by Ronda Payne/Special to the Langley Advance Times
Guests of Thunderbird Show Park may think that tbird only offers a couple of events each year, like the Longines FEI Jumping World Cup happening this Sunday, Aug. 25.
But a lot goes on throughout the year at the equestrian centre according to Chris Pack, chief operating officer and tournament manager with tbird.
“Between the shows, it’s a lot of construction and building and maintenance,” he said. “We’re always trying to improve on services for our guests and spectators. But, all season long, we do different types of breed shows those various groups organize themselves. We rent the tbird space to them.”
These events include the British Columbia Quarter Horse Association’s West Coast Summer Classic held at tbird in July, the Region 17 Championship Arabian & HA/AA Horse Show in May, and the September Canadian Thoroughbred Horse Society: British Columbia Division’s sale. Allowing these groups to make use of tbird outside of the major event times ensures they have an appropriate place to host their equine events that ensures safety, parking for trailers, stalls for horses and all sorts of specific details are met. Events are posted on the tbird site at tbird.ca as they are approaching, Pack said.
“There is also community riding all winter long every Tuesday and Saturday,” he noted. “And the BC Lower Mainland Region of the Canadian Pony Club hosts their year-end show here in October.”
Even equestrian vaulters (a mix of gymnastics and dance performed on horseback) like the Triple M Farms team do a demo at a quarter horse event at tbird in March. This means that whether an equestrian enthusiast’s interest is in riding, watching jumping, taking part in agility events or witnessing the fascinating moves of vaulters, they can see and do it all at tbird.
Additionally, it isn’t just about the horses. Tbird has also been home to the BC/Yukon and North American dog agility championships for a number of years. Dogs and their handlers come on site to prove their abilities by competing in an obstacle course to achieve the best time and accuracy. Unlike horses, where the rider’s position plays a part in how the horse knows what to do, dogs must rely on verbal and visual commands from a human to complete their tasks.
“There were a lot of dogs on site during those events,” Pack says.
Of course the areas that aren’t in use by other groups are constantly being checked for maintenance needs and all of the tbird team is dedicated to adding new features to the park every year. Most recently guests and spectators will have seen additions like the horse wash racks, 12’ stalls, a horse path from the stables to the show ring, brand new grandstands with comfortable, individual seats, a children’s playground next to the grandstands and 14 vendor cabins with everything from a coffee shop to a nail salon.
It’s all part of the tbird experience that makes sure guests and spectators have the best possible time at Thunderbird Show Park.
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