For a family who loves the sport of rodeo, there’s a common thread that bonds them together – passion. They share a passion for the sport, passion for the competition and passion for a good horse that knows its job. And they also understand that a well-trained, healthy horse can mean the difference between bringing home a paycheck or not.
“Whether you are a horse trainer or contestant at a rodeo, the horse is what makes you successful. And if you don’t have a good horse, somebody’s gonna beat you. Or, if you don’t do a good job getting your horse prepared, somebody can beat you because the horse is what you compete on to be successful. You know there’s no other way to put it. The horse is what makes a person successful,” said J.D. Yates, Pueblo, Colorado.
J.D. has a legendary history in the horse training and rodeo business. He holds the record for being the youngest contestant to ever qualify for the National Finals Rodeo, making his first of 21 appearances in 1975, when he was only 15 years old. That year and many following years he heeled for his father, Dick. Less than a decade later, he was part of another record-setting threesome, as the first and only father-son-daughter trio to qualify for the Finals in the same year. In 1984, J.D. and Dick again qualified in team roping and Kelly competed in barrel racing. Even with years of success under his belt, being in the business with his family has been special.
“One highlight is my son, Trey. He’s a huge highlight. Another is when me, my dad and my sister all made the Finals in the same year,” J.D. said. “And my next highlight is my next win. I love to win. You’re only as good as your next win, and you never know when that is going to come so you always cherish that win. Regardless of how many wins you’ve had.”
Son Trey agrees that it has been a highlight for him to rope with his dad, and he appreciates the support, coaching and encouragement he’s had along the way, without ever being pressured into the rodeo lifestyle. He started riding when he was 11, and really grew into it his junior year of high school. With guidance and support from his family, he won the College National Finals Rodeo in 2018, also the first year he qualified for the NFR, where he won the average that year.
Through his own accomplishments, Trey said nothing compares with roping with his dad.
“The best time I ever had is when I roped with him (J.D.). We were fortunate to have some success even at some of the major rodeos, and it was just a lot of fun. I learned a lot and was very lucky to have a good mentor like that. I’m thankful that my granddad and dad took me a lot of places and turned me a lot of steers. Nothing will ever compare to that,” said the youngest Yates.
And speaking of granddad, J.D. reports even in his 80s, Dick is still roping, and passes on the credit for his success to him.
“He’s 83 and still is a very successful roper. Two years ago, in Las Vegas, Nevada, he won $111,000 in one day, at 81 years old! He was the mastermind behind the horses the whole time I was growing up. And, you know, he knew a lot about it and would teach me a lot about it but also, he knew that you had to work and have a job too, and then rodeo. So, we only got to spend a certain amount of time doing it, but he was the mastermind behind the horses that I rode when I was young,” J.D. said.
Currently J.D. said there are between 40-50 horses at their place, with about half of those horses he is training for other owners. Good training is imperative, because as he reminds the success of the rider goes back to the horse. That is why he said it is important to treat that horse like you, the human, would want to be treated, and one reason he has chosen to use the Vitalize® products. For instance, if a horse has been working hard or stalled on concrete all day or hauled long distances, their joints are going to be sore; just like ours would be. Therefore, J.D. says they need to be compensated.
“I don’t know that every horse I have needs Hyaluronex® Joint, but every time I feel like one needs to have it, I give it to him, and I can see a difference. You have to be smart enough and care enough for the individual that you compete on. You take care of him like you want to be a winner; if you want your horse to let you be a winner, he’s got to feel as good as you can let him feel,” J.D. said.
“You’ve got be open to new ideas and open to the modern medicine that helps the individual perform well and is good for their joints and good for their coats and good for their morale. You know it’s kind of like showing up at a rodeo in a junk car; you probably ain’t gonna perform that well. And you show up on a horse that’s fit, looks good and rides around well, then your chances are a lot better,” he added.
In addition to supplements, like Hyaluronex, that provides natural ingredients and the most researched hyaluronic acid available, MHB3® Hyaluronan, for total support of a horse’s joints and soft tissue health throughout performance, recovery and aging, Trey shared some of his advice for keeping his horses feeling their best when hauling them. First, he lets them rest as often as possible and turns them out when they are not preparing for competition. He also bathes them regularly, which helps relieve their stress. When they are turned out or when he is traveling, he tries to find big enough pens where they can run, buck and roll, as he said that rolling will also help crack their backs, another stress reliever.
Since digestive health is at the core of all equine health, the Yates duo has also been using Vitalize Alimend® and Vitalize Recovery Gel to ensure their horses have a good gut feeling. Alimend is a natural product that supports gastric health and the G.I. tissue and is a unique blend of MHB3® Hyaluronan, H. erinaceous (Lion’s mane) extract, and Amaferm®, a precision prebiotic designed to boost animal resilience to challenges. It is research-proven to improve gut integrity and immune response. Recovery Gel is ideal for the traveling and stress that the Yates’ horses endure, as it is a quick-response gel that also contains Amaferm, antioxidants to help boost immunity and valuable nutrients needed during stress.
As the newest Vitalize ambassadors, Trey Yates and J.D. Yates share the passion for keeping their horses stay healthy so they can perform their best. That is the same goal of the Vitalize products to provide a good gut feeling, while also providing a natural, proactive approach to sustainable soundness. A healthy horse is a happy horse.
“I think that’s been a very lucky part of my career and life in general; I’ve always been told to do whatever it takes to be happy,” Trey said of his family’s encouragement. Healthy, happy horses and happy, hard-working cowboys and cowgirls make a winning combination both in and out of the arena. Welcome to the Vitalize family, Trey and J.D.!