Team Yates just made headlines yet again at the American Quarter Horse Association World Show, which this year runs October 28 through November 20 at the OKC Fairgrounds in Oklahoma City. Daddy JD won his 45th AQHA open world championship in the junior heading, and son Trey won his very first open world title in the junior heeling. The cherry on top for these father-son dream teamers was that they headed and heeled for each other in both events.
This is no shocker, mind you. JD is one of the elite group of National Finals Rodeo switch enders that until now has also included Trevor Brazile, Mark Simon, David Motes, Speed Williams, Walt Rodman and Bret Beach. That sensational seven will be joined next month by Clint Summers and Quinn Kesler, when two guys formerly known as NFR heelers back in the Thomas & Mack box as headers this time.
With Trey heeling, JD won the 2021 AQHA junior heading world championship on Boons To The Moon, who’s owned by Lyle and Lorrie Grantham of Ackerly, Texas. With JD heading, Trey took the 2021 AQHA junior heeling championship on Peptos Hickory Cat, who’s owned by Tony and Kimberly Clinco of Snowmass, Colorado. Tony was Oprah Winfrey’s first personal chef. Trey and Peptos Hickory Cat—who’s “Sparky” for short down at the barn—also placed second at the 2021 American Rope Horse Futurity Association Finals the week before the World Show started.
“Dad and I both won world championships on Monday (November 8), so it was a pretty fun day,” said Trey, who next month will rope at his second NFR; he won the average at the first one heeling for Aaron Tsinigine in 2018. “I’ve helped people win a lot of world championships, but have never had one of my own before now.”
Trey and Peptos Hickory Cat were first out in the junior heeling finals among 20 entries, of which Trey was three.
“We had a steer I didn’t know, and he wasn’t very strong,” Trey said. “A lot of times at the horse shows, the stronger steers let you show your horse better. My dad did a good job of keeping him rolling. I got a lot of speed on my rope and just focused on roping sharp instead of worrying about my horse, because I know what he’s capable of as long as I do my job.
“After we went, I knew Sparky was really good. I just didn’t know if I had enough steer to win first. After the class was over, they took a break. They came back and told us there was a three-horse rope-off between me on Sparky, and Joseph Harrison on two horses. We were first out. My dad turned the steer, and the steer fell. I waited for him to get up. I roped him and dallied. The judges blew the horn, and gave us a rerun. Then we went and made another run on about the same caliber of steer. I caught him, and Joseph roped great, like he always does.”
The judges placed Trey and Sparky up top.
“I cried,” Trey said. “Tony and Kim cried. Dad cried. My grandpa (Dick Yates, who headed for JD at 13 of the 19 NFRs he heeled at) never cried, but he was pretty happy. I’ve won second behind Joseph at the futurity and the World Show, and I’ve been second behind my dad. I was getting a little tired of second. So it was pretty sweet to get a win of my own.”
I was standing next to JD in that grand ballroom at the South Point three years ago when Trey took center stage to pick up his first NFR back number. We both blubbered, and we can hardly wait to do it again when Trey and my son Taylor get their second NFR back numbers on that same stage in a couple weeks. They, too, are great friends, just like their grandpas. JD’s also an 11-time National Finals Steer Roping qualifier, and that makes me smile, as I’m in Mulvane, Kansas for Taylor’s first NFSR, which starts tonight.
“I’ve been so swamped at the futurity and the World Show that I haven’t had much time to think ahead to the NFR yet,” said Trey, who this year is heeling for Tyler Wade in Vegas. “I’m shifting gears now. And I’m looking forward to it. I’m happy to be going back, and I’m excited to get to rope there with Tyler at the Thomas & Mack.
“I have a lot of confidence in my horse and my partner. As long as I can keep a clear mind and just go have fun, I know that whatever’s meant to be will be. If a guy can get in a rhythm from the start, it can be an awesome 10 days. The plan is to start on Dude, who’s a horse my dad has won more AQHA points on than any horse he’s ever shown. Dude’s the bay I rode at the 2018 NFR. I’ll also take my sorrel we call Duke.”
Winning never gets old, and JD was as thrilled with #45 as any of them. But if you know JD, seeing his son win his first one just might beat all.
“It was an emotional moment,” JD said of Trey’s world title. “It was something he’s wanted. I walked down there and watched the results. When they called out second, I knew Trey had won it. It was definitely one of those emotional moments. He’s been so close, and he got it done. For me to win the heading and him to win the heeling roping together both ways made for a pretty cool day for our family. When we did the interview, Grandpa stood between us and got in on it. That was pretty neat, too.”