Famed barrel racing horse Scamper dies at 35

Charmayne James and Scamper
Charmayne James and Scamper

Legendary barrel racing horse Scamper, who was ridden to dozens of championships by Charmayne James, has died at the age of 35.

Scamper – real name Gills Bay Boy – died peacefully on the morning of July 4, 2012, at James’s ranch in Boerne, Texas.

Foaled in 1977, Scamper was one of the most iconic figures in the equine industry, dominating the barrel racing ranks from the early 1980s until his retirement in 1993. The gelding son of Gills Sonny Boy from the Headed West mare Drapers Jay was in good health to the end,  cared for by his constant companion Charmayne James.

“What a gift he was,” says James. “It’s sad that he is gone but what life he had. It’s something to be celebrated.”

Scamper won 10 world championships in the Women’s Professional Rodeo Association, and teamed with James to earn National Finals Rodeo average titles in 1984, 1986, 1987, 1989, 1990 and 1993.

Charmayne and Scamper
Charmayne and Scamper

The duo won an incredible 10 Rodeo Houston titles and countless circuit and major rodeo championships on their way to earnings of well over $1 million.

Together Scamper and Charmayne defined an era in rodeo and their famous round-winning bridleless ride perhaps best epitomizes the relationship between horse and rider; a one-in-a-million partnership that was loyal and true to the end.

Defying all odds, the unassuming bay raced his way into the hearts of millions, taking a ranch girl from Clayton, New Mexico with him.

Scamper’s clone, named “Clayton” is standing at stud. His progeny will not be eligible for quarter horse registration, but they will be able to barrel race on the open circuit. Clayton first stood at stud in 2008.

Scamper is also immortalized in a bronze sculpture commissioned in 2000 by the Pro Rodeo Hall of Fame.


The bronze sculpture of Scamper at the Pro Rodeo Hall of Fame.
The bronze sculpture of Scamper at the Pro Rodeo Hall of Fame.


Scamper's clone Clayton.
Scamper’s clone Clayton.


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