Barrel-Racing Champion – Martha Josey Essay

Barrel-Racing Champion – Martha Josey Essay

The champion in Martha Josey of Karnack, Texas is evident in her skills and in her spirit. Her career in b spans four decades of wins after wins.

The record. Her “rode” to success has an impressive list of honors and distinctions which began in 1964 when she passed the qualifiers for the Super Bowl rodeo riders and barrel races making her the only cowgirl on record who qualified for five consecutive decades. She made it to the National Finals Rodeo qualifiers in 1968 and 1969 on Cebe Reed. For four consecutive years in 1978 up to 1981, she again qualified for the NFR riding Sonny Bit O’Both. She clinched the AHQA and the WPA World Championships riding Sonny Bit O’Both in 1980. She qualified for NFR in 1985 on Jetonfer Pay and in 1987 on Swen Sir Bug. In 1988, Martha went on to win the gold in the Barrel-Racing special and non-competition event in the Calgary Olympics in Alberta, Canada when she was a member of the US Olympic Team. She rode Swen Sir Bug. On the same year she was inducted into the Cowgirl Hall of Fame. Her great record and successful career is featured in the Cowgirl Hall of Fame Museum in Fort Worth, Texas. The period from 1989 to 1990 celebrated the champion rider and her horse. Martha earned the distinction of being the first and only cowgirl to enter the NFR qualifiers in four consecutive decades and her horse, Mr. Revolution Bars, was voted Wrangler Showdown Champion and won in the All American Quarter Horse Congress. Martha had back-to-back victories in the NBHA Senior World Championship and the Reserve Open 1-D Championship, both on Orange Smash in 1997. On the following year, Martha on Orange Smash was again qualified by the NFR and was awarded the Gold Go-Round Winner Buckle. 1999 was a double victory year for both horse and rider when Martha was honored with the Dennis D. High Lifestyle Achievement Award and picked as the Women’s Sports Foundation Female Equestrian of the Year. Her horse, Orange Smash was given the 1999 AQHA “Best of America’s Horse Award” and was immortalized in a statue made by Peter Stone. Martha on Joe B Jammin recorded the fastest time in the 2000 Lone Star Finals. At the 2001 Copenhagen Cup Finals, Martha on Joe B Jammin was declared the Go-Round Winner. She won the Senior Reserve 1-D Championship on Sweet Saillin’ Six at the NBHA Holiday Classic. Both events were in 2002. The 2003 Equus America, Equus Extreme Champions and the AQHA Reserve World Champions on Joe B Jammin were a triple victory for Martha.

The Drive. Martha’s star continues to shine not only because of her exceptional horsemanship skills, but also because of the drive and attitude that she matches them with. Broken bones from a bad fall in 1982 did not restrain her from her passion for riding. Despite that fall and stern warning from her doctors on the risks of riding again, she braved the odds and went on making riding records instead, in the trials, qualifiers and trainings all the way to the Olympic gold. With the tremendous efforts she puts into every competition, she makes sure the element of fun remains. “I love the competition. I think it will be fun,” she would always say. The four decades has not worn her physically and psychologically. She is still up to the competition even against much younger riders. Martha says with pride “You are as young as you feel. Competing keeps me young.”

Giving Back. Martha and her husband R.E., a 3-time champion World Calf-Roper of the AQHA, own the Josey Ranch in east Texas. They conduct trainings and clinics in barrel-racing and calf-roping in their ranch. The Josey World Champion Junior Barrel Race is held annually in May at their ranch. It is the biggest event in Barrel-Racing for the youth in the world and has given out $100,000 college scholarships and $1 million more in cash and prizes. In teaching the skills in competition, Martha gives equal focus on the winning attitude in sports as well as in life. She is proud in having trained 50,000 students who all had gone to become champions themselves, and equally so with the rest who had chosen to excel in other fields like the doctors, lawyers, teachers and business men and women. Martha Josey believes that “Success in the rodeo and barrel-racing arena translates into success in life.” Martha dreamt to be “the best barrel-racer ever, and she has far surpassed that” says Marsha Stilley, “a student, competitor and a fellow trainer” of Martha.


Mullins, M. (2001, June 3). Cowgirl on a Fast Horse. American Profile. Retrieved

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Purina Mills. (2009). Star Performers. Martha Josey – Barrel Racer. Retrieved

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