By Tammy Coulter
There is an amazing family living in our community, like so many others. Julie and Josh Budgell have been in the area for about the last 10 years. Julie moved from Vancouver while Josh came from Ontario. Julie admits she prefers the snow and sunshine over rain any day. They have two children, Blair who is 8 and they are the guardians for Megan Pettyjohn, Miss Teepee Creek Rodeo. Julie loves the area and her daughter, Blair does too. Blair loves going to Bezanson School while Megan finished her schooling at Peace Wapitti Academy. One of the many things Julie is involved in is the Grande Prairie 4-H Multi club where she is the horse leader and Megan is the Assistant General Leader.
The family is very low-key, according to Julie. For the most part, they stick around home going for trail rides, or playing on their horses in their newly built outdoor arena. During the summer, if they aren’t out camping, they are at a rodeo with Hoofbeats for Hope, a local musical ride drill team. The rodeos are a big family event as Julie rides, Josh is part of the ground crew and Blair is around to help with the horses. The eight-year-old wants to become part of the Hoofbeat’s team. For now, that would mean helping with poop control and sparkling the horses.
The Budgells have just finished a new outdoor riding arena at their farm and Julie has some big plans for that arena. She wants to teach horsemanship to anyone who asks, but mainly is focusing on teaching the youth of the area. By doing the lessons, Julie hopes to spend more time at home and less time working away from home. All of her lessons have the end goal of teaching the student all about working with horses from the ground up. So she teaches them all about brushing, nutrition, tacking horses and learn about animals in general. By the time they finish the first lesson, Julie gets the student to be on the horse, even if it is just having the horse on a lead. One of the things Julie herself gets from being with the horses is a form of therapy for her.
The whole point of the lessons is to give back to the community that supports her family and Hoofbeats for Hope. One of the things Julie is big on is safety around the horses. She would welcome any help caring for her herd of horses, even if it’s just helping to groom the horses and mucking out stalls. The herd includes some very special horses for Julie and her family. Julie would eventually love to have a covered arena so lessons can happen all year round, but for now, summer lessons in the open air will have to do.
60 is about 23 years old and Julie picked him up from Colorado. Based on how 60 was when she got him, Julie does believe he was abused. 60 is one of the herd favourites with anyone who’s met him. He was Julie’s racetrack pony, so he helped her make a living. Megan also used 60 as her 4-H horse, as well as using him for her runs at becoming Rodeo Queen.
Then there is Kiddo, Julie’s heart horse. She’s had Kiddo since Kiddo was 2 years old. She also picked up Kiddo from the States, and although she is also up there in age, with the right rider, she brings back out her spunk and spirit. That is usually with adult riders. With kids, she is kind and gentle, a great horse for kids to learn on. When Megan made her second attempt for Miss Teepee Creek, her beloved horse, 60, got injured and she had to use Kiddo. By the end of the weekend, Kiddo had helped Megan become the 2019 Miss Teepee Creek Rodeo Queen. Kiddo’s spunk was a lot to handle, but knowing the horse as well as she did, Megan managed admirably.
Lizzy is a buckskin mare and Julie’s tank of the herd. She’s about seven or eight years old. She is really a gifted horse and all Julie’s for riding, especially as Lizzy is Julie’s main go-to when it comes to drill. Last is Sapphire, who is a paint, who is a gift from a friend who wanted a good home for Sapphire in her retirement. As long as Julie can keep Sapphire, this paint will continue to enjoy her retirement and be a good horse for young Blaine.
If you are interested in setting up lessons for you or your children with Julie, you can contact her through her Facebook page, Julie’s Equine. If you message her, she will get back to you as soon as she can. Her phone number is on the site as well, so you can call or text. If nothing else, Julie works at the Bezanson Store and is happy to talk to people. She plans on starting to set her schedule for lessons in mid-March.
In addition to Hoofbeats for Hope, riding lessons, working at the store and being part of 4-H, Julie also turns a creative mind to making unique wooden signs. This is just a hobby and got into doing them when Josh started getting into doing router work, and Julie decided to help with colour. It’s merely something to keep Julie busy in the winter time.
When asked if there is one thing Julie could change about her life, Julie admits there isn’t anything she would change about her life. She is very happy where she is with work, home, and life. If nothing else, she is hoping to grow her equine lessons each and every year. With her lessons, she wants to show kids how to grow and gain more confidence through working with the horses.
For Julie, Bezanson has grown immensely since she arrived ten years ago. The Knelson Centre is a wonderful addition for functions in the community. Ever since it opened, Julie has been the bartender for the majority of the events at the centre, including the Golden Leaf Dine and Dance. She does miss doing the bartending, but knows eventually Covid will end and there will be many more events for her to tend bar at. She loves the skating arena and hopes to see that get developed more. And the riding arena near the Legion Hut she would love to be able to do riding lessons there as well, or doing a drill display during any events at the centre.
In the next five years, Julie and Josh hopes to build a new house on their property, but other than that, there is nothing major planned. The Budgells will continue to give back to the community they fell in love with ten years ago and look forward to the challenges life throws at them.