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Meet the Member Kailee Parra
story by Lindsay King
Kailee Parra picked up rodeo when she was little, but she laid it back down for a couple of years before realizing it’s where she truly wanted to be. While playing volleyball and basketball as a freshman, it dawned on Kailee that she should give rodeo another shot. “When I would go to a rodeo, I realized I had a lot more fun there than I did in sports. I connect with more people in rodeo. It is surprising how much more competitive rodeo actually is than high school sports,” said the 17-year-old. This La Mesa, New Mexico, cowgirl is now a triple threat in the NMHSRA: barrels, goats and breakaway roping.
“Breakaway is probably my favorite, but that probably has something to do with my horse (Cheech). He knows exactly what he is doing so I know he is going to take care of me. I am more confident in the event because of him.” Just because Cheech is such a standout, doesn’t mean the rest of Kailee’s line up aren’t something to write home about. “Frenchie (barrel horse) gets really excited and can be high strung, so I have to really have to stay calm when I ride her or she will just feed off it.” Blue Duck, the goat horse, is more of the laid-back gelding who decides in the moment how he is going to act at the gate.
Once Kailee was back in rodeo, she was back for good and her dedication to the sport only increases with time. “My favorite part is going to new places but still knowing somebody and having that support system. The atmosphere is like nothing else I have ever experienced. I have gotten so close to people, even my own family, because of rodeo.” Even if Kailee is just exercising her string of horses, both of her parents (Anthony and Jennifer) are out there supporting her. “They are always holding goats or taking video so we can figure out what I am doing wrong. My sister (Emilee, 19) comes home and helps me figure out what else I can on with my horses and what I am doing well with them.” The Ledesma family has played a significant role in Kailee’s progress and success in recent years. “They are good family friends of ours that have helped me with my barrel horse. I am over there every week to rope and they coach me on just about everything.”
No matter the level of competitor, Kailee knows she can learn something from everyone in rodeo. “Everyone in rodeo is a role model to me. I look up to all of them and want to be competing at all of their levels someday.” One of those role models was in the arena every day when Kailee got home from practice. “When my sister and I were competing against each other in high school, I was still in sports. When I got home from practice she would still be riding. She got a lot better than me more quickly, that really pushed me to work harder to get better.” This ultimately clinched Kailee’s decision to focus entirely on rodeo.
The thrill of beating her own time and being better than she was yesterday also keeps Kailee working hard. The goal of receiving a rodeo scholarship to New Mexico State University is another driver. This Las Cruces High School junior enjoys the tough competition the NMHSRA brings to each rodeo. “It pushes me to work hard. My competitors push me but they also help me improve. I have met so many friends through rodeo who have helped me get better.”