It has been written many times that I am an accomplished horsewoman. To that, I say that I have been blessed to have had the opportunity to study equestrian skills, establish relationships with industry professionals and have earned the respect of my friends and students that I have had the honor to mentor.
My career has encompassed many facets of the western and equestrian world. My signature collections of saddles and tack under the Sharon Camarillo Collection have earned respect in the retail market place. In recognition of my multi-faceted career, the Western and English Manufacturer’s Association presented me with their “Top Hand” award in 2005. The more opportunities I am exposed to, the more I understand our western industry and lifestyle, and the closer I can relate to those who are interested in following in my footsteps. One of the highlights of my career was being recognized by the National Cowboy Hall of fame as the recipient of the prestigious “Tad Lucas” award. Each time I have the opportunity to visit the beautiful facility in Oklahoma City, it’s still hard for me to believe I share the platform with the greatest names in cowboy lore and history.
I believe in goal setting as the primary resource to realistically organizing one’s life. As a Southern California raised, “Cowgirl at Heart,” I always dreamed of owning a ranch, including all the things I envisioned that ranch life encompassed: wide-open spaces, horses and cattle. What surrounded my young life were beaches and summer vacations around national parks with my parents. To their dismay, the pack stations and feedlots were the scenery that drew my attention and stirred my interests.
After gaining some livestock experience at the San Jacinto Livestock Commission Company, I was able to hone my riding skills. Riding, roping and goat tying college rodeo scholarships helped me graduate with a Bachelor’s Degree from California Polytechnic University in San Luis Obispo, a university famous for its rodeo team. My degree is in Agricultural Business and Economics. I believe in the power of education and am proud to commit myself to being a life-long learner.
A National Intercollegiate World Championship gave me the confidence and introduction to the world of professional rodeo. Realizing that if I chose to pursue a career as a rodeo competitor, the only event open for women at that time in the professional ranks was barrel racing. I also understood that to be competitive in the sport of professional barrel racing, it would take more skills and better horses than I had to date. So… my journey began.
Two of the highlights of my rodeo career were the opportunity to compete with other national finalists at a Command Rodeo Performance for President Reagan and be a guest at the White House, and the chance to travel with a group of top riders selected by Wrangler to compete in an international rodeo in Argentina. The friendships I made in the rodeo business will remain with me forever.
After qualifying for four National Finals Rodeos, the decision to retire from professional competition was not difficult for me. I was pregnant with my son, Wade, and I was anxious to follow the road that many athletes take into product design, influential endorsements and media. I was also interested to establish an educational program that could help riders get the most from their horses. I designed my Performance Horsemanship Program to encompass performance evaluation and the mental game of competition. A course outline was organized and along with supportive national sponsors, I was in the equine education business.
I have taken my program throughout the United States and five foreign countries. It is an honor and an opportunity that I do not take lightly as I encourage and remind students to enjoy the process of developing their equine partners to their personal level of success. Most importantly, I feel I am a better rider and horsewoman today than I was when I retired form competition.
The National Cowgirl Museum and Hall of Fame is located in Ft. Worth, Texas. Each October, the CHF hosts an induction ceremony to honor “Women Who Shaped the West and Changed the World.” Just imagine my surprise and emotion when I received the phone call June 21, 2006 from Patricia Riley, National Director of the CHF, to inform me that I had been selected as one of the five 2006 inductees! I was speechless, for one of the first times in my life. I had no words to express my gratitude. I felt such an overwhelming feeling of humility. Me, a city-raised self-made cowgirl from the beaches of Southern California inducted into the National Cowgirl Hall of Fame? I asked myself, “Why me?” There are working cowgirls out there that at any given time or task, would put me to shame. Why had I been the one selected to become Queen for a Day?
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.