Baybe Bullet is the 2022 Nutrena Breakaway Roping Horse of the Year presented by AQHA

Baybe Bullet is the 2022 Nutrena Breakaway Roping Horse of the Year presented by AQHA

"Baybe" drug Joey Williams away from the ranch, her husband and her kids to hit the rodeo road.

Female breakaway roper in red shirt on a bay horse named Baybe Bullet.

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The American Quarter Horse Journal logo

By Lane Karney and Kendra Santos

Joey Williams is way too busy being a wife, mom to three littles and rancher to take off and hit the rodeo trail. But a multi-talented bay mare by the name of Baybe Bullet, who’s “Baybe” (pronounced “baby”) for short, changed Joey’s mind on that.

“I wouldn’t be rodeoing if I didn’t have this horse,” says Joey, who on the back of Baybe this year qualified for her second-straight Wrangler National Finals Breakaway Roping, November 29-30 at the South Point Arena in Las Vegas. “I’m busy to the max ranching and raising three kids. She’s 100 percent the only reason I’ve been out on the road. Baybe has taken me places I never imagined I would go over the past couple of years. She’s the real MVP on our team. She’s just super special, and she loves her job.”

Baybe is a 2011 bay mare by Frenchmans Bullet and out of Beanie Baybe Chic. By Frenchmans Guy, Frenchmans Bullet has sired 88 American Quarter Horse foals. His foals have earned more than $60,000 in barrel racing competition, led by Queen Of Bullets. Baybe is the stallion’s third-leading progeny by earnings.

Joey was the 2012 National Intercollegiate Rodeo Association breakaway roping champion back when her last name was Painter, and she rodeoed for Black Hills State University. Ten years later, she’s Joey Williams, Taylor’s wife, and mom to Landon, 6, Carson, 4, and Shay, 1. The Williams family runs a cow-calf operation in the remote rolling hills and timber country of Volborg, Montana, where they’re raising cattle, kids and horses. Baybe, who’s 11, came right off of the ranch. 

“Baybe was literally born, raised and trained here,” Joey says. “Our family owned both the mare (Beanie Baybe Chick) and stud (Frenchmans Bullet) Baybe’s out of and by. Taylor has bred horses for a lot of years, and we have some full siblings to Baybe who are rockstars, as well. Taylor halter breaks them and takes it from there. From the first day he started Baybe in the round pen, she has been easy, and it has been obvious she enjoys her job.

“We’ve always been very high on Baybe. We think she’s great, and making the Finals on her was so exciting. When we got the call that she was the Horse of the Year, that was the icing on the cake. For Baybe to get the vote of my peers shows me we’re not just owner-blind. It’s an irreplaceable feeling. I shed tears over it.”

Joey and Taylor co-own and share Baybe, who’s no one-trick pony. 

“Baybe was actually my husband’s heel horse,” Joey says with a grin. “After college, there wasn’t a lot for breakaway ropers up here where we live, so we went to team roping jackpots for several years. Taylor has won the Montana Circuit Finals heeling on Baybe three times now.”

Breakaway roping is a speed event, and Joey has proven wicked-fast roping skills. Baybe has stepped up and earned her cowgirl’s confidence under all arena conditions. 

“I can’t name a setup where she doesn’t work,” Joey says. “Baybe’s the type I can feel confident on everywhere. I won most of my money at one-headers this year, but we did also win the three-head average at Ellensburg (Washington). 

“I’ve roped on a lot of horses in my life, and Baybe’s just rock solid in the corner. She stands there like a statue and leaves off of my hand. She leaves so flat that it’s easy to get my first swing up fast. She doesn’t have a fancy, drag-your-butt horse show stop, but she shuts it down and is rock solid there, too. Baybe’s a great horse, and we’re on the same page, for sure. She’s a competitor, but she’s also a sweet mare. I can set my kids on her and lead them around. And when we get home from a rodeo, she heads out to the pasture pretty hot to take a break.”

Joey wore back number 8 at the 2022 Wrangler NFBR. Here's an interview with Joey after she won Round 8 at the 2021 Wrangler NFBR.

“I’m excited,” she says. “It was a whole lot of fun last year. We’re already dealing with Montana weather (in late October), so it’ll be tough to practice. But this is my normal, so I’ll just try to show up mentally prepared and not let it get in my head. Baybe will be ready. She’s always ready.”

Regular-season leader Martha Angelone rode this year’s reserve Breakaway Roping Horse of the Year, Spots Lil Legend. “Legend” is owned by Tanner Green, who’s the grandson of ProRodeo Hall of Fame All-Around Cowboy Phil Lyne. Teen sensation Josie Conner’s Stylish Drifter, aka “Dutch,” finished third in the voting.