Fort Valley woman to compete in Georgia National Rodeo

awoolen@macon.comFebruary 21, 2013 

FORT VALLEY -- Austyn Brooke Holly doesn’t get nervous.

“Ever,” the 21-year-old said.

But faced with competing Friday at the Georgia National Rodeo in front of her family and friends, Holly admits to being a bit unnerved.

“Normally, no one knows who I am,” she said of her barrel racing competitions, which have taken her as far west as Fort Worth, Texas.

The 2010 Peach County High School graduate is no stranger to crowds or winning.

Her first rodeo was when she was 13 in Panama City Beach, Fla.

“She was next to last to go, and she wins the whole thing,” said her father, Jeff Holly.

The moment was surreal for the family, and her father said at the next event, everyone was talking about the 13-year-old who beat professional riders.

“It’s a memory I’ll never forget,” Jeff Holly said.

Austyn Holly started riding after her family moved to their 15-acre Fort Valley farm and a neighbor offered her lessons. She has been riding for about nine years and used to compete in high school rodeos.

“She loved it from the get-go,” her father said.

She won a saddle -- now the main one she rides in -- in the junior and open divisions in a 2007 National Barrel Racing Association competition.

As she rode her 6-year-old quarter horse mare named Caris out in the pasture Thursday, she explained her pattern on the barrels might look a little different from other riders.

“I’m a lefty, so I’ll probably go a different way than everyone else,” Holly said.

At the rodeo, she drew the second ride after the opening ceremonies, which start at 7:30 p.m. There are 70 riders scheduled to compete in the barrel racing event.

She has four horses, which she tries to ride every day between working at her father’s insurance company and caring for her animals.

As of Thursday morning, however, she wasn’t sure which horse she was going to bring to ride. Her plan was to watch the riders Thursday evening and make her decision based on that.

“You’ve gotta put good in to get good out,” she said.

To contact Angela Woolen, call 923-5620

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