Parents are more often than not the most influential figures in a child’s life and for Charmayne James her father Charlie James stands for the life principles that have guided her to success and happiness.
I think probably the most important thing for me personally is that I had a great childhood. Both of my parents were there and they were always supportive. My parents provided us examples of support, solid values and high moral standards.
Another thing they instilled in us kids was that we were never better than anyone else. My dad treated everyone good and he never looked down on anyone, ever. An attitude of thinking that you were better than anyone else wasn’t tolerated in our family.
A major influence on my life was that my dad instilled a good work ethic in us as young kids. My sisters and I worked for him on the feedlot and he paid us. He wasn’t a slave driver, but we worked hard and had specific jobs that were important. We weighed cattle trucks into the feedlot, gathered cows with my dad and raised bottle calves to earn money in addition to other chores.
We learned to make money and to spend our money wisely. My dad taught us quite early in life about money management. He would pay us to clean the water troughs, clean the office at the feedlot and other jobs there on the weekends or when we were out of school.
When it came to rodeo, my dad taught me that if I wanted to go rodeo then I had to win. I understood that my family made sacrifices in order for me to get to do that and I knew how important it was to focus and learn to win. I recognized how important and necessary it was for me to ride my horse and care for my horse. If I wanted to rodeo, my dad made sure I knew that I had to work at it. My dad never rodeoed, but my grandfather did; he roped. But rodeo wasn’t something that my grandfather wanted my dad to do and he didn’t.
My parents let me be who I wanted to be and always encouraged me. They always made me feel like I could do anything I set my mind to. By being a silent supporter, my dad really managed to say a lot. My parents let me go with my rodeo goals as far as I could take them.
What was cool about my dad is that he was and still is a great horseman. He was always quiet and gentle and had great hands; horses liked him and responded well to him. There was never any jerking or pulling. To me, my dad defines what a good horseman is. We weren’t exposed to that jerking and snatching and if we ever did any of that it wasn’t tolerated — we didn’t get to ride. My dad’s horses liked him, they were confident and not scared of him.
When I got out on my own and saw how things happen in the rest of the world and how horses aren’t always treated with quite so much respect, I realized how truly blessed and fortunate I was to have his influence on my riding early in life.
The barrel horse I had before Scamper was an Appendix Quarter Horse gelding off the racetrack. Bardo Deck (“Bardo”) had been my older sister Eugenie’s horse, but she got married and moved away. I really wanted to ride Bardo and although he was big (16 hands) and powerful, my dad consented.
My dad and mom gauged things pretty well. They had the faith and confidence in me to put me on horses that I was ready for. Even now, there’s not much that I’m afraid of, and I might not be fearful enough sometimes, but they always let me take on a challenge. I think, knowing my personal-ity, that if my parents had always wanted me to cow down from challenges, then I might have quit (rodeoing) later on. Horses can be dangerous, but a strong horsemanship background attributed to my confidence in handling horses that my parents decided I was ready for.
I ended up winning about $15,000 on Bardo in two summers. He was five and I was nine.
When my dad spotted Scamper (Gills Bay
Boy) in the feedlot and had me ride him, he said, “Charmayne, now don’t get out and go to loping him right off. Walk and trot him for about 30 minutes or he’ll buck.” Scamper had a reputation and had already passed through several owners via horse sales in La Junta, Colo., Guymon, Okla., Clovis and Clayton, N.M.
So, sure enough, as soon as I got behind the barn and out of sight, I kicked him right into a lope. Scamper bucked a little and I laughed. When I laughed, he just kind of looked back at me like “Oh, it’s just you,” and went right on without any trouble.
When it came to winning and losing, my dad treated me the same whether I won or if I lost. If I didn’t do well, it wasn’t like I dreaded going home to face my dad. I learned from him that my worth was not based upon something I did, but on who I was. He’s the same way now; he’s equally as supportive and he’s proud of what I’m doing now as an instructor at my clinics.
My dad went with me to the AQHA World Show and helped me get my horses ready. I had two horses entered and it was perfect because my dad doesn’t scare them or go fast. That’s especially valuable when you’re warming up in a crowd with lots of commotion and energy.
My dad has had a big role on the nutrition side of caring for my horses. He worked with his nutritionist Dr. Gordon Wooden on the development of a feed ration for our horses when I was running Scamper. The recipe consisted of roasted Milo and other ingredients that Scamper thrived on during our career together. We later formulated Scamper’s Choice as a take-off on the original formula. My dad always made sure our horses had access to a good mineral supplement and he was very good at caring for a sick horse or sick animal of any kind.
Every parent serves as an example. The role models that a child has make a huge impact because it’s what they have to look up to through the course of their entire life. Parents that are supportive and that can work through issues or problems in a positive way are so important to their children. I’m not saying that parents have to always give, give, give either. It’s a reciprocal relationship requiring respect.
This article was originally published in the June 2007 issue of Barrel Horse News.