Marana woman continues family rodeo tradition

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TUCSON, Ariz. -- Erin Parsons was at the Tucson Rodeo Sunday to show even girls have game.

"I've been running barrels since I was a little girl, probably 4-years-old," said Parsons.

It's a sport that comes naturally for Erin.  The 24-year-old rider from Marana was raised in a ranching family.

"My dad and my brother and my uncle they all rope cows and team rope, my mom ran barrels," said Parsons.

This year's rodeo includes more than 600 participants.  Only about 40 are locals, and even fewer are female.  This is Erin's fourth year competing in women's barrel racing.

"You are always riding your horses.  You have such a strong connection with your horses they become your best friend," said Parsons.

Sunday, Erin rode her sister's horse, Rizzo.

"She's an 8-year-old mare that we raised.  A lot of people buy horses that are trained so we've had her ever since she was a baby and taught her everything she knows.

The goal is to clear each of the three barrels, in a matter of seconds. To do this, Erin says you have to be in tune with your four legged partner.

"Every day practicing riding your horse, keeping him in shape, because a lot of barrel racing has to do with your horse and their speed,"

Erin finished with a time of 18 point four seconds. Too much time to place, but Erin says rodeo is about more than winning a ribbon.

It's something my family does every day together and it makes it very special.

The winner of the women's barrel race was Nellie Williams of Cottonwood with a time of 17.6 seconds.