Meet the Member April Phillips

by Rodeo News

story by Lily Weinacht

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April Phillips, Washington, PA – Riggin’ Bag Photos

“The place I am most comfortable is on a horse’s back,” says APRA breakaway roper and barrel racer April Phillips. “I love training them and seeing them progress, and the feeling of hard work actually going somewhere. It’s like an escape from the world. I feel complete!” These feelings alone would keep 26-year-old April from Beech Creek, Penn., coming back to rodeo, but her competitiveness is a further motivator.
Coming from a non-rodeo family, April grew up riding horses at her grandparents, but the rodeo seed was planted by Steve and Karon Hower, the Phillips’ farrier and his wife. “Our horseshoer got me started in barrel racing  – then I did 4-H, junior high, and high school rodeo,” says April. After high school, she attended Missouri Valley College in Marshall, Mo., for a year before moving to Stephenville, Texas, to ride cutting horses and start colts. There, she met Steve and Kathy Thornton, who passed along their breakaway roping and barrel racing knowledge to April. Not long after that, April moved home to Pennsylvania and joined the APRA in 2011.
Of her two events with the APRA, April loves them both in her enthusiastic way. She is especially excited to have a solid barrel horse to run on this summer. The gelding, a reject cutting horse whom April affectionately calls Frank the Tank, came from one of April’s friends. “I felt like he wanted to run barrels,” says April. “Frank had a real bad accident after I started seasoning him, and I didn’t think he’d ever run again, but he came back this past summer and he won four out of the five Malibu rodeos I took him to. We won the barrels at the Malibu finals!” April and Frank also won the 2014 Iron Cowgirl Challenge in Monongahela, Penn. Often breakaway roping on her brother’s tie-down roping horse, April also has a roping horse of her own, Snowy River. Formerly one of the Thornton’s horses, Steve and Kathy asked April to ride Snowy River and get him ready to sell, but April ended up bringing the gelding home with her to Pennsylvania.
April and her younger brother, Brent, often compete in many of the same APRA rodeos. After April started rodeoing, Brent decided to start competing as well, and to dissuade him from becoming a bull rider, April says, “I told him he could never rope as good as me!” Of a very competitive nature, Brent set out to prove April wrong. “He can out rope me any day,” she readily admits, and adds, “We are very lucky to have parents who put up with our crazy passion for rodeo! They didn’t have any experience with horses, but they never missed a rodeo and were always in the practice pen with me or turning calves out. I just can’t thank them enough!” April and her family are also fond of hunting and fishing, even going to Canada to hunt their game. April spends the remainder of her time working two jobs – one as chiropractor’s assistant  and the other as a cosmetic saleswoman at Macys. “It’s a big plus to have two jobs where they work with me and I can continue to rodeo,” says April, who is also planning to also give roping and barrel racing lessons this fall.
Having qualified for the AFR 37 in breakaway roping, April’s latest goal is to qualify for the AFR 38 in both her events, along with her brother qualifying in the tie-down roping. She finishes, “I want to thank the Lord for everything that I’ve been blessed with. Without Him this would not be possible, and I am very thankful every day!”

                © Rodeo Life Media Corporation | All Rights Reserved • Laramie, Wyoming • 307.761.9053

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