Greatness and consistency puts names in the history books, and Cadee Williams brought both to the 2022 National Finals Breakaway Roping, where she won the aggregate title and pocketed $17,194 for her efforts.
“I am really happy because I wanted to come here and win the average,” Williams said. “The average was the only thing I was going for, and I’m really happy it worked out.”
Williams competed among the WPRA’s top 15 breakaway ropers Nov. 29–30 to catch all 10 clean. For the competitor from Montana, the title came after a grueling 2021, when she seasoned her 7-year-old mare Dropit Likeitz Hott or “Scandal” at 40 regular-season rodeos. She followed up the year with 65 rodeos in 2022 to rank amongst her fellow top 15 breakaway ropers.
“It’s a lot of pressure,” Williams said. “We’re nervous; there is so much going on. It’s loud and [my horse] hasn’t had a lot of high-pressure situations like this. So, it was a lot to ask of her. She had 10 calves back-to-back-to-back, and you can’t go [school] them or do anything.”
Williams had to swap into survival mode after Scandal hesitated breaking out of the box throughout the NFBR on hard-running cattle. The skill was one she’d honed in 2021, when she was seasoning Scandal on the rodeo trail.
“When I wasn’t getting the starts I wanted to, luckily I was in a position [in the aggregate] where I could just do my job,” Williams said. “It’s a lot to ask of a young horse and she came through. I’m proud of her.”
The Ones That Count
As Williams competed in the sand of the South Point Arena, those most important to her cheered from the red seats. Waving homemade signs, Williams’ husband Landon, two children—Honor, 5, and Wyatt, 2—parents and extended family cheered enthusiastically.
“It’s so special to have my family here,” Williams said at the event. “My daughter had her big signs, and she was yelling as loud as she could. I looked over and definitely teared up for a second because she wanted a buckle this week. I had said ‘Well, I’m too slow in the rounds to get you a buckle, but I’ll try to get the average buckle.’”
To Honor’s delight, she got that buckle.
“It’s really cool to have my kids in this and enjoying it, and they’re not just here because they have to be,” Williams said. “They love it too and that’s what is really special—that we get to enjoy all of this. I love the journey.”
The Road to Vegas
Williams grew up in a rodeo family surrounded by swinging ropes. Her parents, Clay and Roxie Tew, rodeoed, and her three brothers—Colt, Cody and Casey—challenged Williams to constantly improve.
“I was fortunate to ride a lot of really great horses,” Williams explained. “Riding all those horses growing up was huge. I think the more horses you can ride, the better you can be.”
Williams qualified for the National High School Rodeo Association Finals three times for the state of Montana and was crowned NHSRA National Champion in 2008 in breakaway roping.
“I started on a palomino mare named Sunny, and she got me going,” Williams said. “Then, I had a really good calf horse that we got from the Odoms in Montana. His name was Roy and he taught me to throw fast. I learned how to rope fast before I could catch.”
Williams quick hand made her inconsistent, leading to a roller coaster of a college career at Weatherford College. At one point, she won five long rounds, but only made it to the winner’s circle at one due to inconsistent loops.
Scandal was the secret weapon that gave Williams her competitive edge. Williams saw the cutting-bred mares’ potential at the start, but it took time for the two to mesh.
“It’s been a huge turnaround [in style],” Williams said. “I used to not rope how I rope now. She made me more consistent, made me more of a catcher. I can’t just go buy another when one [horse] quits working, so I really had to learn how to adjust and keep a young one working. If I draw a calf and [the shot] is not there, I don’t take it. I run closer and make my horse work good.”
That willingness to adapt and make it work helped Williams turn things around after a rough start to her NFBR.
“I felt like I was riding a different horse between day one and two,” Williams said.