Appels became a Phelpette, which is a member of the Phelps Photo team, at the 1998 North American Young Riders' Championships in Denver, Colorado. After getting acquainted with Mary Phelps through a website contest, Horsesdaily and Junior Riders signed an alliance that has only strengthened to date.
Astrid met Mary Phelps and her husband JJ Hathaway for the very first time in June 1998, where her parents were to check out these obscure "internet photographers" before they sent their 17-year old daughter away for a trip to Colorado. A meeting and photo session at the barn and a good talk over lunch was enough to discover the gentle nature of both Mary and JJ. The experience at the 1998 NAYRC became an unforgettable one, and many exceptional trips were to follow.
Astrid's life as a Phelpette has brought her to the most exclusive equestrian competitions in the world, making her travel the globe and making dreams come true. Competitions covered with Mary and JJ include:
1998 - 2000 North American Young Riders' Championships
1999 CDI-W / CSI-W Amsterdam
1999 - 2000 CDI Bad Honnef
2000 CDI-W Palm Beach Dressage Derby
1999 European Dressage Championships
2000 CDI / CSI / CAI Aachen
2000 CDI Dressage in the Rockies
2000 CDI-W / CSI-W Malines
2001 USDF Annual Dressage Convention
2001 - 2002 CDI Dressage at Devon
2002 World Equestrian Games
"Mary and JJ are such great wonderful people in my life. They have become my foster parents at far away places, loving me like a daughter. I owe them endless gratitude and love for all the wonderful, exceptional opportunities they have given me," Astrid said.