Colorado's Yates family has owned the little black horse they call "Tux" for the last 10 years, and the shiny black gelding has turned heads from the AQHA show pen to the rodeo road.
But this year at the Bob Feist Invitational, the roping industry's best gave the gelding registered as In the Nic of Shine his due, voting him the BFI's Top Heel Horse of 2020.
"It’s a really special award," Trey Yates, who won the average at the 2018 NFR, said. "I think we’ve won this same award with two head horses and two heel horses now at the house. It’s pretty special award because that’s what we do every day here—try to make good horses and rope sharp. So it’s a gratifying feeling. He was awesome that day, so for other people to see that too is really special."
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Trey's dad J.D. bought the gelding, who's by Nic It In the Bud out of the Shining Spark mare Shining Magic Spark, from Nebraska's Jim Bounds.
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"Jim roped calves on him and maybe showed him in the amateur a bit," Trey said. "We got him at the World Show that year. My dad rode him until he was 10, and then I took over."
During J.D.'s time on Tux, he made the Finals at the AQHA World Show in the heading, heeling and calf roping, placing in each event. They also loaned him out to Brazilian friends who won reserve world titles in the amateur breakaway and amateur tie-down.
"And at every rope horse futurity my dad won or placed at, he's been the horse I've ridden helping. I think he gets credit for helping on five heading world titles, too."
Trey took Tux to college with him to jackpot on when he left for Laramie County Community College, and that's where he and the horse really found their groove.
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"I roped calves on him, and we just started jackpotting heeling and we clicked one day," Trey said. "It took quite a few runs and roping a lot of steers consistently on him."
At the BFI in Guthrie, Oklahoma's Lazy E Arena, Tux helped Yates and partner Matt Sherwood to an aggregate time of 51.63 seconds on six head, worth $16,000.
"I think every horse serves a special purpose, and he reads the steers really well through the corner for me, and he doesn’t get quick. He really knows how to take a jerk easily. He stops hard and puts a good finish on the run and it’s not hard for him." TRJ