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Langley hosts some of worlds best riders this month

A few weeks of intense equestrian competition are underway at tbird during the Summer Fort Festival
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Canadian rider Katie Kruger beat out Langley’s own LJ Tidball Thursday, in the CSI3* tbird 1.40m Challenge. (tbird/Special to Langley Advance Times)

Two consecutive weeks of international three-star competition highlight the August series at Thunderbird Show Park (tbird), as 43 horses jogged for inspection Tuesday for the CSI3* Summer Fort welcome.

Nineteen athletes will represent the home nation, led by two-time Olympian Tiffany Foster.

But on Thursday afternoon, it was another Langley rider and friend who came close to winning the CSI3* tbird 1.40m Challenge. That rider was Laura Jane (L.J.) Tidball, representing Canada, who took second.

Having the advantageous position of following her lone opponent, namely Tidball (CAN), Katie Kruger (CAN) knew exactly what she’d have to do to claim the second international victory of her career.

But her winning strategy was not to try to outdo her competition; it was to simply commit to her own plan.

RELATED – Not too small to win: how a Langley rider found a winner

Kruger and her longtime partner Goodwill VB executed the only double-clear performance of the competition to take the win; the pair crossed the timers of Peter Holmes’ (CAN) short course in 44.94 seconds.

Tidball and Jericho finished second with a score of four faults (44.62 seconds). Ashley Papalia (CAN) and Comme tu Veux Z—fresh off a win of their own in Wednesday’s CSI3* Happy Welcome—finished third after incurring a single time fault in the first round.

“I had walked [jumps] one to two in the nine [strides], and we were watching L.J., and she did the 10,” Kruger said.

“But my horse has a huge step, so we thought the nine would be easy. We walked a few lines that we wouldn’t normally walk, so that I had an idea of what was possible. I rode them exactly how we walked, and it just showed up nicely for me.”

Kruger and now 17-year-old Belgian Warmblood stallion have been partnered for nearly seven years, and they have climbed the ranks from the amateur jumper divisions up to the four-star level. At the 1.40m height, this pair jumps clear 62% of the time, according to Jumpr App.

“He has taught me so much…He is like a pure gift,” Kruger gushed.

“Every day I get to ride him, I am so grateful. He’s just taught me to enjoy every moment and have a little fun with it, because he’s got a good sense of humor, and he has really helped me have a better sense of humor about it, too.”

It was during tbird’s August series in 2021 that Kruger recorded her first FEI win. Adding a second proved to taste just as sweet.

“I’m pretty darn excited,” she shared. “I did not ride as well as I wanted to yesterday, and so it feels pretty great to have a great round today.

“The [tbird] facility is amazing. The ring is beautiful. It’s beautifully maintained. The jumps are gorgeous,” Kruger added. “My horses love the field. It’s just— it’s our favorite place to be.”

Competition at the Summer Fort Welcome kicked off Wednesday with the CSI3* tbird Speed, continues through the next few weeks including the $15,000 CSI3* winning round 1.45M today (Saturday, Aug. 12) at 4 p.m., and among others culminates with the and wraps up Sunday, Aug. 20 with the ATCO Cup Grand Prix at 2 p.m.

Thunderbird is celebrating 50 years this year of providing facilities for the equestrian lovers.

“Every new season we welcome you through the gates at Thunderbird Show Park is cause to celebrate,” said board chair, CEO, and the founder’s daughter Jane Tidball.

“But 2023 is particularly special for our team – it’s tbird’s 50th anniversary. It’s hard to believe that half a century has passed,” she said, since her parents – George and Dianne Tidball – first started hosting horse shows in a cow field.

For more details about the upcoming competitions at tbird, people can go online.

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About the Author: Langley Advance Times Staff

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