Cowgirl and floor general
Brian Smith, Sports Editor
A cut-out letter ‘D’ painted baby blue inscribed with ‘Dink’ in pink handwriting hangs on a wall inside the barn housing one of three Georgia Brumley horses. Rae has her own custom design as well.
This is where Georgia bears a wide grin and is at home.
Walking the halls of Lanesville Junior-Senior High School, the junior-to-be can point to a few new banners on the walls of the Eagles’ Nest. Last school year, she was part of the first girls’ basketball team to win not only the program’s first Southern Athletic Conference title, but also the hardware of a Class 1A Sectional.
By the time the regional was over, Georgia was back to riding her horses.
From her first pony, Samuel, at the age of 4, Georgia has been hooked on all things rodeo. She has been awarded buckles, saddles, breast-collars and nose-bands as evidence to successes on the rodeo circuit.
‘It’s a lifestyle,’ Brooklyn Brumley, Georgia’s mother, said. ‘It’s difficult for people who don’t live this life to understand, but it’s totally a lifestyle. You have a love for the animal, a love for the competition. It’s definitely a 365-days-a-year job. It really is something that has always brought my families together. It was a common bond. Even now that we have moved (to Palmyra), one of the cool things is being with my dad (Richard Farris) more, watching Georgia and my dad work together.’
Georgia glows when talking about rodeo in an office inside a large covered barn where she trains her fleet of horses to compete in the disciplines of barrel racing, breakaway roping, goat tying, pole bending and team roping.
‘It’s a lot of trust,’ Georgia said. ‘When you are on the back of a 1,500-pound animal, it’s crazy to a lot of people, but you have to have the full trust of the horse to do what you need in that moment.’
Now, it’s all or nothing when she brings one of her horses in for a run at a rodeo event.
‘Everybody is practicing and focused, so you have to leave it all out there,’ she said. ‘You have to give it everything you’ve got because you’ve worked hard during the week. Your horse is going to give you their all, so you have to do your part in the event.’
Extra love and pats after a workout are given to the neck and shoulder of Georgia’s pole-bending horse Dink after a training run Monday.
‘I can take credit for what I do, but I do so little compared to what my horses do,’ Georgia said. ‘They give me their all with every run no matter what … they give me their whole heart. My part, really, is so little.’
The Brumley family grew up around horses. Brooklyn’s family ” parents Richard and Rexann Farris ” were into horses. Extended family members are horse trainers. Georgia’s father, Kyle Brumley, used to break young horses.
‘We were always at my grandparents’, so I always wanted to be on a horse,’ Georgia said. ‘It was a ‘let’s see if she likes it’ deal and I fell in love with it.’
Soon, the family realized Georgia’s skill level was beyond the local 4-H circuit when she entered kindergarten. New to rodeo, they were pointed to the Southern Indiana Junior Rodeo Association, based in Salem.
‘It was the biggest blessing to us,’ Brooklyn said. ‘We went to that first rodeo and really had nothing, a pony and a saddle.’
Soon, she was convinced by Beverly Dietrich, who would become her regular rodeo coach, to flank and tie a goat.
‘(Dietrich) said she’d show her quickly how to flank it and from there, seeing all those kids ride, it was like the switch was turned on,’ Brooklyn recalled. ‘She went from being a little passive to ‘I want to take this over’.’
Having graduated from the junior rodeo circuit, Brumley competes spring, summer and fall. Her main focus is the Indiana High School Rodeo, which is part of the National High School Rodeo Association. She also competes at the International Finals Youth Rodeo along with events put on by the American Quarter Horse Association.
Through the years, Georgia has routinely climbed the ladder and battled for the All-Around Cowgirl titles at most rodeo stops. Each rodeo discipline requires different skills from not only the horse, but the rider. The more points you accumulate in each event, the better chance at all-around glory.
‘My favorite is goat tying,’ Georgia said. ‘It’s a 100-foot run down to the beginning of the tether, which the goat is connected to. The tether is 10 foot long, so it’s 110 foot if your goat stands back straight. You run down as fast as you can and step off your horse while it’s still moving. You will run to this goat, put your hands on it, flank it, gather three legs and tie it together. The fastest time wins.’
