story by Lindsay King If Andee Jo Haden has anything to be proud of, it’s the barrel horse she’s made out of her gelding Superman. […]
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Meet the Member AJ Yocham
story by Lindsay King
Going into the ACRA finals, AJ Yocham from Haskell, Oklahoma, has worn a back number less than ten twice. An accomplishment he is truly proud of. “Wearing a back number in the top ten is pretty neat in my opinion, especially as a rough stock rider,” said the ACRA bareback rider. AJ also managed to win the very first professional rodeo he competed in back in 2011 in Franklin, Tennessee, with an 86.5 ride. “I enjoy getting on good bucking horses, it just feels right. I also enjoy most of the travel time, getting there and going back home.” In 2015, AJ hit the PRCA circuit full time. “The intensity of the crowd and caliber of every animal athlete out there, keeps you on the edge of your seat, you know something is going to happen. Denver was like that for me and that is why it is my favorite rodeo to compete in. I marked an 83 in the first round to split sixth and a 79 in the second.” At one point, AJ found himself standing next to a pen of Calgary bucking horses, making him feel the gravity and magnitude of Denver even more.
His humble beginning in rodeo comes from a “punk kid in high school who thought he was tough” and a grandpa who rode bulls. “Bareback riding was something that I just saw once and wanted to give a try. A buddy leant me his equipment and I rode at the Coweta rodeo for the first time. I enjoyed it, so I joined a junior rodeo association and the rest is history.” AJ continued to ride bareback through high school and went to Fort Scott Community College to rodeo. “My coaches there, Chad Cross and Jeff Sawyer, were the two that paved what little bit of road that I have traveled in rodeo. They taught me the fundamentals and how important they were for a good ride.” AJ rode both bulls and bareback horses but decided he was better on the horses. He credits Jack Self with getting him to go to college in the first place. “He’s a heck of a bareback rider. We traveled together for a while. He is about as motivationally strong as anyone I have ever seen.”
Partners in Yocham Backhoe Work, AJ is a heavy equipment operator alongside his dad in their construction company. “Dad first bought the company in 2005 and I worked for him after school and in the summer. It was not until 2013 that we became partners.” AJ likes to hunt deer, pigs, birds, ducks and pheasants in his spare time. “My daughter Raylynn was just born and I would imagine she will be about 90 percent of my hobbies for the rest of my life.” Although, AJ did buy his IPRA card for the first time this year. Luckily, ACRA events are just out his back door. “The stock contractors in the ACRA really try to take care of their competitors. They bring great horses to every rodeo and it makes it easier when the pen is even. I am lucky that my wife Danielle watches all the rodeo books for me to make sure I get entered on time. I don’t know what I would do without her.”
AJ is now working towards going into the finals with the number one on his back. “I am 28, so I am not sure how much long I can physically keep riding bareback horses. I made the prairie circuit finals in 2015, but I was hurt so I could not ride.” He is aspiring to one day take a shot at The American as well as going to the IFR in the top ten. “Rodeo is not something you just walk away from, years of cultivating relationships with fellow competitors, contractors and even the stock never leaves you. I am looking forward to climbing on in the sport for as long as I can.”