Journal on the Road

World’s Greatest Horseman Shootout – Battle in the Saddle

July 10, 2010

AQHA Professional Horseman J.D. Yates wins the World’s Greatest Horseman Shootout on Bald N Shiney during Battle in the Saddle in Oklahoma City.

By Larri Jo Starkey

J.D. Yates turns a cow in the working cow horse portion of the World's Greatest Horseman Shootout at Battle in the Saddle in Oklahoma City.

Many years ago, during one of the early World’s Greatest Horseman contests, J.D. Yates climbed aboard Bald N Shiney. They finished in 11th place, J.D. remembers.

This year, during Battle in the Saddle, J.D. and “Hank” teamed up once more to try to earn a free entry into the 2011 World’s Greatest Horseman contest, competing against seven other horsemen representing the National Reining Horse Association, the National Cutting Horse Association, the American Rope Horse Futurity Association and AQHA’s ranch remuda group.

After separate cutting, reining, roping and working cow horse events, J.D. and the 16-year-old gelding came out on top.

“It’s a great honor to win something like this, but I’m fortunate,” J.D. says. “I got to ride a great horse. That’s three-fourths of the battle. If I were half as good a rider as he is a horse, I could probably win a ton on him.  It’s pretty emotional, pretty exciting. When the excitement goes out of winning, you need to quit, and I tell you, the butterflies that I had…”

Hank is owned by Nelle Murphy of Burneyville, Oklahoma, who watched all the action intently.

“He just likes to be a show horse,” she says. “That’s his spot – in the arena. Every event you put him in, he tries hard and does his best. He likes to be a show horse. I think we’ve got a chance (at World’s Greatest).”

Of the events, J.D. was most concerned about the cutting.

“I had great friends who helped me in the cutting, which was an event I’m not real strong in,” he says. “When there’s a cow in the arena, usually I have a rope in my hand chasing it.  My turnback help basically talked me through it the whole time, and without them, this wouldn’t be possible, so I can’t thank those guys enough.”

J.D. plans to practice cutting and reining before World’s Greatest Horseman.

“If I’m going down there to represent the Battle in the Saddle, myself, Nelle and Don on their horse, we’re going to win. We’re not going to be an entry. We’re going to win.”

To see photos from this Battle in the Saddle contest, watch the slide show below. Click on the photos to see the captions. To get complete results, go to

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