Home > Charmayne James > Charmayne's Biography


Charmayne came by her horsemanship talents naturally. Her dad, who always had an eye for good horses, worked as a feedlot cowboy before becoming an owner and operator of cattle feeding, ranching and farming interests in Clayton, New Mexico. Her grandfather was a cowman and steer roper. Her great-grandfather was a Choctaw Indian Light Horseman. Her mother was a rodeo queen who also barrel raced and team roped. Her grandmother was a World War I nurse who returned home and broke horses on the family’s dude ranch.

Charmayne grew up at her dad’s feedlot in Clayton. She took ballet and piano lessons, but her favorite activity was riding. Attending schools in Clayton, she was an honor roll student and excelled in art, basketball and track, but was always anxious to get home from school to ride.

Charmayne learned to ride bareback on an old cowpony called Redbug, and was always trying to keep up with her older sisters who had begun running barrels. As a member of 4-H, her projects included steers and horses. At age 10 her horse Creamer was named Grand Champion Gelding at the Union County Fair. She had trained Creamer to run barrels and that year won her first All Around Cowgirl title riding Creamer, a borrowed rope horse, and her sister’s pole bending horse.

Charmayne and Creamer receiving awards for Grand Champion Gelding at the Union County Fair

Knowing her horse Creamer was not fast enough to win bigger barrel races, Charmayne wanted another horse. Her sister’s barrel horse, Bardo Deck was for sale, so her Dad bought him and turned the high strung former California race horse over to Charmayne. After a couple months of constant riding alongside the feedlot cowboys working cattle, chasing antelope across the vast grasslands, and many trips around the barrels, Charmayne and Bardo were winning nearly every area barrel race they entered.

Late in 1981 Bardo broke his leg in a tragic accident and had to be euthanized. Charmayne was heartbroken. That winter she buried herself in school activities while telling her parents she had to get another horse. In the spring of 1982, after taking Charmayne to look at horses throughout the 5 State area, her dad, partly out of desperation, told Charmayne he liked a little bay horse down in the feedyard horse pens that was for sale. Charmayne countered that she had to have a race horse, but agreed to try the little bay. Before Charmayne got on him, her Dad told her not to kick him out at first because he was known to buck. Charmayne got on and after a few bucks she circled back and put him around the barrels. The two were an instant match. Charmayne paid $1200 for him with the rodeo winnings she had saved while riding Bardo. Her Dad said that was way too much money. They named him “Scamper” because of the way he scampered around the barrels.

Scamper had never seen a barrel, but had an excellent handle on him from all the feedyard riding. In the spring of 1982, after two weeks of training on barrels, Charmayne and Scamper won their first barrel race. That summer they won numerous barrel races and amateur rodeos in New Mexico, Colorado, Texas, Oklahoma and Kansas. That fall Scamper was kicked in the hock by another horse. Their vet recommended turning him out for six months with a 50-50 chance he would come back sound.

In April of 1983, when Scamper was 7, Charmayne began riding him again. At a vet checkup, after seeing Scamper’s ringbone, splints, and enlarged hock, Charmayne was told she had better get another horse going because Scamper “was not going to last”. By that summer she was winning amateur rodeos, sometimes by a full second. After entering with a WPRA permit, and winning the barrel race at the PRCA Dodge City Roundup Rodeo, Charmayne told her parents she wanted to start going to professional rodeos. They told her that was alright with them, but she would have to pay all her own rodeo expenses. When her dad asked her if she was going to try to make the National Finals Rodeo, she replied “No, I’m going to win the NFR”. She purchased her WPRA card later that year and began her professional rodeo career. This began one of the most amazing rodeo careers in history.

In 1994, after winning an unprecedented 10 World Championships, 6 National Finals Rodeo Championships, and over $1,000,000 in arena winnings, Charmayne retired Scamper. Her ability to care for Scamper and keep him running at the top of his game for over 10 years attests to her knowledge and talents. This was a phenomenal feat for the horse that “was not going to last”.

After retiring Scamper, Charmayne continued to achieve the eluding and difficult accomplishment of qualifying for the next 6 straight National Finals Rodeos with several different horses. In 2000 she qualified for the National Finals Rodeo and was Reserve World Champion with Cruiser, a former race horse she had purchased for $2,000 at New Mexico’s Clovis Livestock Auction and trained to run barrels. In 2002 she qualified for her 19th consecutive National Finals Rodeo riding Cruiser, winning her 7th National Finals Rodeo and 11th World Championship Title.

Charmayne and Cruiser at the NFR 1999.

Charmayne retired from her career in professional rodeo in 2003 and began a new career as a clinician and mentor, holding barrel racing clinics throughout the United States, Canada, South America and Australia.

At the forefront of her teaching is advocating a healthy mental attitude coupled with preparedness and physical conditioning for riders. She emphasizes the importance of proper care and treatment of our equine partners, and strives to pass on to her students her gifts of God given talents, staying cool under pressure, and the many proven techniques that led to her success. Never afraid to think outside the box to look for solutions, she never hesitates to consult with experts for help. Charmayne has become one of the world’s leading and most famous horsewomen. She has developed and markets her own line of saddles, equine products, instructional videos, DVDs and books. Charmayne, along with her sponsors, continue to promote and sponsor many rodeo and equine activities.

In addition to her career as a clinician, Charmayne is a devoted wife and mother. She and her husband, Marketing Specialist Tony Garritano, have two young sons, Tyler and Austin who have already won numerous baseball championships and are pursuing careers in professional sports. Both Charmayne and Tony support many youth activities as well as working to build a better and brighter future for rodeo athletes.