J.D. Yates

Spin to Win Rodeo - - One On One - The first when he was just 15 years old heel­ing for his dad, Dick. He also qual­i­fied for the Na­tional Fi­nals Steer Rop­ing 11 times, and has won both the NFR (with Bobby Har­ris in 2002) and NFSR av­er­age (in 2008). One of the rare few who’ve roped both ends

KEN­DRA SAN­TOS: You are the youngest team rop­ing qual­i­fier ever at 15 years, 4 months. How did that hap­pen?

J.D. YATES: I think about it more now than I used to. I can re­mem­ber when I was a kid and my par­ents fi­nally took me to go watch the Na­tional Fi­nals Rodeo when I was 12 or 13, and mak­ing the Fi­nals be­came my dream to get there. That’s ev­ery young cow­boy’s goal and dream. That’s where all the best in the world are. I couldn’t wait un­til the rodeo was over to go down, jump over the wall and walk around in that arena. The NFR is the most fa­mous event in rodeo his­tory. My first rodeo on my card was Gree­ley (Colo.). We were driv­ing (from home in Pue­blo) to Gree­ley, and I begged my par­ents to stop at the (PRCA) of­fice in Denver. So we did. I was 14.

KS: Three gen­er­a­tions of my fam­ily sure en­joyed your par­ents and kid at the Col­lege Na­tional Fi­nals Rodeo in Casper in June. We missed you. They said you were busy show­ing horses before Reno. Tell me about your horse­show sched­ule these days.

JDY: My horse­show­ing sched­ule is re­ally strong un­til the day before the BFI. Then I take the rest of the sum­mer off, and Dustin Rodgers and my cousin Jay take some of the horses to some other shows so I can spend the sum­mer with my son. I might go to one show in Septem­ber. Oth­er­wise, my next show will be the World Show in Novem­ber.

KS: I read some­where that you’ve won 37 Amer­i­can Quar­ter Horse As­so­ci­a­tion world ti­tles. Is that true? JDY: That sounds right.

KS: When did you put so many of your ca­reer eggs into the horse­show bas­ket, and why’d you do it?

JDY: I needed to make a bet­ter liv­ing, and it was an­other av­enue where I could still do what I love to do, which is rope and ride horses. I learned so much from my dad and some of the best horse train­ers in the world. I worked for some great horse train­ers for free to learn from them while I was rodeo­ing. I was very lucky and I worked very hard. Once I started do­ing it, I loved it. I love work­ing with horses. It just es­ca­lated into a busi­ness.


How much are you get­ting to rodeo?

JDY: I’m go­ing to rodeo a lit­tle bit more this sum­mer. I’m for­tu­nate to have great help. I could prob­a­bly rodeo more than I do. But I also re­ally want to make sure to run my busi­ness right. Be­sides be­ing busy here, I spend a cou­ple months show­ing horses in Brazil, too. I travel a lot. I’m go­ing to try to get to 30 rodeos this year.

KS: How is horse­show rop­ing dif­fer­ent from rodeo rop­ing?

JDY: I don’t try to treat it any dif­fer­ently. A good heel horse is a good heel horse. I want the head horses to get on their butts a lit­tle more and run right to the spot at the horse shows, to show how broke they are. A re­ally good head horse that’s trained that way will last a long time. You can go on and rodeo on those horses a long time be­cause they’ve learned to use their back end and not drop their shoul­ders to get out of there.

KS: I know it was special to rope with your dad all those years (Dick and J.D. roped at 13 NFRs to­gether). What’s it like rop­ing with your son?

JDY: It makes me re­al­ize my dad’s an aw­fully strong man. I’ve roped for a lot of money all my life, and I’ve never been more ner­vous than back­ing in the box with my son at the BFI short round that first year.

KS: Rop­ing’s come a long way since your first Fi­nals 41 years ago. What are the big­gest changes you see?

JDY: Smaller cat­tle and shorter scores. I get asked all the time if the rop­ers to­day are bet­ter than they were back then. I’m never go­ing to be a be­liever in that. The ropes and equip­ment are bet­ter now and we roped a lot big­ger cat­tle—huge steers—over long scores back then.

KS: Con­grat­u­la­tions on get­ting in­ducted into the Pendle­ton Round-Up Hall of Fame this year! I know you won the steer rop­ing there in 1991, ’94 and ’01, and the Let ’er Buck all-around tro­phy in 1994. Do you like rop­ing on the grass?

JDY: Love it. Pendle­ton’s my fa­vorite rodeo of all time. It’s a cow­boy’s rodeo. When I com­pletely re­tire from rodeo­ing I’ll prob­a­bly keep my card to enter that rodeo. con­tin­ued

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