Article Written By: Erin Jusseaume Photos courtesy of Tuff Magic Promotions
Team Camarillo is making their mark on the Australian Barrel Racing Industry in recent years. The face and creator of Team Camarillo is seven-time National Finals Rodeo qualifier, inductee to The National Cowgirl Museum and Hall of Fame, and recipient of the National Cowboy Hall of Fame’s prestigious Tad Lucas award, Sharon Camarillo. Camarillo is considered one of the founding drivers for women in rodeo, more specifically barrel racing.
Camarillo along with her daughter, Storme Camarillo-Robbins, the mother-daughter team has traveled two consecutive years to North Queensland to hold a two day Better Barrel Racing Clinic for local riders. Riders of all ages, and diverse backgrounds leaped at the opportunity to gain knowledge and better practices from one of the worlds top trainers.
Camarillo and Storme as a team were brought over from the United States to North Queensland with the aid of local businesswoman and barrel racer Tracey Gilbertson. Tracey with the aid of Team Camarillo Australian contact Suzy Nairne, were able to fill a full school, bursting with aspiring barrel racers.
The 2015 clinic was held at the Charters Towers covered arena. Riders traveled from as far north as Mareeba, as far south as Central Queensland, and also drove in from Longreach to attend the two-day clinic.
Camarillo is also an author of multiple barrel racing training books, and as such has combined the vital knowledge and training tips, into a Better Barrel Racing Training guide. The clinic guide is a condensed version of her first few books, as it incorporates all skills required for training along with correct equipment needed and drills for rider and horse to excel in the sport.
Creating a solid foundation and good base line is pivotal to this sport. Hard work, and a range of skills and techniques are vital to running a good, solid winning run. This was the vital training information Team Camarillo put forth to all in attendance.
After the completion of the first year’s clinic, which was held at the Ruperstwood and District Horse Club grounds in Townsville, riders were overjoyed at the diligence of both Camarillo and Storme, with regards to their one-on-one time, and fair evaluations of their horses.
Team Camarillo stresses the importance of correct training and giving clear crisp commands to your horse. Constantly reminding all students, “horsemanship never goes out of style” could be heard from Camarillo throughout the clinic.
Horsemanship does not just come from years in the saddle, it drives from hard work, learning, and indulging in disciplines such as dressage or English hack, to sharpen your seat in the saddle and understand the foundations of basic movements with you and your horse. The ability to have multiple trainers and coaches to assist you and your horse’s development will only see you reach further in the sport then those who choose not to use all tools available to reach their best.
All instructors who are apart of Team Camarillo stress the importance of having a coach in training within the sport. The sport of barrel racing is no different to that of football, baseball, cricket or swimming to name just a few. A coach’s job is to help develop and sharpen skills to ensure you are competing at your best both in and out of competition.
Vicki Toomby, is one such coach that Sharon encouraged local riders to utilize. Toomby herself is a former Australian Barrel Racing Champion and also one part of Team Toomby Horsemanship based in Townsville. For years Toomby has promoted good, sound and solid horsemanship for any and all equine riders.
Developing a sound and successful business in the Australian rural and equine industries, Sharon has become close friends with the Toomby’s.
Toomby having attended a clinic whilst Team Camarillo was in Australia, the two talented cowgirls, are working together to continue the development of better barrel racing in the country.
Promoting the teachings of one another, there are those few riders that have taken the opportunity to be involved in clinics that have been conducted by both women in North Queensland.
The youngest riders that have attended the clinics to enhance their career and horsemanship skills, are now representing Australia on the world stage for two different associations that highlight barrel racing as a sport.
Young cowgirl Halana Haber, has been apart of the Team Camarillo Better Barrel Racing clinics for the last two years, and is now representing Australia in the Junior High School National Rodeo Finals in Des Moine, Iowa in June of 2015.
New comer to the clinic held earlier in March this year, is Townsville local cowgirl, 12 year old Kelsey Lenton. Kelsey attended the clinic with her mum, who also boasts as her trainer. The pair travelled to Perry, Georgia in the United States of America to represent Australia in the National Barrel Horse Associations World Youth Finals.