Her personal best time is 6.9 seconds. Typically, her times are in the low eights, but her goal the next few years is to consistently dip into the sevens.
The tenacity, strength, grit and focus translates come wintertime to the basketball court. When hoops roll around, the horses turn out for a break while Georgia works on directing the Lanesville squad as the team’s point guard.
‘In basketball, we have to be quick on our feet on defense and offense,’ Georgia said. ‘When I come and ride, I tie goats. I am running down full speed, step off an animal while they are moving and running to a goat that could go either way. I have to be ready to move either direction the goat runs so I get my hands on it. Basketball helps me in the rodeo ring.’
While weight lifting and conditioning usually take the traditional route of a fitness gym for high school athletes, riding a horse provides plenty of muscle building for Georgia.
‘To ride a horse, it takes a lot of strength, a lot of core strength to sit up on that horse,’ she said. ‘You have to use every muscle in your body on the back of the animal.’
When Angie Hinton took the Lanesville girls’ basketball job a little more than a year ago, she had a connection to the Brumley family. Hinton coached Georgia’s aunt, current Lanesville assistant coach Lacy Crosier, on New Albany’s 1999 state championship team while Brooklyn was a cheerleader. Larry Brumley, Georgia’s grandfather, was a member of Floyd Central’s 1971 Superhicks team coached by Angie’s husband and current Lanesville assistant, Joe Hinton.
‘There is a lot of competitive spirit in the family,’ Angie Hinton said. ‘That toughness and grit that she has to have in rodeo, it really comes across on the court. She can take a lot. She’s a tough kid. She’s been injured and works through it with toughness. Her ability to compete and mental toughness shows up on the basketball court.’
Last season, Georgia averaged 6.1 points, 3.4 assists and 2.2 steals per ballgame.
‘I noticed the energy she brings and the passion to the basketball court is the same she does with her horses,’ Hinton added. ‘I know when she comes back from rodeo events, her passion is still there for the basketball court. Her energy level picks up. She has a happiness and energy about her that is very positive. Her leadership on the court and with the girls is in direct correlation with how she does her rodeo.’
Georgia’s younger sister, Hylton Brumley, who will be in the seventh grade, is involved in basketball as well, along with rodeo.
‘Rodeo is (Georgia’s) No. 1 thing,’ Brooklyn said. ‘Now, our other daughter, she is going to choose ball over anything. They are opposite.’
Georgia puts a lot of time into rodeo prep. At 4 p.m. each day, she heads to the barns to put in up to four hours of work. She’ll ride each horse to keep them in shape along with roping dummies.
‘If it’s a rodeo weekend, I’ll take my pole mare and trot her through the pole pattern,’ she said. ‘My breakaway horse, we will rope six or seven calves with her. My goat horse, we will tie three times. We don’t like to do their events every day. We like to keep them in shape. They know their jobs. You don’t want to pound them into the ground. Then, they go to pasture at night.’
Georgia also is involved at school beyond basketball. She is vice president of the FFA chapter and is a member of Student Council.
‘I have a lot going on, but I like it,’ she said. ‘I like being involved.’
Long term, Georgia seeks to compete in rodeo at the collegiate level with schools west of the Mississippi River that offer the sport. Professional rodeo is harder for women than men. Professional events for women are limited to barrel racing and break-away roping.
The Indiana High School Rodeo Association competition kicks back up in August with the schedule slated to visit Lanesville on Sept. 28 and 29. The Brumley family typically loads equipment and necessities on Thursday night then rolls out on a Friday for two days of weekend competition.
Thus far, Georgia points to the 2014 AQHA World Show as her greatest rodeo accomplishment. As a fifth-grader competing in poles and barrels, she finished third in 18-and-under, first in intermediate and first in 13-and-under pole bending.
With a competitive spirit, she continues to want to reach the top.
‘I wasn’t as competitive at the beginning,’ she said. ‘I looked at others and watched how they rode. I saw how fast they could ride. I’d pay attention to the times. I wanted to be there but I had to work. Whenever they say, ‘And your first place is … ‘ I wanted to hear, ‘And your first place is Georgia Brumley.’ Nobody wants to be at the bottom. We are all pushing to be better than that next girl. You have to continue to have that drive.’
That drive pushes Georgia on the court and in the ring.