Hundreds of horses and thousands of people will descend on Langley Township this summer for the Summer Fort Classic at the Thunderbird Show Park.
That won’t just mean a lot of riding, it will mean a sizable economic impact on Langley and the region.
Horses are big business in the Township.
Langley has long been known as the Horse Capital of B.C. It has one of the highest rates of horse ownership per capita in the province, and parts of Langley, particularly South Langley, are laced with horse trails through parks and along major roads.
The local equine industry generates more than $60 million annually, and there are an estimated 429 farms with more than 3,800 horses, or 7.2 per cent of all the horses in the province.
Langley Township is also home to the only neonatal horse hospital in the province, along with a host of other veterinarian practices, trainers, tack and equipment shops, bedding suppliers, and boarding stables.
Show parks, of which Thunderbird is the biggest, have grown up to host world-class equine events.
Now Thunderbird’s big event will be bringing in a host of outside horses, riders, trainers, grooms, and fans for an extended period.
The influx of people will mean an economic event that will involve a lot of locals producers and service providers.
There are already 900 horses expected for the Classic this August, and along with them will come riders, supporters, and family members.
In fact, according to the Horse Council of British Columbia, at a major horse show there will be five people for every horse.
That means approximately 4,500 people will arrive in Langley for the events at Thunderbird.
“Approximately 60 per cent of competitors are from out of province,” said Kelly Coughlin, senior program director for the Horse Council.
“When you factor in the expenses for each person – food, housing, transportation, and entertainment – it is a significant boon to the Langley Township economy.”
To accommodate the huge influx of both humans and horses, stores of feed and bedding are already being brought in, purchased from local and regional suppliers.
In late July, workers at the Thunderbird stables were unloading pallets of pre-bedding for the stalls where most of the horses will be kept during the big event.
Some horses will also be kept at outside boarding stables around Langley Township.
As for the approximately 4,500 humans, many of them will stay in trailers at the Thunderbird Show Park itself, living close to their animals during the competition days.
However, there will be spillover that will fill up some local hotel rooms or bed and breakfasts.
Patrick Sullivan, left, and Ryan Beggs assembled the new sign that will welcome visitors to Thunderbird Show Park.