Scamper's Stats with Charmayne James PDF Print E-mail

In 1984 a lot of things were different...

by Charmayne James with Bonnie Wheatley

   Ronald Reagan won election to the highest office in the United States in a landslide vote, “big hair” and acid wash jeans were both cool, and in the world of rodeo, Gills Bay Boy was on his way to making the names of“Scamper” and Charmayne synonymous with world championships.

   Although many things were different then, Scamper and Charmayne remained a constant atop the Women’s Professional Rodeo Association barrel racing standings for 10 consecutive years. They teamed up to make her the first $1 million professional cowgirl in 1990, while he was named the WPRA’s Horse With the Most Heart in 1986, 1988-1993, the AQHA Barrel Horse of the Year from 1990-1993, the AQHA’s Silver Spur Award recipient in 1992 and the first and only barrel horse ever inducted into the Professional Rodeo Cowboy’s Association Hall of Fame.

   Some have speculated if Scamper could do what he did in the ’80s and early ‘90s in today’s era of high speed Internet, text messaging and of course very fast barrel horses. Without a doubt, if you ask Charmayne and others, Scamper would more than hold his own.

   I’ve come to realize that while many people know the story of Scamper and how he and I won 10 world championships together, there are a lot of people new to the barrel racing industry that don’t know the whole story—or they might only have heard some of the myths.

   As a kid, I had been running barrels at amateur rodeos for about two years and doing well when my horse, Bardo, broke his leg. As a young girl, and even now just thinking about it, it was a very devastating experience. My horse was my best friend, and although we tried to save him and hauled him to a vet in Fort Collins, Colo., from Clayton, N.M., the bone was shattered, and there was nothing that could be done, so he was put down.

Scamper’s Journey to Clayton

   Scamper was raised by Buddy Draper, of Wetmore, Colo., but early on, he bucked Buddy off and hurt him, putting him in the hospital. From Drapers, he went through horse auctions in La Junta, Colo., Guymon, Okla., Clovis and finally Clayton, N.M., ending up at our feedlot, where one of the cowboys, Ron Holland, put the handle on him. Ron Holland was slow and patient with him. He took his time with Scamper and got along with him fine, but he never fought him. Scamper was 4 when I started him on the barrels and 7 at the time of our world championship in 1984; I was 14.

A Perfect Little Horse

   Of course I wanted a horse to replace Bardo, and my family looked at prospects at the racetrack and various places, but anytime we found one that might work, something would happen—like the horse wouldn’t be very broke or sound. So time went by, and I kept nagging my parents about another horse. Then one day, my dad mentioned a little bay horse in his feedlot that I could try. I remembered seeing him there in the pen and thinking even then that he was a perfect looking little horse.

   My dad told me I could ride him, but warned me that he was cold backed. He said “do not lope him right off.” My sisters and I were fearless kids and rode all the time, so I saddled him up and took him out behind the barn where no one could see me, and, of course, I kicked him into a lope because my dad had said not to.

   Scamper dropped his head and bucked a little, but I just kind of giggled because I didn’t really know any better, and he looked at me, and right then, it was apparent that he loved little girls, and he loved me. He was always a little “humpy,” but I ignored it and just went on with it, and he never really bucked hard. I think a lot of it had to do with the fact that I didn’t take the threat of it too seriously and never tensed up thinking about it when I rode him. Looking back, I probably should have been a little more fearful, but I knew that he would never hurt me.

   Scamper was so broke. He had an amazing handle on him and was very light from the beginning. He had been ridden on my dad’s feedlot and had sorted a lot of cattle and was a very agile mover.
 
   When I began taking him around the barrels, he was so broke and athletic that I could lope him around the barrels almost immediately. His conformation was so perfectly balanced and suited to it that he took right to the pattern. That’s how he got his name. My dad was watching him and commented, “He sure wants to Scamper around those barrels.”
 
