Tiffany Foster grew up riding horses at Thunderbird Show Park.
Now living in Wellington, Fla., the 31-year-old Foster hopes to make her most recent homecoming at the $85,600 CSI04 Furusiyya Nations Cup, hosted by Thunderbird on Friday, June 3.
“I am hoping to compete at the Nations Cup,” Foster confirmed recently.
If Foster returns to the Langley equestrian centre as a member of Team Canada, she’ll be back on familiar soil, a place where she has competed countless times.
Foster moved to Langley with her mom and sister when she was 14, and worked for Brent and Laura Balisky from the ages of 13 to 21.
She left Langley in 2005 to work for Olympic gold medalist Eric Lamaze and Torrey Pines Stable and has been back at Thunderbird twice since then to compete.
“To come back for their First Nations Cup would really mean a lot to me,” she said.
Foster describes Thunderbird as a “world-class facility.”
“I think [president] Jane [Tidball] and [vice-president and tournament manager] Chris [Pack] and the whole team at Tbird truly strive for excellence,” Foster said. “It’s a great place to compete and a super friendly atmosphere that makes it one of the shows I look forward to most throughout the year.”
Foster spends the winter months in Florida, before heading on the road the rest of the year – mainly in Europe and a few weeks in Calgary.
“We have a base in Belgium, so I spend a lot of time there,” Foster elaborated.
She hopes to find herself in Rio de Janeiro – the site of the 2016 Olympics – in August.
Canada qualified as a nation for the Olympics with a gold medal at the Pan American Games last year and Foster currently has a certificate of capability on four on her horses.
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If she competes on the world’s largest sporting stage in Rio, it will be a culmination of more than two decades of hard work.
Foster started riding horses at the age of eight at the North Shore Equestrian Centre and then began getting more serious at 12, when she started training with the Baliskys.
“I rode my whole junior career mainly in the hunters and equitation, so it was when I moved to Eric and Torrey Pines Stable that my career as a show jumper really got some traction,” Foster recalled.
It was there where Foster met Carlene and Andy Ziegler, of Artisan Farms.
“That’s when things really took off,” Foster shared. “I always knew that this was what I wanted to do, but having such supportive and generous people along the way is what has made getting to this level possible.”
She exploded onto the international show jumping scene in 2011 and made her Canadian equestrian team debut aboard Southvwind VDL in the $350,000 BMO Nations’ Cup at the Spruce Meadows “Masters” tournament, helping Canada earn a second-place finish.
Foster has now represented Canada in 21 Nations Cup competitions worldwide, including Buenos Aires, Argentina; Barcelona, Spain; and Aachen, Germany, as well as at the 2014 Alltech FEI World Equestrian Games in Normandy, France.
Since she was a young girl, Foster has been drawn to show jumping, which she says is an appealing sport on many levels.
“I think the connection between rider and horse is my favourite part but a good jump-off is so thrilling and the added element of risk makes it very exciting,” Foster said.
Currently, Foster has “several horses that I have the privilege of riding” but her main equine partner is Tripple X III, an Anglo European sport horse.
“He has a lot of personality and he is very dependable with a ton of scope and he’s very quick for a big horse,” Foster said. “I absolutely adore him.”
Foster also has “a very exciting group of young horses that are starting to come into their prime,” she believes.
“I am really looking forward to the next few years with them.”
An immediate goal is to represent Canada in Rio this summer.
Down the road, Foster hopes to compete in the 2018 World Equestrian Games, taking place at the Bromont Olympic Equestrian Park in Bromont/Montreal.
“In the meantime, I would like to continue to climb the world rankings,” Foster said.
“And, of course, an Olympic gold medal would be nice.”