When Dayton Gorsline rates Langley’s Thunderbird Show Parks as one of the best places for developing young riders in Canada, it is the opinion of the Jumping Youth Development Program Advisor for the Equestrian Canada (EC) Jumping Talent ID Program.
“It’s a wonderful venue,” Gorsline told the Langley Advance Times.
“Thunderbird, I would say, is the best place in Canada [for developing new riders]. If it’s not the best, it’s in the top two.”
Gorsline suspects many Langley residents aren’t aware they have a world-class equestrian facility.
“They [tbird] run their shows to standards that people like me need to see,” Gortsline summarised.
“I don’t know if everyone out there appreciates how good it is, in their back yard..”
Up and coming riders have an opportunity at tbird to compete against top riders from the U.S. and Mexico, he noted.
“You get good competition out there,” Gorsline observed.
“Thunderbird does a great job.”
He said the pandemic has hampered some young riders, creating what he called a “weird gap” for the youngest competitors, in the 12- to 14-year-old category.
“That age group is a little behind [in competitive experience],” he said.
With the gap, there are fewer riders ready for competition, he said.
“A lot of people were a little reluctant to travel,” Gorsline commented.
“It gives you a smaller pool.”
Gorsline will have an opportunity to see some of the younger riders in person at tbird, where he and his wife will be competing.
“We brought about 20 horses,” he estimated.
Every year at tbird, the George and Dianne Tidball Legacy Foundation scholarship aims to give young people access to the sport.
Thunderbird Scholars have their Thunderbird stabling and show fees covered for the year as well as other items such as VIP passes, riding clothes, signature stable guards and other tbird promotional gear.
A past scholarship beneficiary, Kassidy Keith of Aldergrove has said the coverage of the extra costs was a huge help at a time when she was ready to up her competitive game.
“A fund like this is very important to our sport because it allows juniors with limited funds to be able to show at Thunderbird and gives them a head start to a career path in the sport,” remarked Kassidy, who is a 2015 Legacy Foundation alumni.
“The year I had the scholarship I shared it with Taylor McManus. We have both become professionals and we are doing very well. There have been quite a few daughters of horse trainers that have had this scholarship and it has helped them cover the costs.”
This year, Georgia Fyre, Aren Ozker, and Emma Smith are recipients of the George and Dianne Tidball Legacy Foundation scholarships.
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