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Arlee eighth grader makes history, wins double championship rodeo titles

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ARLEE — Graysen O’Conner, an eighth-grader from Arlee, won two Indian National Finals Rodeo titles and returned home on Oct. 30 to a parade and plenty of cheers.

O’Conner came home after making history by winning both the juniors and ladies barrel racing championships. She rode into the championships on her two horses Fancy and AI, but the ride to victory wasn’t easy.

During the second round, her horse AI was hurt so Graysen went into the finals with Fancy. “I went in with hope and trust that Fancy could take me all the way,” she said.

Having loved horses for as long as she can remember, Graysen’s bond with her horses is great.

Graysen’s mother, Ruby, said Graysen learned a lot from another NFR qualified horse named Scott that she also trained with when she was younger. 

When your horse is your teammate, Graysen said, taking great care of them is very important.

Her biggest challenge at the Indian National Finals Rodeo came when AI got hurt. “I worried about AI,” she said. “I love my horses.” 

She said she learned a lot before and during the event. “It took a lot of time and effort to get there, but this is what I love, and I wouldn’t trade it for anything.”

Graysen continued to say, “For anyone who wants to get to this point, the time training yourself and your animal will be the hardest part.”

“I’m excited and grateful I won,” she added.

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