Barrel Racing

Everything I Could Ever Tell You About …

NAME: Martha Josey | AGE: “I’d tell you, but I don’t believe it myself.” | HOMETOWN: Marshall | QUALIFICATIONS: World champion barrel racer with the Women’s Professional Rodeo Association, American Quarter Horse Association, and National Barrel Horse Association / Member of the National Cowgirl Museum and Hall of Fame / Will be inducted into the Texas Rodeo Cowboy Hall of Fame together with her husband, calf-roping champion R. E. Josey, in April

• My dad was one of the first directors of the National Quarter Horse Association. I had a pony to start with. My daddy passed away when I was only ten, but my mother kept a horse for me.

• I was fortunate in the early sixties to get a great horse named Cebe Reed. He was like Patsy Cline: He had a great style. And he liked to win as much as I did. In 1967 he changed my life. That year I won three horse trailers and $12,000. I could afford my first car and my first saddle. We won 52 barrel races in a row. Because of him, I was able to quit a good job and rodeo for a living. When he retired at the ranch, he’d walk around the yard and come up on the porch. He was like a person.

• When I first started, there were hardly any barrel racing schools. My husband and I set up the first one, in the sixties. We charged 33 students $100 each, and we thought we were rich! We’re still running clinics. Over the years, we’ve had more than 80,000 people and their horses attend. Some of our students are now instructors.

• You have to give your horse half the credit for a performance.

• Everybody loves to run fast, but sometimes you’ve got to go back to the basics: Run, trot, lope, then go fast. Even on my level, I practice basics.

• Horses learn from repetition, but don’t make practice dull. One day I might work on the barrels slow, and the next I might do a trail ride, and the next I might change the pattern up. Keep the horse happy and confident.

• The equine business is doing wonderfully right now. We’re seeing little kids, many of them under ten, who are very dedicated. They’re hungry! We’re also getting a lot of older students who are just now starting— grandparents who always wanted to ride, that type of thing.

• Back when I started barrel racing, twenty people would show up to compete; now you have two hundred.

• I was in two major accidents on my horses, but instead of thinking, “This is the end of the world,” I thought, “I’m going to get up.” After my first accident, in 1982, the doctors said I’d never walk again. But with the good Lord on my side, I was cured and won more after the accident than I did before it.

• I’m competitive with everything I do, and when I lose, I go home and fix the problem. I sit up at night and think about how to win. Not just big things but little things too, like how to have the nicest-looking Western house or how to have an arena with good dirt. You can’t be a winner in barrel racing if you don’t want to win at everything you do.

• I have no idea how I would have gone without a horse and a dog.

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