Professional Preparation

2008 Leading Exhibitor J.D. Yates gives helpful hints on warming up your horse before the show.

Originally published in The American Quarter Horse Journal with contributions from Kristin Syverson

This year’s leading exhibitor, J.D. Yates of Pueblo, Colorado, offers his thoughts on getting ready to head into the show ring. J.D. will be presented with his high-point award at the annual AQHA Convention March 6-10 at the Grand Hyatt in San Antonio.

Tie-Down Roping

Team Wrangler member, AQHA Professional Horseman and restricted judge J.D. Yates says preparing his roping horses correctly is half the battle.

“I work my roping horses in the rope; I toss the rope out and stop them, step off and work the rope to get my horse’s attention before I go into the pen,” he explains. “If for nothing else, it is to give me the peace of mind that I have the horse’s attention and that he has his mind on the

business at hand. It also lets me know that the horse is paying attention to me instead of looking around at everything else.”

Your horse's conformation may play a role in how he needs to be warmed up, as well. Download AQHA’s FREE American Quarter Horse Conformation Standardsreport for easy-to-read tips on recognizing proper horse conformation.

J.D. says the older and more seasoned the horse, the less warmup time it needs.

“I think it is just like any event: I want to ride my horse enough to definitely get the edge off and get his mind in the game –  not thinking about anything else,” J.D. says.

Self Preparation

“When you enter the arena, two to three goes before yours, it’s time to build yourself up,” J.D. says. “Leave your horse alone and try to keep him from being nervous and get yourself ready to compete. I try not to get myself ready until I am in the arena, ready to play. I tell myself to rope sharp and be aggressive. Basically, I leave my horse alone and let him do his job.”

Yates says he often sees horses that don’t work very well, and it’s caused by the way the rider ropes.

“Your horse works as sharp as you do; if you don’t have your mind set, the horse won’t either.

In addition to the right mind set, your horse also needs to be conformed correctly to work sharp. Increase your knowledge of correct horse conformation by downloading AQHA’s American Quarter Horse Conformation FREE report.

“I prepare my horse before I go in the arena. If I have to prepare it one run in advance, it’s too late. I think it is a lack of responsibility on the trainer’s part if the horse isn’t ready.

“Every horse is like a person. It can have a bad day. There are a lot of variables in roping events, but as far as technique, we should have it all programmed before we ever leave the house.”

Go to QuarterFest on Our Dime!

AQHA members have a great opportunity to win a trip to QuarterFest: A Celebration of the American Quarter Horse. This one-of-a-kind event, May 1-3 in Murfreesboro, Tennessee, will be a chance to ride, touch, observe and learn how to care for your American Quarter Horse.

If you’ve visited AQHA’s new web site, – and you want to visit QuarterFest – here’s the deal: In 200 words or less, tell us which tip on you have benefited from most, and explain why. On the site, you’ll find tips and advice on training, recreational riding, showing, horse health and breeding – so you have lots to choose from.

Send us your entries no later than March 27. And please adhere to the word limit; longer essays will be disqualified. We’ll only accept one entry per person. The contest is open to AQHA members over age 18, and the winner will be notified by April 3.

The prize includes airfare to Murfreesboro from anywhere within the contiguous United States, hotel accommodations and event admission. Visit America’s Horse Daily for complete rules and to submit your entry.