Reno Mil­lion

Spin to Win Rodeo - - Raising The Bar -

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.”

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