who’s 5 now, was born deaf. They didn’t realize the rambunctious puppy couldn’t hear when they brought him home, but have since developed their own sign language to communicate with him. “You just have to be sure he’s looking at you before you let him know what you want him to do,” smiled Peg, who’s clearly a patient canine parent.
Peg was a pioneer in her career as a high school teacher, at the time a rare woman who taught computer programming. She retired after 31 years in 2015. “It was wonderful,” she said of sharing her love for computers and all they can do with young people. “I really enjoyed it. Now that I’m retired, I get to ride and enjoy life.”
Jim works as the superintendent for the Bureau of Indian Affairs for Truxton Canyon Agency and the Southern Paiute, at the office in Valentine, Ariz. Kingman’s so windy that it impacts even the perfect loop. The Williameses are currently building a place in Wittmann, Ariz., so that’s their first thought on the perfect place to spend the $200 grand.
To celebrate the big win, the Williamses were headed to spend time with roping friends Carl and Nancy Petersen of Three Forks Saddlery fame in Montana, with planned stops along the way in Jackson, Wyo., and Livingston, Mont. Peg’s horse Cowboy, who’s 15 now, used to be Nancy’s head horse.
“It’s taken me two or three years, but I’m finally getting with him and we’re becoming a team,” Peg said. “He’s so quick-footed, but he’s so flat and easy to rope on. I love roping on him, but he has an attitude at times. He’ll go wide or a little by the steer, and kind of get me. He did that a little bit on our second steer today.”
Jim’s horse Indian, 10, originally came from the Haythorn Ranch in Nebraska.
Peg and Jim didn’t do a lot of chatting or strategizing before they rode in to rope their last one for the tall dollars. “We tell each other good luck—that’s it,” she said.
Ironically, Jim attributes working so hard on their consistency at least in part to something he heard one of the reachingest ropers alive say. “I was watching JoJo LeMond roping one night with Jim Ross Cooper, and he said, ‘We have to get our run together,’” Jim Williams said. “I thought that’s what Peg and I needed to do, so we stayed home and got our run together. Probably about eight years ago, we finally developed our run. We’d roped for 25 years and had always been pretty good, but we never had a consistent run. We got four roping steers and roped them four times every night, so we made 16 runs. And we got to where we could rope them every night straight up. That’s how we developed our run and got consistent.”
This was their fourth time to enter the roping, though they hadn’t made the trip to Reno in a couple years, once because Jim broke his tailbone. In years past, winners of the $200,000 Reno Rodeo Invitational were not allowed to return. That rule has been revised to now read that you just can’t rope with the same partner you won it with. That’ll be a bigger hill to climb for the Williamses than most, as they rarely rope with anyone but each other.
“WATCHING TWO FEET GO IN THE LOOP WAS THE BEST PART.” —JIM WILLIAMS
“I don’t feel any pressure from Jim,” Peg says. “He knows what I’m going to do every time, and he’s just always there. He knows how I’m going to handle the steer, so he knows where to ride. He’s always there to rope two feet.
“We’ve been more successful roping together. We live in Kingman, which is kind of the middle of nowhere, and we don’t get to practice with a lot of other people. I don’t feel as comfortable with somebody else over there as I do Jim.”
These people are also just so nice that they don’t care to inconvenience anyone. “We used to go camp and rope with other people when we first moved to Kingman, and it was fun,” Jim remembers. “Then all of a sudden—maybe because of my work—we’d have to call and tell people we couldn’t go. You’re calling partners— first to set them up, then to say, ‘I’m not going to make it.’ It’s just a headache. Peg’s my partner, and I don’t worry about trying to rope with anybody else. I can’t get a better partner.”
The Williamses haven’t always lived on Easy Street. Before they got their run figured out, they went through some tough and trying times just like everybody else. And nobody—not even Jake and Clay or Speed and Rich—bats a thousand in the team roping arena.
“We had to go through the whole thing all partners go through,” Jim said. “We had to learn how to lose and handle that with each other. We had to learn to create our run. We’ve been through all that, and those long drives, just like every other team.”
“We do this as a hobby,” said Peg, adding that winning the Reno Million was one of her roping bucket-list items. “To win the (World Series of Team Roping) Finale is another one of my goals. This is our greatest accomplishment as a team. This is amazing.”
“It was our lucky day,” Jim said. “We’d like to thank Peterson-Ullman Events and all the sponsors for producing a wonderful roping and a lifetime experience for us. This is just way too cool.”