At the young age of 14, Charmayne James earned the title of World Champion Barrel Racer. It was a title that she continued to hold for the next 10 years.
Her story begins in Clayton, New Mexico with little more than open spaces, practice barrels and a drive to succeed. Proving that with grit and determination anything is possible, the young barrel racer began her lifelong career filled with success at every turn.
Each of the consecutive ten titles was achieved with the same horse – Scamper. James became a member of the Women's Professional Rodeo Association in 1984, when she was awarded Rookie of the Year honors. She earned National Finals Rodeo qualifications for 19 consecutive years, also beginning in 1984, and was National Finals Rodeo Average Champion seven times. In 1992, James was inducted into the National Cowgirl Hall of Fame in Fort Worth, Texas. With her horse, Cruiser, James won the 2002 WPRA World Championship, her 11th WPRA World Title. This legendary barrel racer and horsewoman has been heralded by professionals across the world as "one of the greatest horse people of all time."
Her name identifies an industry. Say "Charmayne" and it's like dropping Babe Ruth's moniker or Michael Jordon's or Lance Armstrong's. People who don't even follow the sport know that Charmayne James is the greatest barrel racer of all time.
Her record speaks volumes. She's the all-time leading money earner in the sport - the first-ever million-dollar earner. She's won the most professional barrel racing world championships (11) and was the first Women's Professional Rodeo Association member to earn the coveted #1 back number at the National Finals Rodeo. She holds the record for most consecutive NFR qualifications (19) for men or women, and she's won more individual world championships than any other woman in professional sports. She's also listed in the Guinness Book of World Records.
Charmayne conducts barrel racing clinics that are booked years in advance, and she's in demand as a speaker/clinician at horse expos and events worldwide. She's been featured in every major horse publication, as well as in Sports Illustrated, People Magazine, USA Today and others, and has appeared on "Good Morning America," the CBS "Morning Show," ABC "Wide World of Sports," and other major programs.
She burst on to the professional rodeo scene in 1984, winning the first of eleven world championships before her fifteenth birthday. In the next nineteen consecutive years, she qualified for every National Finals Rodeo and became the most decorated female equine athlete of all time.
Although in the beginning she was discounted as just another kid with a great horse, rodeo fans around the world soon realized that this rider had something extra. She had trained Scamper herself, and had actually trained her prior mount, one she earned over $20,000 on before switching to Scamper.
And she never stopped learning. Absorbing knowledge like a sponge, Charmayne has worked with trainers, equine health professionals, nutritionists, and other experts to always be on the leading edge of competition-based horse care.
In a world where longevity is measured more in months than years, she kept Scamper sound and winning in world class competition an incredible ten years--over three times as long as the industry average.
Charmayne retired from rodeo competition in 2003, and began to devote herself to training horses and riders with the same single-minded determination that earned her over $2 million in the arena.
"The number one reason I am so passionate about this business is so I can let everyone know why I was so successful and hopefully help them along their own road to success," she says. "I won by following what I was always taught about my horses--treating them well, taking good care of them, making sure that I ride well enough so that they're never confused or hurt--and always keeping my focus on taking care of business."
This icon of women's rodeo reveals that she also won because, to keep going, she had to. "I didn't have a wealthy family or a big sponsor. I did have a horse I had faith in and parents that believed in me. They said we could keep going to the professional rodeos as long as we could pay our way."
"I knew that if I could be a good partner to Scamper, we could win. I had to believe in myself and stay true to what I knew worked for me, even when it was new and intimidating to compete against people who had been there longer and won more. Once I learned to do that, we began to be successful."
She continues, "My lifelong passion for running barrels kept me studying and working to find ways to make it easier for my horses to win. In my book, I share what my years of experience have taught me."