New spectators are expected to discover tbird for the first time this Sunday during the Nations Cup. (Matthew Claxton /Langley Advance)

Always something new at tbird in Langley

From shops and services to new riding rings, there are new features to explore.

By Ronda Payne/Special to the Langley Advance

Jane Tidball, president and tournament director at Thunderbird Show Park, will often quote her mother, Dianne Tidball, when she says she wants people to come to tbird every year and wonder what’s new.

It’s one of the things that keeps the tbird team constantly planning for the future.

“We’re in the 45th year,” she said of tbird’s history. “In the last 10 years we have tripled in size.”

A new trail is in its final stages of being built, which will give FEI (Federation Equestre Internationale) level horses safe travel-paths while still allowing guests to view these high-calibre equine competitors and their teams.

It will help separate the horses from strollers, umbrellas, kids and other things that might spook them or cause accidents.

In addition to the trail, the site has seen the addition of a number of silica surface rings preferred by most riders, and tbird will also be twining the FEI barn to have it ready for August’s Summer Fort Classic and Summer Fort Festival events.

“There are more spectator amenities,” Tidball added. “We’re getting more people involved in our events.”

At the new tbird village cabins, guests will find a wellness clinic (with chiropractic care among other services), coffee shops, a nail salon, dog grooming, snacks, and tbird merchandise to name a few.

“You should see how many riders like to get their nails done,” joked Tidball. “This is for our spectators, as well as our exhibitors.”

The constant hum of growth and activity is what allows the tbird team to work 18 hours-a-day leading up to and during events like the June 3 Longines FEI Nations Cup Jumping of Canada.

It’s also what keeps them looking to other activities to see what can be added to tbird in the future to take events from being Langley-focused to being B.C.-focused.

Last week, for instance, tbird hosted an event in the parking area in front of the Queen Elizabeth Theatre in downtown Vancouver to showcase equestrian events and help educate the public while inviting them to come out and witness a Nations Cup.

The event included a polo match and a grand prix, which happened on 480 tonnes of silica laid out on the parking lot.

The ring was complemented with a spectator area, VIP area, pony rides and more.

This helps bring people from Vancouver, and other points east, to Langley for events like the Nations Cup on Sunday.

“People like to come here because it’s a boutique environment,” Tidball said. She knows that by growing the spectator base, the sport will grow – which benefits Langley and the interest in horses.

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