Prim earned himself a day off and all the apples he could eat, after securing his mount a second-place win in the Longines FEI World Cup jumping qualifiers in Calgary on Saturday.
“He gets fed as many apples as he wants,” Laura-Jane (L.J.) Tidball told the Langley Advance Monday afternoon, shortly after taking her 13-year-old Selle Francais gelding for a leisurely ride back home.
“He’s super talented and I’m lucky to have him,” said Tidball, noting this horse has been a fixture at the Thunderbird Show Stables since he was five years old.
“He’s grown up with me… it’s a bond… it’s imperative that they want to work for you,” she said, reluctantly taking her share of the credit for the win.
“It is always a partnership,” she said of their second-place win and the receipt of at $26,400 purse.
“This has probably been my biggest result to date,” Tidball said, who’s been riding competitively since she was seven years old.
“I’m ecstatic. I’m so happy my horse did as well as he did… and I’m proud of myself. It was a success and you have to hold onto those.”
Shifting focus back on her horse, Tidball said he never knocked off or even rubbed a jump during the entire 10-day competition in Alberta.
“He was amazing the whole time,” she said. “He was on his A-game.”
Tidball admitted she didn’t push Prim to go too fast earlier in the week. Then realizing how well he was performing, she began to push a little harder.
“Maybe I should have pushed him just a little harder, yet” she added with a chuckle, noting they placed only half a second behind the first-place winner.
The 38-year-old Langley woman was pretty elated with the second-place finish, noting there were 23 riders on the field at the beginning of the week.
What made this success just a little sweeter was knowing her mother Jane Tidball, and her aunt, Laura Balisky – a two-time Olympian and coach – along with her Calgary cousins Scott and Jessica Robbins were all in the audience watching.
She admitted to being a little nervous as she and Prim approached the course, but once they cleared the first jump she forgot about everything and everyone else around them and was focused completely on Prim and the ride.
While Tidball said she’s always known Prim – full name Prim’ de Lairaud – was special, he is not the only horse she’s working with on a regular basis.
She typically rides seven to 10 horses a day at the Langley stable, and there is one other horse in the barn that she believes is just as “special” as Prim.
That’s Liam, a 10-year-old Canadian Warm Blood gelding who was breed at the farm.
Tidball elaborated that a rider needs a couple strong horses when competing at this level.
Needless to say, Saturday’s seating in Calgary means Prim was lavished with love and attention immediately after the competition.
“Prim got a lot of apples out of this,” she said, but noted the rejoicing is already behind them, as they get back to saddle with plans to compete in at HITS Triple Crown show jumping grand prix competition in Thermal, Calif. in March for a $1-million purse.
Having competed at the grand prix level since the age of 16, Tidball is no stranger to the hard work and dedication it takes at every level to compete in the sport of show jumping.
She’s come a long ways from those pony hunter competitions as a youngster.
Winning the Equine Canada medal in 1994 and competing on the British Columbia Young Riders’ team in 1996 cemented Tidball’s plans of becoming a lifelong equestrian.
Since then, she has enjoyed success in hunters, jumpers, and equitation. And after a successful European tour, she returned to Canada in 2005 to join Thunderbird’s operation professionally.
In addition to competing, she helps manage Thunderbird Show Stables, a training barn located at 64th Avenue and 232nd Street.
There, visitors could find her coaching, riding, training, driving the tractor, setting jumps, starting young horses, or any of the other duties required in operating a training barn.
Among her other notable accomplishments, Tidball was the 2014 Leading BCHJA rider in the FEI World Cup West Coast league rankings, being named the 2014 BCHJA leading trainer of the year with Thunderbird Show Stables, and riding Thunderbird Show Stables’ Liam to the BCHJA 1.40m championship in 2014.
Now, she can add this past weekend’s ranking as Canada’s lead rider at the Longine event to her growing list of successes.