falls, Not only is Ogren the 2022 Montana Circuit Finals Breakaway Champion, she is also qualified to rope the NFR Open for the first time in Colorado Springs, Colorado, July 13–16, 2023.
“I’ve heard it’s a really awesome opportunity,” Ogren said.
Montana Circuit Year-End Champion: Joey Williams
Two-time NFBR qualifier Joey Williams captured the Montana Circuit Year-End Championship with $12,091 in yearly earnings that included a clutch catch in the third round of the Circuit Finals in Great Falls Jan. 12–14, 2023.
With two no-times in the first rounds and competitors like Ogren looming with less than $1,000 in earnings between them, the pressure was on for Williams to accomplish her year-end goal: win.
“I knew I had to win the final round to have any chance at winning the year end,” said Williams, 31. “I knew I had a good calf. I just took my typical one-header approach and hoped that it worked out.”
Catching in 1.9 seconds, the Volborg, Montana rancher’s $2,440 payday was enough to keep her peers at bay. To make the victory sweeter, her mare Baybe Bullet was named Montana Circuit Breakaway Horse of the Year. “Baybe” was named the 2022 AQHA WPRA Breakaway Horse of the Year, as well.
Banking on Baybe
Baybe (Frenchmans Bullet x Beanie Baybe Chic) is a 12-year-old mare that’s proved her weight in gold several times over. She posted the fastest time of 1.7 seconds at the 2021 NFBR and carried Williams’ husband, Taylor—a heeler—to the Montana Circuit Finals winners circle three times.
“That mare is a statue in the corner,” Williams told the Breakaway Roping Journal in Aug. 2022. “She scores well, and she has very explosive speed to the calf and she gets me there so fast. I have to mentally prepare myself, so she doesn’t get there before I’m ready to throw.”
Williams and Baybe’s biggest circuit checks of the year included a $3,653 payout in Baker Aug. 18–20 and $1,814 payout in Big Timber Aug. 31.
Heading to the NFR Open
Williams will be attending the NFR Open in Colorado Springs in July for the second time. Despite a broken barrier in the second round that kept her from making the short go in 2022, she remains optimistic.
“I try not to let barriers bother me too much because it just happens sometimes, “Williams posited. “If you don’t break the barrier every now and then, you’re not trying hard enough. I’ll probably just go at it with the same game plan and just hope that it works out better this time.”
As for making the 2023 NFBR, Williams is taking things one step at a time.
“Making it back to Vegas is always a goal, but I have three small kids,” she said. “I think if, at any point in the year, it doesn’t seem a possibility, I would probably just back off and stay closer to home.”