Growing up, many little kids dream of becoming a real-life cowboy. For Stephen Graefen and Rudy Troyer, that dream became a reality. Riding bulls all through high school, the two switched to bucking horses about three years ago. 

On Thursday, the two put their riding to the test on one of the biggest stages—the Indiana State Fair Championship Rodeo—in order to try and get some more runs in before future competitions. 

“I went in with a hell of a horse. She didn’t have the best trip,” said Rudy. “I just need to make a better trip, but we are all safe, so [it was a good ride].

Good ride or not, each time brings a sense of pride and accomplishment to these two young men. The sport is as much mental as it is physical. The rules require one hand to remain off the saddle, and the rider’s feet must be above the horse’s shoulders on the first buck out of the gate.

“It is actually pretty calm when I get down in the shoots,” said Stephen. “I just try to focus and take my time. I duck my head, and we go to work.”

—Maggie McGuire

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