es (ERA) League of Rodeo Champions, even winnin

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For almost as long as she can remember, Callie duPerier Apffel was bouncing from rodeo to rodeo across the U.S. and Canada, chasing a dream. DuPerier Apffel, 23, grew up on trail horses and began barrel racing when she was 13. For her, riding and racing fit like boots and jeans -- despite the fact shes allergic to both horses and hay and has to take medication because of it.I probably went to thousands of races as kid, she says. I cant even count how many times Ive gone to a barrel race or how many times Ive ridden around barrels.From the moment she was introduced, she was hooked. I love horses, so being able to do that on your horse, I thought it was really cool, she says. The adrenaline rush she felt was more intense than from any other sport.Racers go as fast as possible in a cloverleaf pattern through three barrels -- trying hard not to knock over a barrel (a five-second penalty). Races usually last between 13 and 20 seconds.DuPerier Apffel started a few years later than most girls but learned quickly. As a high school senior she won the Womens Professional Rodeo Association junior world title. After three years in college, she set her sights on one goal: to win the National Finals Rodeo world title.Trip duPerier has traveled the country with his daughter, helped her strategize before races and bought her the horses -- a wide variety -- that helped teach her to ride. He says Callie is humble and calm -- but shes also extremely competitive and athletic. She dont look it on the outside, but she and me both, we do not like to lose, he says, laughing.He recalls how she played volleyball, basketball, ran track and was a cheerleader at little Medina High School outside San Antonio. He says in one hurdles race, she fell down on the second-to-last hurdle, but got back up and won. At one point, when she injured her knee and couldnt run, she entered the shot put -- and made the state championship. She went out for basketball for the first time as a senior, scored a bunch of points and even pulled off a reverse layup without ever having practiced the shot.Everybody was saying, Where did she come up with that? Trip says.At the same time, she was competing in high school rodeo. With her dad in her corner, many weekends were a blur. There would be times when he would pick me up from school or pick me up from a volleyball tournament and Id sleep the whole way to the rodeo, and then hed wake me up and Id hop on and run.She was torn between playing college volleyball and going on the rodeo circuit after high school, but decided to play volleyball at Schreiner University in Kerrville, Texas. The 5-foot-10 outside hitter did well -- she ranks No. 3 on the schools list for most points in a season -- but suffered a shoulder injury that prompted her to leave college and pursue rodeo after three seasons.Her quest became to qualify for National Finals Rodeo and win the world title. To do that, shed have to crisscross the country, entering rodeos here, there and everywhere to earn enough money to be among the top 15 earners invited to the annual NFR event in Las Vegas.Its a tough and expensive task, but Callie and Trip were committed to it. It meant long drives and plane rides, sometimes trailering two horses at a time (they hired a driver) so theyd have horses at different venues at the same time, and the support of shoers, veterinarians, other riders and the whole duPerier family.dddddddddddd Callie might have to be in Oakdale, Utah, one night and St. Paul, Oregon, the next. A victory could be worth a few hundred dollars or several thousand. It was a marathon.Wed be like in Tupelo, Mississippi, and in 16 hours youve got to be at the southern tip of Florida, and youre driving 75, 80 the whole way and you step out of your trailer, you saddle your horse and theyre calling your name, Trip recalls.Her first full season of 2014 she competed in 85 events and finished 25th in earnings. But she was No. 3 among Womens Pro Rodeo Association rookies. In 2015, she entered 100 events and was No. 1 in money earned -- and qualified for Vegas.Going into the 10-round, three-day NFR competition, Callie and Trip had a plan: be consistent, dont hit barrels and keep advancing and winning money. She decided to focus on each race without thinking about cumulative times or earnings. I was like, Yeah, I can make 10 clean runs on [my horse] Dillon. And thank goodness it happened, she says.At the end of 10 runs, her aggregate time was 140.41 seconds, .34 less than the next rider. That gave her the average title for that competition and $67,269 in prize money, which vaulted her to the top of the season money list at $303,846. She had become world champion.I got to do a victory lap because I had won the average, but I had no idea that I had won the world, she says. So I did my victory lap and was waving and got off and they were talking to me and telling me congratulations, and I still thought Id just won the average. Then when I was about to do an interview, they said something about winning the world, and I was like, Wait, I won? ... I started crying and said, I have to tell my dad. Being a numbers guy, Trip already knew, even if she didnt. He also knew that the long run to a championship was both satisfying and expensive. I bet it cost us about 150 [thousand dollars] to make 300, he says.After winning that title last year, duPerier Apffel decided 2016 would be the perfect time to rein in the pro career. She had a wedding to plan in May and moved to Galveston, Texas, where her husband, Kaleb, operates a lumber yard. Instead of spending months on the road and galloping around barrels, shes organizing and decorating their home and hunting and fishing with Kaleb. For once, she has free time.She has competed in several events of the new Elite Rodeo Athletes (ERA) League of Rodeo Champions, even winning the first one in Oregon in April and taking second at the next stop in Idaho. Yet she admits shes not all-in the way she has been in the past. She has other priorities, like staying close to home and maybe starting a family. She has no desire to live out of a suitcase anymore. But its hard to keep a world champion barrel racer out of the saddle.When shes asked if rodeo -- perhaps on a smaller scale -- might always be a part of her life, she says yes. I dont plan on fully quitting, because its fun, she says. I love it. I like the rush of riding. 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