Martha Josey (born Martha Lavaughn Arthur in Gregg County, Texas on March 11, 1938, daughter of Robert Jonas Arthur, Sr. and the former Martha James) is a professional barrel racer who has been in active rodeo competition since 1964. She has earned numerous titles at competitions such as the National Finals Rodeo (NFR) and events sanctioned by the National Barrel Horse Association (NBHA), and Women's Professional Rodeo Association (WPRA). She also competed in barrel racing as an exhibition event during the 1988 Calgary Olympics, and is the founder and co-owner of the Josey Ranch Barrel Racing Clinic. She was inducted into the Cowgirl Hall of Fame in 1985. She and her husband, R.E. Josey, were jointly inducted into the Texas Cowboy Hall of Fame in 2002, and the Texas Rodeo Cowboy Hall of Fame in 2007. She was inducted into the Rodeo Hall of Fame of the National Cowboy and Western Heritage Museum in 2011.
Josey is originally from the Kilgore/Marshall, Texas area. Her love for horses was instilled by her father, who was one of the first directors for the American Quarter Horse Association (AQHA), and she began riding on a pony at a very early age. At age 10, Josey experienced the loss of a parent when her father died due to a heart attack. Josey's mother kept one of the family's horses, a gelding named CeBe Reed. After attending a rodeo in her teens, Josey became inspired to compete in the sport and began to work with CeBe Reed as a barrel racing horse.
Her first barrel horse, CeBe Reed, took her to 52 consecutive wins, and the awards she was given included seven horse trailers. Josey and CeBe competed in the National Finals Rodeo (NFR) in 1968 and 1969, winning $3,421 in prize money in 1969. Josey claims this horse is the reason she was able to quit her job and go pro.
Josey and Swen Sir Bug, aka "J.C.", competed in the 1987 NFR. At the 1988 Winter Olympics held in Calgary, Alberta, she participated in a barrel racing exhibition as an Olympic special event where she and J.C. earned a gold medal.
In June 1988, Josey suffered a serious accident at a rodeo in Austin, Texas. Doctors discovered two skull fractures, a broken pelvis, six broken ribs, and a punctured lung. Though told she might not walk again and certainly never ride, she proved her doctors wrong. She worked out daily in the swimming pool with the help of her husband, and regained enough strength to not only ride again, but also to compete professionally. After her accident, however, Josey became a strong advocate of equestrian helmet use and endorses Troxel riding helmets and safety gear.
After her successful recovery, her next horse, Mr. Revolution Bars, accompanied her to the 1989 and 1990 NFR, making her one of only two barrel racers to ever compete in the NFR in four consecutive decades. After that, Orange Smash carried her to a championship in the NBHA Senior World Championship 1997 and to the NFR in 1998.
In 1999, she was received the Dennis D. High Lifestyle Achievements Award and was chosen as the Women's Sports Foundation AQHA Female Equestrian of the Year. In addition, Orange Smash received 1999 AQHA “Best of America’s Horse Award” and was created as a model horse by Peter Stone.
In 2000, she entered her fifth decade of competition with the horse, Joe B Jammin, and in that year ran the fastest time at the Lone Star Finals. They went on to be the Go Round Winner at the 2001 Copenhagen Cup Finale in Dallas, Texas. In 2002, she placed first and second in the NBHA Holiday Classic in Jackson, Mississippi, riding Joe B. Jammin and Sweet Sailin' Six, and 2003 ended with a championship in the Equus America competition in Houston, Texas, as well as a reserve championship in the AQHA World rodeo event in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma. In 2004, she obtained Red Man Bay, and the pair won the 2004 NBHA Holiday Classic Sr. 1 D Championship in Jackson, Mississippi, and went on to win the 2004 and 2005 NBHA Sr. Division Reserve World Championships. As of 2009, Josey was still competing in barrel racing.
Presently, Martha and R.E. Josey reside in Karnack, Texas, where they own the Josey Ranch. They train and market barrel-racing and roping horses. At the ranch, and at various other places around the United States, the Joseys, along with "The Josey Team" of previous students, hold clinics for aspiring barrel racers and calf ropers to improve their skills and learn more about these events. The Josey Clinic was the first barrel-racing clinic in the sport, and has assisted thousands of riders over a 40-year period. As of 2010, the Joseys claim a total of 80,000 student have passed through their clinics and ranch competitions. However, it is unclear how this figure was calculated. The Josey Ranch sponsors several competitions, including the Josey Jr. World Championship Barrel Race for youth age 20 and under and the Josey Reunion Round-Up.
Martha Josey has also recorded several videos, written books, and has appeared in magazines such as Western Horseman. Both R.E. and Martha have also had television appearances on ESPN, RFD-TV, and other networks. In addition, the Joseys have a substantial number of product endorsements, many of which they sell at their Josey Western Store and online mail-order shop, headquartered from their ranch.
- World Champion Martha Josey's Running to Win: How to Win at Barrel Racing Both Inside and Out (Paperback - Jul 1985)
- Fundamentals of Barrel Racing (Paperback - Jan 1, 1977)
- Riding the Gymkhana Winner (Farmam Horse Library Series) (Paperback - Nov 1972)
- Josey Ranch Website
- National Cowgirl Museum and Hall of Fame - Martha Josey
- "Previous Inductees" Texas Cowboy Hall of Fame
- Texas Rodeo Cowboy Hall of Fame Inductees
- "Rodeo Hall of Fame Inductees". National Cowboy & Western Heritage Museum. Retrieved 18 May 2017.
- Vine, Katy. "Barrel Racing" Texas Monthly, March 3, 2007 (subscription required)
- on YouTube
- "Smash Success" Connie Hubbard. American Cowboy Sep-Oct 1999, pp 18, 26
- Josey Accident
- Troxel Helmet news
- Barrel Horse World
- Purina Horse Feeds National Ambassadors: Martha Josey, Barrel Racer
- "Circle Y Welcomes Martha Josey to their Team of Champions"
- Past News and Events
- Martha Josey Barrel Racing and Horsemanship Clinics
- Biography of R.E. and Martha Josey