   Not too long after he started winning at some local barrel races, he got kicked. I went out in the pasture to catch him and found that another horse had kicked him, so we hauled him to Truman Smith, a veterinarian in Raton, N.M. He said to blister it and turn him out for the winter, and he gave him a 50/50 chance of coming back sound.

   So we treated him and turned him out that winter in what turned out to be a very hard winter. There was a foot of snow on the ground for what seemed like all winter long. When we got Scamper in the next spring, he was wild with a capital W! After riding him and discovering that he recovered well that winter, we hauled to the Josey Junior World, where he strained a ligament in his stifle, and I had to get off of him again for a while. I also wrecked my 4-wheeler after the rodeo at Greeley that summer and had to take a break.

   That was in 1983, the year I got my WPRA card after winning the rodeo at Dodge City, Kan., and filling my permit. While we were at Martha’s, she saw what a good horse Scamper was and offered to buy him, but to my family, it was never about the money. We all loved Scamper.
 
   Scamper hit his peak, I’d say, in 1986-87. He was always good, solid and consistent, but in those years, he was unstoppable. He dominated. I believe that every good horse peaks at some point and runs the very best of their entire career during that time period. Even during Scamper’s “non-peak” years, he was still awesome. Even when he earned the last world championship in 1993, he was running strong, despite some arthritis.
 
   In 1985, Scamper won five go rounds at the NFR (today those five go rounds would be worth $66,970), and we hit two barrels, one of them to win the go round, and we placed in every other go round. In 1986, Scamper and I won the average. It paid $11,484 to win the average that year. It was in 1985 that my bridle fell off on Friday the 13th during the seventh go round, and we still won the round.

   One person who has witnessed and captured on film as many of Scamper and Charmayne’s winning moments as anyone is Kenneth Springer. While photographing the action at the 1985 Finals, he saw Scamper win the seventh go round sans bridle and recalls that as his most vivid memory of the two:

   “When Charmayne won that go round, she was just so dominant at the time," Springer said, "and you knew it was a great thing she had done, but it took maybe a decade for it to really sink in how phenomenal those two were together and what an important moment that was. She had to do everything you’d normally do in a run, balance that bit in his mouth after the bridle broke and keep it all going, which she did seamlessly.

   “The bridle broke, and Charmayne’s focus was on keeping that bit in Scamper’s mouth for as long as she possibly could. When he finally spit it out while turning the third barrel, she went to the bat. I don’t think anyone would have predicted her to do that. Most people would have been thinking about how to get stopped at that point, and she goes for a go round win. That spoke volumes about her as a focused, quick thinking and athletic individual.

   “That was before digital cameras, and I knew I literally had one shot to capture that moment. Scamper would absolutely have held his own were he running today. He was so incredibly consistent. There were great horses that gave him a run for those titles, and he and Charmayne always pulled through in the end.”


“Scamper had it all”

   Scamper had a great style coupled with great speed. He had the speed and the turn. He was so smooth, but he proved his speed to me at times when he would get by the first barrel a stride and have to make up for it and still win the rodeo by two tenths. I remember one year at the rodeo in Molalla, Ore., we got by the first barrel a little, came out of the second at a really funny angle and made a big swoop going to the third barrel, and with tons of mistakes, he won it by three tenths. He could turn, he was very fast between the barrels, and he was very, very, very solid.

   The cool thing with Scamper is that some horses are ratey and some are free runners, and he had the perfect combination of both styles. Even when he ran all out, he always turned and worked. I never had to second-guess or worry if he was going to work or not. He also excelled in big arenas and harder type ground, which made him awesome at the rodeos.
 
   There were horses of his era that were great horses—like Marlene McRae’s Dutch Watch and Deb Mohon’s Brown. And sometimes Scamper kicked off a little slow at the NFR, and those great horses put pressure on us, but Scamper always came through in the end. He was so consistent run after run after run. I remember in about 1989, right before the NFR, Scamper had gotten a cut on his coronet band, and it was pretty bad, so he hadn’t been on his normal conditioning program, and it took him a few go rounds to start firing. Bob Tallman came up to me and said, “Well darlin’, we all knew this day would come,” meaning an end to our streak of world titles. I thought to myself, “No, it hasn’t ended yet.” Everyone had written us off that year, but we went out and did our best and kept trying our hardest and came away with the championship.


