Photo: Charmayne James and her horse Scamper teamed up to win 10 of James’ 11 barrel racing World Championships.

 

By Dave Rogers

For The Record

Charmayne James has been to the mountaintop. Eleven times.

Now the 11-time world champion barrel racer is bringing Orange County a look at what it took to get there.

James is putting on a four-day Barrel Racing Clinic Thursday June 22 through Sunday June 25 at Orange’s Tin Top Arena.

“I have a real passion for teaching, helping people with their horses, hopefully making their lives a little easier,” James said.

“The thing about it is barrel racing doesn’t really have coaches per se. A lot of people do it on their own. I try to get people to have an awareness of what their horse is doing, what their hands, their body is doing and focus on that.

“People I’ve taught have had a lot of success. Seeing them do that is as good as winning a rodeo for me.”

A New Mexico native who now makes her home in the San Antonio area, James retired from mainstream competition in 2003.

But not before she won world championships in the only women’s event that’s sanctioned by the Pro Rodeo Cowboys Association (PRCA) in 1984 through 1993 and again in 2000.

James was only 14 years old when she won her first of 10 straight titles.

She rode the same horse, Scamper, on that 10-year run, after buying him for only $1,100.

“In our business, your horse is everything, for sure,” she said. “My whole life people said, ‘Charmayne James would be nothing without Scamper.’ It was true.

“But he taught me a lot. Even though I didn’t win a WC [without Scamper from 1994-1999], I continued to make the World Finals.

“Cruiser, a horse I paid $2,000 for, won a world championship [in 2000]. Then I stopped to raise my kids.”

James said people who try to spend their way to a winner’s belt buckle have it all wrong.

“A lot of people think you have to have a lot of money to go win a world championship,” she said.

“I spent $1,100 on Scamper, $2,000 on Cruiser and won 11 world titles. I tended to my business, took care of my horse and it paid off.”

Naturally, James’ clinics focus on the bond between rider and mount.

“I just talk a lot about having respect for the horse, taking care of them. How a horse’s mind is right,” she said.

“A lot of my success was that bond with that horse. When you need that horse to pull through one day, you’d better have that horse on your side.”

James begins her clinic by evaluating the horses. She has a dentist check the horses’ mouths to be sure the bits and bridles are fitted correctly. There’s a vet to check them, too.

“I get on and ride all the horses, just so I know all the horses,” James said.

“I wouldn’t expect a young rider to do something with that horse that an experienced rider can do with them. So if you teach them, it makes a difference.”

Friday and Saturday, the second and third days, are for drills.

“Basically, it’s putting good horsemanship in place, running barrel, just details: how they’re sitting, where there weight is, how their hands are,” James said.

“It’s a little bit like driving in a race car, keeping your eyes forward, your eyes on where you’re going.”

Saturday afternoons and Sundays are for barrel racing.

“Sunday is competitive barrel racing,” James said. “We make some tweaks and changes, so as they compete they kinda know what to do.”

The clinic is open to all ages.

“My youngest student has been five and my oldest student has been 72,” she said.