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New base material keeps Langley show rings dry

Thunderbird dumps a bundle of money and energy into always maintaining and upgrading the show rings.
Tbird president Jane Tidball says the new silica footing feels like wax and fluff put together. (Ronda Payne/Langley Advance)

Tbird is always changing – even after all these years, there’s always lots to do!

Thunderbird Show Park has grown dramatically through the last few years.

After being named number two equestrian show park in North America for consecutive years, the Tbird team has gone to having sold out shows within hours of opening entries.

This growth and success also means more rings, more stalls, and constant development.

During off-season for competitors (the winter), that means it’s construction time for Tbird.

This year the biggest project was installing silica footing in the Pacific Park jumper ring.

Silica creates a soft, springy footing for the horses, helping to reduce the force of impact while jumping. And one of the largest draws to Thunderbird for competitors is the footing.

Many local and international competitors comment on the footing as being a key aspect to the Thunderbird showing experience.

Thunderbird construction crews put in the drainage, grids, and base of rock and sand, then the silica on top.

This creates a base that keeps the silica footing on top, while the water can drain out the bottom.

With all the rain this year, construction created a giant mud bath. But now – with things drying up – the ring is ready to go.

You can spot the silica footing by its light almost beige colour compared to the grey of the sand rings.

The growth of Thunderbird Show Park has been ongoing since its opening, with annual projects and constant expansion.

Last year, for instance, the crew built entirely new FEI stabling, updated the hunter rings, and expanded the VIP area.

But with shows selling out and giant waitlists, there can never be enough improvements.

– Emily Penn is press officer for Thunderbird Show Park

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