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Setting Records in Barrel Racing. The Story of Charmayne James.

By Edited Dec 14, 2015 1 1

In the world of rodeo there is an event that is dominated by women.

Barrel racing is a fast paced event in which a rider on a horse will attempt to complete a clover-leaf pattern around a set of three barrels and sprint to the finish line.

Charmayne James(43431)

The competition in this event is to run the pattern in the fastest time. Boys and girls will compete in barrel racing at a young age but in competitive events held with older contestants, it is primarily a rodeo event for women.

The sport of barrel racing combines the horse's extreme athletic ability and the outstanding horsemanship skills of the rider in order to safely and successfully run a horse through a clover leaf pattern around three barrels (typically three fifty-five gallon metal or plastic drums) placed in a large triangle in the center of an arena.  It is important to make the run as fast as possible and to have a “clean” run.  This means to circle each barrel without knocking one over.  A five second penality is assessed to the fime time for each barrel that is knocked over.  In most competitions, knocking over a barrel will usually take the rider out of the running for the fastest time.The barrel is typically knocked over if the horse turns to sharply and bumps into it.

In timed rodeo events, the purpose is to make a run as fast as possible, while the time is being clocked either by an electronic eye, (a device using a laser system to record times), or by a person in the arena timing with a stop watch.  This person will watch a judge who manually takes the time using a keen eye and a small flag is snapped to let the timer know when to hit the stopwatch; though this last method is more commonly seen in local and non-professional events.

The time begins when the horse and rider cross the start line, and ends when the barrel pattern has been successfully executed and horse and rider cross the finish line going out of the arena. The time usually depends on several factors, most commonly the horse's physical and mental condition, the rider's horsemanship abilities, and the type of ground or footing (the quality, depth, content, etc. of the sand or dirt in the arena).  A good athletic horse that loves to run but is well-disciplined is extremely important in this event. 

Charmayne James

In the world of barrel racing there is one woman that has dominated the event so completely that no one has been able to touch her in earnings, records, and fame.  Ask any barrel racer who their personal idol is in the sport and they will all give you the same name, Charmayne James.   

Charmayne James began riding horses at the tender age of three and was running barrels by the time she was six years old.  Her father, Charlie, whom she was named after, was a manager of a large feedlot in Clayton, New Mexico at the time.  She had often said that all she ever wanted to do was ride horses. 

When she was eleven years old she bought a mean-tempered horse from the feedlot.  Scamper was four years old and had thrown one previous owner, putting him in the hospital.  Another owner just thought he had a mean look in his eyes and decided he didn’t want him.  By the time Charmayne bought him, he had been through several owners that had given up trying to do much with him.  She paid about $1200 for him at the time.  A couple of times through the years she was offered a “blank check” for him but refused the offers. 

Once she got Scamper, she put on her spurs and went to work.  Once he figured out that he wasn’t going to buck her off, he settled down and cooperated with her.

Charmayne spent two weeks training him how to run barrels and then hauled him to their first small-time competition together. They won their very first run at that small-time competition and continued to win.  Charmayne went onto to win eleven consecutive World Championships at the National Finals Rodeos.  Ten of these were on Scamper.  The first World Championship in 1985 came when she was just fourteen years old!  She qualified for 19 consecutive National Final Rodeos before she retired.  This set a record for all contestants for all events in the sport of rodeo. 

Charmayne trained her own horses for barrel racing.  Before she purchased Scamper at the age of eleven, she had trained another horse and had won $20,000 on him.  She has said that she didn’t come from a wealthy family and she knew that if she wanted to compete in the sport of rodeo that she had to win to pay for her expenses.  She started competing in rodeo full time at the age of thirteen.  By the time she was sixteen years old she had won a fully customized dually pickup truck and had put on 100,000 miles that year hauling to rodeo’s. 

Charmayne’s history in the sport says it all. She is the all-time leading money earner in the sport of barrel racing and was the first-ever million-dollar earner. She was also the first Women's Professional Rodeo Association member to earn the coveted #1 back number at the National Finals Rodeo.  With her long impressive list of awards she has won more individual world championships than any other woman in professional sports. She's also listed in the Guinness Book of World Records.

After Charmayne retired from barrel racing in 2003 she began to devote her time to training and coaching others in the sport of barrel racing.  She credits her success with Scamper to treating all of her horses well and taking good care of them.  It has always been important to her to have excellent horsemanship skills so that the horses understood what she wanted from them without becoming confused. 

She also spends her time studying nutrition and working with equine health professionals and other experts to improve equine health so that the animals are able to compete at high levels.  It was because of this that she was able to keep Scamper competing long after many horses in the industry are finished.  She has gone onto to build a large business by offering the best products available for riders and horses in the world of barrel racing.

Charmayne stated, “My lifelong passion for running barrels kept me studying and working to find ways to make it easier for my horses to win.”  That is exactly what a true cowgirl always does, puts her animals first!

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Comments

Mar 13, 2011 7:44pm
Scale-of-1-to-10
What a great story about Charmayne James! I'll have to forward this to my daughter- she would love this article. Thanks for this! :)
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