By the Numbers

 
   At the 2007 Wrangler National Finals Rodeo, the total payout was $211,529. In 2007, Lindsay Sears earned $119,255 in NFR money while Brittany Pozzi-Pharr left Las Vegas $95,192 richer for a grand total of $259,712 in season earnings and her first World Championship. While it’s impossible to say how Scamper would have run in comparison to Sears’ Sugar Moon Express or Pozzi-Pharr’s Sixth Vision, he earned a career high of $151,969 in 1986 before equal money at the NFR. The total payout at the Finals that year was $52,800—four times less than what the NFR pays nowadays.

   Many of the regular season rodeos of two decades ago have also upped their payouts considerably in the days since Scamper’s prime. For instance, when Charmayne won San Antonio’s rodeo in 1984, she earned $3,127 by placing fifth in the first round, winning the second and securing the average title. The payouts have improved significantly since the ‘80s.  

   Scamper and Charmayne earned NFR average titles in 1984, 1986, 1987, 1989, 1990 and 1993. They posted fast times at the Finals in 1984 and 1987. In 1987, Charmayne recalled having won $82,000 in regular season earnings in 1987 before the NFR. She wore the prestigious Back No. 1 into the ’87 NFR at a time before equal money payouts for the barrel racers. Her top five regular season rodeos that year were Houston ($12,000), Denver ($6,084), San Antonio ($4,567), San Francisco ($2,034) and Albuquerque ($2,586).
 
   For a look at how NFR payouts have increased astronomically in the years since Scamper’s reign, compare the figures below. Imagine how Scamper’s stats would stack up if he have run at the same money professional barrel racers are running for today. Not only that, but Scamper ran before the advent of high dollar Divisional barrel races.

1984 National Finals Rodeo Payout:
Go Rounds: 1st - $2,240, 2nd - $1,680, 3rd – $1,120, 4th - $760
Average: 1st - $4,872, 2nd - $4,032, 3rd - $3,192, 4th - $2,352, 5th - $1,512, 6th - $840
In 1984, Charmayne and Scamper tied for third and fourth in a go round, won two fourths, two firsts, a second, a third and placed first in the average. 

1986 National Finals Rodeo Payout:
Go Rounds: 1st - $5,280, 2nd - $3,960, 3rd – $2,640, 4th - $1,320
Average: 1st - $11,484, 2nd - $9,504, 3rd - $7,524, 4th - $5,544, 5th – $3,564, 6th – $1,980
In 1986, Charmayne and Scamper placed in all 10 rounds and won the average.

1990 National Finals Rodeo Payout:
Go Rounds: 1st - $6,390, 2nd - $4,792, 3rd - $3,195, 4th - $1,597
Average: 1st - $13,898, 2nd - $11,502, 3rd - $9,805, 4th - $6,709, 5th - $4,313, 6th - $2,396
In 1990, Charmayne and Scamper won two seconds, a fourth and three firsts in the go rounds and won first in the average.

2007 National Finals Rodeo Payout:
Go Rounds: 1st - $16,394, 2nd - $12,957, 3rd – 9,784, 4th – 6,875, 5th – 4,231, 6th – 2,644.
Average: 1st - $42,043, 2nd – 34,111, 3rd – 26,971, 4th – 19,832, 5th – 14,279, 6th – 10,313, 7th – 7,139, 8th – 3,966.


   There were years when Scamper struggled to keep his lead, and there were extenuating circumstances that people didn’t see or know about, but he always came through. A major factor to his success was keeping him conditioned and sound with a lot of physical therapy. I breezed him quite a bit, and at times, when he had respiratory issues from hauling, we used oxygen to overcome it. One myth about Scamper is that people assumed when I gave him oxygen treatments that he was being drugged instead. The ironic thing is that drug testing in rodeo was implemented when Scamper was running. He was just good.
 
