JD Yates just won his first-ever Salinas buckle in the California Rodeo Gold Card Roping heading for his good friend and Golden State rodeo and horse show cowboy Todd Hampton. It was shocking to me that JD had never headed at Salinas before. In fact, he’d only heeled at the tradition-rich team roping rodeo three times, and that was back in the day as a young lad heeling for his dad, Dick.
“The reason I’d only been to Salinas three times in my life is because it always fell during the first two rounds of the steer roping slack at Cheyenne,” said JD, who’s about to turn 63 on August 15. “Daddy and I won second there once, and I won quite a bit in the calf roping there. But I’d never won a Salinas buckle before.”
He and Hampton are old friends from their horseshow and rodeo circles.
“We both worked for Robbie Schroeder, and other trainers,” JD said. “Todd and I have been friends and have roped together at the horse shows for years. He asked me to come rope with him in the Gold Card roping this year, and I told him I wanted to rope in the rodeo, too. He already had another guy for that, but not five minutes later, Kyle Lockett called and asked me to rope in the rodeo. I said, ‘You’re damn rights.’”
It was game on, and JD hauled his own horse from Colorado to Cali. He’s a big 8-year-old sorrel Yates has had since he was 3 who’s out of a straight Thoroughbred mare and by a stud out of sister Kelly’s great gray barrel mare Firewater Fiesta.
Eeyore’s the horse Daddy Dick did so well on at the Ariat World Series of Team Roping Finale in Vegas last December, and what JD’s been heading on since selling his last good one, Mr Joes Shadow Box, to Clint Summers. Joe was named Head Horse of the BFI earlier this year.
“I don’t do this for the money anymore,” said 21-time NFR team roper JD, who’s also won 45 AQHA World Championships. “I do it for the love of the sport, and for the competition. I totally enjoyed my trip to Salinas, and it was my first Gold Card roping. I got to see old friends like Frankie Ferreira. Winning was a bonus.
“I finally got a Salinas buckle, and I’m damn proud of it. There are a few buckles in the world you notice, and that’s one of them. Todd’s grandfather won Salinas in 1962. It was pretty cool that Todd and I both got to win our first Salinas buckle with a good friend.”