Inspiring and equipping young women
Martha Josey, champion barrel racer, has inspired and equipped young women in the art of barrel racing for generations. She also informed and equipped me to write about barrel racing in A Thing of Beauty.
Martha Josey was not my first contact with barrel racing. My step mother’s granddaughter enthusiastically participated in this sport. As I conceived my novel, I knew my first-person narrator would be a barrel racer. However nothing but an authentic level of detail would do here. Nothing would shame me more than to make some technical gaff. Writers should write what they know, but they should also know when to research and when to find true authorities on any given subject. I could not have found a greater authority than this champion barrel racer.
A winning barrel racer and instructor
Her personal life alone is inspirational, as you can find here on my website, but she accomplished so much more in her career. Competing actively since 1964, Martha Josey won the professional World Barrel Racing Champion for 1980. She achieved titles at the National Finals Rodeo and events sanctioned by the National Barrel Horse Association, and Women’s Professional Rodeo Association. During the 1988 Calgary Olympics, she also competed in barrel racing as an exhibition event.
The Josey Ranch
In the midst of a winning racing career, she and her husband R.E. Josey became founders of the Josey Ranch Barrel Racing Clinic. There they have taught and mentored generations of young barrel racers and calf ropers. They have also imparted the wisdom of discipline, perseverance, and a sound work ethic to their young students.
Barrel racing research
In the summer of 2006, I traveled to East Texas to research barrel racing and arranged to meet Mrs. Josey at her ranch. A busy staff member took down my information. Unfortunately, Martha Josey did not receive this information. Nevertheless, she graciously welcomed me at her ranch in the East Texas piney woods. It was a fun coincidence to find that she shared the dark hair and green eyes of my barrel-racing heroine, Becky Ramey. A staff member took us on a tour of the grounds and her museum where we viewed the memorabilia of her remarkable career.
A treasure trove of information
Martha also presented me with her book Running to Win at Barrel Racing. I not only religiously combed her book. I watched hours of instructional videos on her website. If there is any authenticity at all, it is greatly due to her. Over and over, I have consulted barrel racers and other horsewomen and have found her advice spot on. Most of all, I like to think my character, Rebecca Ramey also shares her cowgirl spunk and spirit of endurance.