   The day after I won Houston for about the seventh time, we made the decision to operate to repair the old slab fracture in his knee. It wasn’t just a chip. It was an actual slab that had to be removed. The thing that made that decision so tough was that he was running fine and winning, but if that slab were to have moved, it would have irritated the joint, and if it would have broken off, it would have finished his career. The chances for him to come back from that surgery were very low, but I did a lot of physical therapy following the surgery. During his recovery, I flexed his knee each day and sweated it a lot. He was off for three months, but in 1991, he came back very strong.

   Going into the 1993 NFR with a 10th world title on the line made that the most nerve wracking Finals because I wanted to make sure I did everything right, so Scamper could retire at the top of his game, unbeaten. I felt a lot of relief at the end of the NFR because Scamper was probably one of the greatest athletes ever, and there were a lot of people watching him to see if he could do it. The last thing I wanted for Scamper—and for the people that loved him who had followed his career—was for him to get beat. People really grew to love Scamper and root for him over the years, so I faced a lot of pressure not to let him get beat that year. With extra pressure, sometimes things don’t go as smoothly. That was the toughest Finals for me, but I was happy to retire him. He didn’t owe me anything from the time when I first got started.

   Scamper is now 31 and lives happily on our ranch in Boerne, Texas. He and Clayton will be making an appearance at Oklahoma City during the BFA World Championships, and he will probably like loading up and going.


Scamper and Charmayne’s Achievements
1984 - $53,499
Rodeo Houston champion
WPRA Rookie of the Year
Wrangler Series champion
Dodge Series champion
NFR champion
WPRA World Champion

1985 - $93,847
Rodeo Houston champion
Coors Chute Out champion
Winston Pro Tour champion
Wrangler Series champion
Dodge Series champion
WPRA World Champion

1986 - $151,969
Rodeo Houston champion
Turquoise Circuit champion
Leading Money Earner in Professional Rodeo
Coors Chute Out champion
Winston Series champion
Winston Pro Tour champion
Wrangler Series champion
Dodge Series champion
NFR champion
WPRA World Champion

1987 - $120,002
Rodeo Houston champion
James became the first woman to wear back No. 1 into the NFR (without equal money)
Coors Barrel Racing champion
Coors Chute Out champion
Wrangler Series champion
NFR champion
WPRA World Champion

1988 - $130,540
Rodeo Houston champion
1988 Calgary Olympics, Gold Medal Team
Coors Chute Out champion
Dodge Series champion
WPRA World Champion

1989 - $96,651
Rodeo Houston champion
Coors Chute Out champion
Dodge Series champion
AQHA Horse of the Year
Sierra Circuit champion
NFR champion
WPRA World Champion

1990 - $130,328
Charmayne crosses the million-dollar milestone
Coors Chute Out champion
Dodge Series champion
AQHA Horse of the Year
Wrangler Series champion
Copenhagen/Skoal Series champion
NFR champion
WPRA World Champion

1991 - $92,403
Rodeo Houston champion
Coors Chute Out champion
Dodge Series champion
Crown Royal season winner
Wrangler World of Rodeo champion
Sierra Circuit champion
AQHA Horse of the Year
WPRA World Champion

1992 - $110,867
Rodeo Houston champion
Charmayne inducted to National Cowgirl Hall of Fame
Calgary Stampede champion
Crown Royal season winner
WPRA World Champion

1993 - $103,609
Rodeo Houston champion
Crown Royal season winner
Dodge Series champion
NFR champion
WPRA World Champion

Image
CREDIT KENNETH SPRINGER
Scamper and Charmayne at Cheyenne Frontier Days in 1992.


For more information on Charmayne James, and her books, videos and clinics, visit charmaynejames.com.