Another local athlete is headed off to national competition in a couple of weeks. Annie Budiselich — known to most as Annie B — and her horse, Brushy, have qualified for the American Eventing Championships, which is the pinnacle of the sport for national level riders. Held in Kalispell Montana from Aug. 30-Sept. 4, the championship events include cross country, dressage and show jumping.
Annie grew up in New Hampshire riding horses. “Both of my parents came from horsey families,” she said. “My grandmother rode, and my dad grew up farming with horses. I loved to ride the minute I tried it. My cousins and I were wild riders, just learning how to stay on top facing the right direction.”
Her obsession was nurtured by her parents. “I feel lucky to have been born into this family that ‘got it,’” she said.
Annie’s father owned and operated the local hardware store and lumberyard and, in typical New England fashion, worked six days a week. But he took Sundays off and went on early morning rides with any of his eight children who wanted to go.
“I always had access to riding,” Annie said. “It’s part of why I think Methow Valley Riding Unlimited (MVRU) is so important here. It’s for kids like I was — horse crazy. It’s important to have places where kids can come get their horse and pony fix.”
Annie says she tried to give up horses a couple of times, but it never worked. “Wherever I was, I wanted to be around horses.” She fell in love with the Methow Valley for several reasons, but its compatibility with a horsey lifestyle wasn’t insignificant in her decision to settle here.
The American Eventing Championships is kind of like a triathlon, with a partnership between horse and rider. Upholding his end of the partnership, Brushy is, Annie says “like a golden-retriever trapped in a horse’s body — or half golden retriever, half tractor. He’s got a lot of athletic ability and he doesn’t get nervous. He was bred to do these kinds of events. He’s reliable but he can go fast if he needs to.”
A 12-year-old American Warmblood, Brushy was originally going to be ridden by Annie’s partner Bob. But as Bob got to know Brushy, he became convinced that Brushy was right for Annie. “Bob was relentless,” Annie says. “He kept saying, ‘He should be your horse.’”
“I had the horse of a lifetime at age 14,” Annie says, referring to her horse, Othello. “Now I have another one in Brushy.”
Between now and the national championships, Annie will continue training with Brushy at eventing centers, as well as taking clinics and seeking some coaching from her daughter, Tulie, an accomplished rider and trainer.
Two weekends ago Annie went to a United States Eventing Association-recognized event to see how she and Brushy measured up to the competition in terms of training techniques and skill level. Although they did quite well, finishing in second place, Annie says “I didn’t feel like I rode very well, so it’s good that we went. I’m out of practice. There’s still time to get my rear in gear between now and the championships.”