There is always something new to reveal at Thunderbird Show Park (tbird), and this year is no different when the park hosts the Longines FEI Jumping Nations Cup of Canada the first weekend in June.
While part of the improvements that constantly go on at tbird are asthetic necessities — like repainting poles, replacing gravel roadways, and refilling riding ring base materials — additional improvements implemented are essential when inviting people from around the world to the facility for the equestrian community’s biggest event.
Chris Pack, tbird’s president and operations director, said the park is once again striving to be as impressive as possible this year.
For instance, a new “Kids Zone” for the Nations Cup day is being built, which will include a bouncy castle, pony rides, facepainting, and a timed course for kids.
“So, the kids will get to go over specifically made kids jumps and they’ll get their time put on the back of a ribbon,” Pack explained.
And the upgrades and special features are not exclusive to the homo sapiens attending.
For the horses, a wellness centre was built — literally a spa building for competing horses. It’s a big tub that a horse walks into. The tub is then filled up with water to the horse’s knees or higher, and then it provides a warm salt bath with jets.
Pack said the spa has the same benefits for horses as it would for humans, providing muscle relaxation, muscle recovery, and fatigue.
“It’s really good for them. This would probably be the first Nations Cup show that the wellness centre is active with the spa.”
Horses can go in the spa up to three times a week, but it depends on their age and how much they jump, he added.
This year, tbird is expecting more than 1,000 horses. To prepare, Pack said 1,250 stalls were set up.
Two new riding arenas were also built — Brown Family ring (a warm-up space) and the Bakerview arena, which allows the park to have more show scheduled, Pack said.
There will also be food trucks, vendors, and a shuttle to the cabins in the park.
The Nations Cup is happening on Sunday, June 4, with activities from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. at tbird.
On Friday, June 2, competitions run 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.
The Saturday schedule runs from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.
And Sunday’s big $400,000 Longines FEI Jumping Nations Cup is from 2 to 4 p.m. with gates opening at 1 p.m.
General admission for the Nations Cup is $10 per person, while children five and younger are admitted free.
Spectator tickets for any of these events can be bought online at tbird.ca.
The public is asked to enter the gates at 6975 248th St.