The name Church is closely associated with the New Zealand rodeo scene. Now there's another Church champion in the making, eight-year-old Holly Church who has been riding since she was 10 months old. The youngster is currently on the summer rodeo circuit turning heads with her natural flair.
Diana Church Holly’s mum says, “She's a machine, she puts some of us to shame sometimes. We have to step up and catch up to Holly's times!"
Waikato Rodeo Association Mentor Kaylene Reweti says, “Very, very natural. She's been in a saddle ever since she was 6 months old, so you don't get a lot of kids that are natural that can ride a horse that is open, and for her to be on the same horse that I'm on. You don't get that!"
"She gets everyone cheering when she comes out, everyone goes silly and I think oh my god," says Diana.
At eight years of age, Holly has some big goals in the rodeo realm.
"A lot of young girls her age that are good at rodeo, I must admit she's natural,” says Kaylene.
It's a natural skill inherited through her whakapapa. The Churches are New Zealand's most famous rodeo whānau. Her dad, uncles and cousins have all experienced a rodeo title.
“She's got parents who have been doing the rodeo for 25 years, and she's got her mum to support her. It's been a great opportunity to share one horse with Holly," says Kaylene.
Holly embodies the humble traits of her parents Diana and Rex Church. Already she has plans on how to fast-track her career to the top.
"I'm sure she's going to go a long way in this sport, she's got a new horse at home, a new apollosa colt, I'm going to geld him and he's going to come along and she will barrel race him and she also want to go and do some jumping and cross country on him. But, she will always be barrel racing," says Diana.
A shy lass with big dreams, who would prefer to let her actions do all the talking. But there's one thing she doesn't mind talking about and that's the prize at the end.