Wearing a black shirt with silver buttons and an off-white cowboy hat, Grace Hill takes off from the gate on her horse, Clementine.

The two whip around the three barrels, Grace’s boots bouncing off the side of Clementine.

"I love it," said Grace, who recently graduated from Colorado Springs School. "I grew up on a ranch, my parents put me on a horse when I was a little girl, and I never got off."

Grace, 18, is the youngest barrel racer in the Pikes Peak or Bust Rodeo this week at the Norris Penrose Event Center. Growing up on her family's ranch in Peyton, Grace has been on a horse since she was 4 years old. She's been competing in rodeos since she was 6.

Today, Grace is considered one of the best barrel racers for her age in Colorado.

Wednesday night, Kelly Yates, from Pueblo, had the fastest time at 17.551 seconds, but right behind her was Grace, finishing in fourth at 17.830. During the last year, Grace has taken home the Colorado Barrel Racing high school state championship and will compete at high school nationals next week. In August, she'll start her college career at Texas Tech, where she earned a scholarship to compete for the Red Raiders' rodeo team.

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Her rodeo career has been everything she and her family have dreamed of. And it’s just getting started.

"She's been amazing and has a lot of talent,” Grace’s dad, Justin, said. “We want her to get her education first. If she can rodeo and do well, that's just a blessing. I'd love to see her at the Wrangler National Finals some day."

Grace’s first rodeo was at Kit Carson in Falcon. Her mom, Leslie, says her daughter has participated in over 100 rodeos since. The Hill family travels across the country to compete in rodeos, most often in Texas, Oklahoma and, of course, their home state of Colorado.

The Pikes Peak or Bust Rodeo is Grace’s first professional rodeo, making it especially memorable as it’s just miles from their ranch.

“It’s huge for us,” said Leslie, who also helps work the rodeo. “All the people here are rooting for her. It’s just an honor to be here honestly. An honor and an achievement.”

Justin and Leslie are incredibly proud of their daughter. They admit seeing their only child leave for Texas Tech is not something they’re looking forward to.

But they also know she’s more than ready for the next chapter of her life thanks in large part to the rodeo.

“Her confidence, common sense and responsibility are what I’m most proud of. It’s different than probably some teenagers who don’t have an outside experience of having to take care of animal or something of that nature.

“She’s turned into a young, responsible adult because of this sport.”

Grace hopes to go to med school one day. She also hopes to continue her rodeo career as long as she can, knowing it won’t last forever.

While you can take the girl out of the rodeo, you can’t take the rodeo out of the girl.

"I know it's really hard to make a living off just rodeo," Grace said. "But I also know the rodeo will always be a part of my life."

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