by Ronda Payne/Special to Langley Advance Times
The joy of being at Thunderbird Show Park for events like the Longines FEI Jumping Nations Cup comes, in part, from the excitement of being live and in-person watching near perfection in the ring.
Perfection is exactly what the team at tbird strives for with every guest and competitor’s experience.
Chris Pack, tbird’s president and operations director, said that if all the elements in front of spectators, as well as those behind-the-scenes, are done properly and planned out, it’s more likely to make for those perfect experiences.
“They make the competition experience better,” he said. “We focus on the little things so they can focus on the big things.”
An important behind-the-scenes element that has made a huge difference at tbird is the hiring of facility manager Ian Kerr. He takes care of numerous details specific to riders, horses, and guests.
“He comes from an animal background,” said Pack. “He is a great leader… He has helped them be more independent.”
Kerr is also a friend of Pack’s and the two of them were found working together with an excavator and dump truck to complete another task not focused on at events.
In the covered ring with the German Geotextile silica surface footing, they were replacing a surface covering that makes for a gentler ride.
Competitors may be surprised by the things available to them at tbird this year.
They are already familiar with the pathways for horse teams only, like the FEI trail running past many of the stalls to the central riding rings. However, they may not know there is a horse wellness centre on site that includes vets, massage, a jet spa and so much more.
Because these massive animals are athletes, they must be taken care of, as well as their human counterparts. Pack said only in relatively recent history have horses received that level of competitive assistance to stay in top shape.
Horse care isn’t really a little thing, but it does have many aspects. There are numerous grazing areas around tbird’s 83 acres, as well as trails to give horses – and riders – distance from the fans and the ability to focus on the next round or decompress after the last one.
It’s easy to overlook the behind-the-scenes elements of an event as massive as these, but at tbird, everyone can enjoy an enhanced experience.
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