When Kyle King returns to the arena at the Thunderbird Show Park in Langley this weekend, it will be as a returning champion and a local rider.
“I kind of have home field advantage, here,” is how King put it.
It will also be his first big competition at tbird since he gained permanent resident status in Canada about a month ago.
For now, the Telegraph Trail resident, who does most of his grocery shopping in Fort Langley, will still be considered a U.S.A. rider at competitions.
But in about two years, he will be eligible to apply for dual citizenship – at which point, he could ride as a Canadian, if he wants, something that would allow him to compete as a local.
While King has done well at tbird and other top-level equestrian events in Canada, his main reason for moving to Langley was simple.
“I got married to my lovely wife, Emily,” he said.
“She’s a Canadian from Victoria.”
And, to be sure, his visits as a competitive rider have gone well on this side of the 49th parallel.
“I’ve been coming up here for the last five years pretty solid,” he said.
“I’ve liked showing up [here] my whole life.”
With a note of justifiable pride, King described how he began coming to Thunderbird Show Park way back when he was teenager – back when it was based at 200th Street and the Trans-Canada Highway, before tbird relocated to 248th Street and 72nd Avenue.
He is full of praise for tbird and its continuing upgrades.
“The crowds have been growing and it’s nice for us competitors,” King observed.
Adding more stands for fans had added to the experience, he added.
“It’s really starting to look like a stadium.”
With the improvements to the venue has come a tougher level of competition, with what King described as “serious horsepower” battling it out.
“I can hold my own,” he said, which is something of an understatement.
In May of last year, King won the inaugural Vancouver Grand Prix at Thunderbird Show Park, defeating a field of 19 riders from Canada, U.S.A., Ireland, Israel, and the Netherlands riding Christian, an eight-year-old Westphalian stallion.
Other wins north of the border have included the May 2013 Grand Prix at tbird, where King celebrated the 40th season at the Langley facility by winning the $25,000 Canadian Premiere Grand Prix, beating a field of 37 riders
In 2011, at the Rocky Mountain Classic in Calgary, King (who was listed as a resident of Ocala, FL) won the $50,000 CSI2* G2 Financial Group Grand Prix.
That was after winning the $125,000 CN World Cup Grand Prix during the Spruce Meadows “Continental” Tournament in June of the same year.
In June of this year, King finished an extremely close second behind Parada Vallejo of Mexico in the CSI2* tbird Welcome event, Vallejo rode Maria Hank’s Cassidy Z to the top prize, crossing the timers 59.62 seconds while King made the run in 59.64 seconds.
In an interview on horse-canada.com, Rocky Mountain tournament organizer John Anderson called King a “truly talented” and generous competitor.
“It has been great for our young up and coming grand prix riders to be able to watch and learn from him,” Anderson said.
“He’s even helped me out with my own horses and riding. Many of our riders here have stood up and taken notice of his abilities, and there is always a crowd watching him at the ring.”
King is a second-generation equestrian.
Like his father, a professional horseman, King and his wife are raising a string of horses, working with them until they are ready to be sold.
Which, it turns out, is another reason for his move to Canada.
“Langley and Calgary have become home to a lot of quality horses,” King observed.
“It’s been a hunting hole for me and my father, for my father for sure, going back 40 years.”
Their current string is especially promising.
“I’ve got a barn full of winners,” he said, but it will take time to bring them along.
“This is still sort of a developing year for me,” he explained.
“I’ve got a nice group of horses. I feel like I’m in a good place now a far as the developing stages.”
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