At five- and six-years-old, the Camarillo brothers, Leo and Jerold, were already on horseback out on a ranch helping their father, Ralph, with cattle.
“Most people say we were born on a horse,” said Jerold Camarillo, now 69. “We just learned as kids with him roping and branding cattle and breaking colts. Dad taught us the fundamentals of riding a horse.”
The upbringing also got them to follow their dad’s footsteps in the pro rodeo arena with both going on to win several championships.
This August, Jerold follows big brother Leo with his own induction into the Pro Rodeo Hall of Fame in Colorado.
“Jerold Camarillo is one of the all-time great team ropers,” said Pro Rodeo Hall of Fame Director Kent Sturman. “He comes from the first family of team roping as he learned from his father Ralph and today he and his brother Leo are sought after by aspiring young ropers for their expertise and knowledge. We are honored to induct such a talent in the sport of team roping.”
Camarillo competed in amateur rodeo in 1966 and joined the Professional Rodeo Cowboys Association circuit in 1968.
In his first year of the PRCA competitions, Camarillo, at age 22, was runner up for the World Championship. The following year, he won it all and was the World Champion Team Roper in 1969.
Camarillo continued to garner recognition with the National Finals “Average” winner in 1975 and a second PRCA roping world championship in 1977. In 1981 he again was the National Finals Average champ.
Camarillo said the key to his roping success was learning to rope cattle in high grass in the field when others had been trained in an arena.
“We didn’t know it at the time, but we developed things to another level,” Camarillo said.
He explained that other cowboys had been taught to lay their loops on the ground for cattle to step in and rope them at that point. With the Camarillo brothers, they learned to lasso the cattle’s feet as they were jumping off the ground.
“We would catch the feet right out of the air,” Camarillo said. “We started beating our competition because it was faster and less chance of a penalty catching only one hoof.”
Camarillo has made Oakdale his home since 1965 and was one of the founding board of directors for the Oakdale Cowboy Museum, serving from 1996-1998.
In 1971 he bought his current ranch from esteemed rodeo cowboy Harley May and started Camp Jerold Roping School at the facility after he retired from the pro rodeo circuit in 1986.
The school is responsible for the success of a great number of rodeo champions, most recently Colton Farquer, who this year won the California College State Finals in team roping.
In 2003, Camarillo was inducted into the National Cowboy Hall of Fame in Oklahoma City.
Camarillo said in May he received a call from the commissioner’s office of the PRCA and initially thought it may have had to do with a rodeo fine appeal he had filed on a student’s behalf.
When he was told he had been inducted into the Pro Rodeo Hall of Fame he was in disbelief, getting goose bumps, adding to the surreal feeling.
“If I didn’t know (Commissioner) Karl Stressman himself, I would have thought it was a joke,” Camarillo said.
He added that he felt the accomplishment was quite an honor.
“You work all your life to be the best at what you do and I get to be recognized for that accomplishment before I died,” Camarillo said.
Induction ceremonies are Aug. 6 in Colorado Springs where the Pro Rodeo Hall of Fame is located.