Kelsey was fortunate to win a buckle whilst at the NBHA World Youth Finals. Kelsey said of Sharon,”she was encouraging & explained things in a way she understood. “
Mum Lainie said,” We were very fortunate to do as well as Kelsey did in the arena, having done the clinic in Australia, helped set Kelsey up for when she worked with coaches at the Martha Josey Camp, we really appreciate what coaches can do to improve both the rider and the horse”
Both North Queensland girls, have become more dominant in recent months in a number of Barrel Racing circuits in Australia.
The achievements of both young cowgirls stem from hard work and diligence to achieve and develop their skills correctly. Also with the aid and support from a coach, and by extension Team Camarillo to assist with guidance and clarification on all general tips and techniques, strong holds to the importance of having a coach to ensure you train to your best level.
Young Kaitlyn Everingham also traveled with her mom, from Far North Queensland, approximately a 12-hour drive to where the clinic was held.
Kaitlyn’s mother Kaite, had this to say of Sharon and her clinic: “ Technically speaking it was a barrel racing clinic, but it literally changed the way Kaitlyn does everything. Sharon taught her how to set goals and how to go about achieving them. She taught her patience and resilience and the value of working your butt off to get where you want to be in barrel racing and in life. Kaitlyn’s schoolwork has improved and she’s become a confident mature young lady who has earned herself a few ABCRA and ATRA titles this season. I’m not exaggerating when I say that Sharon is as much a life coach as a riding coach. A beautiful lady and we’re blessed to have met her.”
This only reinforces the full experience of a Sharon Camarillo clinic, and that she aims to not just tackle the riding side. She is not only teaching her riding students the importance of a coach, but also the parents and spectators. Camarillo stresses and speaks to clinic attendees the importance of a good, confident mind when training and competing.
Knowing the stresses from first hand experience in competing at the sport’s highest levels, she incorporates the correct sport mentality that holds true for continued success in the arena.
The passion for barrel racing, the industry and developing horsemanship is clearly seen through their enthusiasm. Positive mentoring and a passionate drive to see each student excel is second to none.
The personal approach seen from Camarillo and her instructors was clearly visible at the end of the clinic, where nearly every cowgirl improved their time on the pattern after hard training for two days on horseback.
Junior Barrel Racer Cailan Evans, traveled 9 hours with her grandfather to attend the 2015 clinic. Cailan said, “Doing one of Sharon’s clinics was a dream come true. To be able to learn and be instructed by one of the best competitors of her time is a once in a lifetime opportunity.
“My grandfather, who travels me everywhere, was able to (observe) for the clinic,” she continued. “He liked the way Sharon instructed and her feedback to students was very helpful to us and other students. I would definitely attend another clinic instructed by Sharon to build on my skills and knowledge that she has helped lay the foundation for.”
Many trade secrets were shared to each individual who attended, to make their Better Barrel Racing clinic more personalized to their goals.
Bobbi-Shae Clarke said: “Sharon’s clinic gave me a new prospective when it comes to training my horses. Not only did Sharon give us our money’s worth over the two day clinic, but she has also provided follow up support allowing us to send her videos of our runs and giving us tips and helping us fix problems.”
Not only where the techniques and skills learned from the veteran champion priceless, but also the life lessons and phrases that carry into all aspects of a sporting career, personal development, and good cowgirl manners where soaked in.
“It’s no big deal”, as said by all instructors, to students throughout varied times of the day. These words designated to all students as a reminder that if it does not work correctly or the way you wanted it to, you can do it again. It’s no big deal.
It’s not often North Queensland sees world-renowned trainers, travel across the world to hold such a short clinic.
Camarillo has a long and aspiring resume for any cowgirl to strive to match. Sharon says it best on her website, “Today, my life is no longer about competition. It is about challenging myself to create and promote materials and products that allow others to follow in my footsteps; to dare others to carve out their own niche. I love research and I love to help others become the very best they can be.”
With Team Camarillo traveling the long miles, and promoting the sport of barrel racing in an industry that is still developing in Australia, it is no wonder cowgirls are lined up at the front gates to secure their spot for a once in a lifetime opportunity to ride, learn and be coached from one of the most successful cowgirls in the sport.