The following is an exerpt from Sharon Camarillo’s biography on her website. She has graciously allowed Atwood Hat Co. the opportunity to post about her. We are so proud to have such a professional represent Atwood Hat Co.!
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.
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.
As a young educator, I remember reading a statistic that Martha and R.E. Josey had taught over 10,000 students in their career to date. WOW, how does anyone compete with that success? Tenacity is what it takes. Now, 25 years into my career, I can claim that I have proudly influenced well over that number. 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.
Today, the two horses involved in my program, Chile and Jewels, although competitive, are used to hone my riding and teaching skills along with testing new designs and products. It is always a luxury when I have the opportunity to take my own horses to horse fairs and clinics. These horses are also the equine stars of our book, The A.R.T. of Barrel Racing and our DVD instructional tapes.
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.
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?
Cheryl Price made the nomination. Letters from friends and acquaintances supported it. When I looked over Cheryl’s very well-prepared resume, I guess what I realized most was how long I have been a western lifestyle advocate. Before turning to education and design, I had been a practicing cowgirl, but now the opportunity to work with aspiring “horsemen” of all ages and abilities is where I get my thrill. To have the opportunity to have a relationship with horses, to design and promote quality equipment, to promote the western lifestyle throughout the world, and to make a living doing it, is reward enough. 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.
Today, instead of trying to win first place, I choose to share the platform. I choose to spend quality time with good friends and family, I choose to breathe in and absorb the luxury of limited down time, and I am teaching myself to recognize the difference. Today in my life, it is about enjoying the fact I have created a working environment in which official office attire is flannel pajamas and in public settings, my working clothes reflect on the western styling I have admired my entire life. Today, I choose to celebrate each day. I choose to acknowledge the special lives of the people around me. It’s about having the confidence to say it’s OK to be different, it’s OK to enjoy being alone, and it’s OK to select the friends you want to share your valuable time with. It’s even OK to say NO to people who take and don’t give in return, who drain you of energy, and who don’t like the same movies you do!
This website is dedicated to becoming the very best all of us can be. As “works in progress” at various stages in life, certain things take on different degrees of importance. Choosing friends and mentors who help you weed through the muck to find the importance of situations is key. Even if you are going through Hell, don’t stop. “Chin up, eyes forward,” or maybe we should remodel the phrase to “chin forward, eyes up.” Neither the bad times nor the best times last forever.
Through the community efforts of some very smart people, we will strive to offer inspiration to help you become the very best you can be from day to day, and living to change your world if you desire to do so.
The following are highlights of my Cowgirl Hall of Fame induction speech presented October 26, 2006. I hope it inspires you to dedicate your life to purpose, patience and passion.
Thank you to my friends,
This award is truly a milestone, a coming of age and a realization that what you wish for truly can come true.
As a cowgirl, I would be remiss not to take this opportunity to acknowledge the special horses that have come into my life. Each, in their own way has made me the better horsewomen I am today.
We are truly blessed to have the chance to thrive in a country that gives us the opportunity to pursue our dreams and goals.
As we walk life’s trails, we each have had the chance to experience our share of challenges and celebrations… Life is a learning opportunity and for us who choose to survive, it truly is a great life!
As we move toward the future, I continue to challenge myself and serve as a reminder to those of you who share a passion and purpose to stay strongly focused on your goals. We have allowed ourselves to be pushed to the front of the line and we are looked to as leaders for those who follow.
I invite anyone who has the patience to pursue excellence solely for the challenge, not the expectation of reward, to relish in the daily challenges that serve as a reminder that a well lived life is nothing more than a series of accomplished days.
With belief in our Heavenly Father, I continue to ask Him for wisdom, patience and purpose.
If I can help open doors to the possibilities of the friends, family and acquaintances that surround me, I will have accomplished my personal goals.
Thank you for sharing in this most humbling and most personal moments in time. Believe me when I say, wherever I travel, wherever my life’s path guides me, each of you and this moment will remain with me forever.