There is already non-stop action unfolding at Thunderbird Show Park (affectionately known as Tbird), as the equestrian world competes on a variety of levels and for a host of prizes.
Competition and practice sessions have begun with president and tournament director Jane Tidball explaining that every ring on the site is seeing action.
Horses and riders have been preparing and competing for two weeks prior to today’s (Thursday, June 1) Artisan Farms Grand Prix (5 p.m. start), Friday, June 2’s Nations Cup (4 p.m. start), and Sunday, June 4’s ATCO Grand Prix (2 p.m. start).
While the weekend events feature world-class and Olympic-level riders, there is plenty of action to be seen away from the Grand Prix ring, Tidball explained.
For those interested in simply learning more about horse jumping and what it’s all about, local and regional competitors – as well as younger horses – can be found in the other rings on the Tbird grounds.
“Coming to Thunderbird is more than seeing some horses,” said Tidball. “It’s about learning what for many can be an unfamiliar sport. Show jumping is more than what we see on the Olympics. It takes years and years of training to get to the point of competition, never mind jumping obstacles that can range up to 1.5- to 1.6- metres.”
Every ring will be hosting competitors throughout the weekend. And, of particular interest to sports newbies, might be the hunter jumper ponies that have lower jumps but offer a wide range of riders and horses.
Look for this competition in the grass ring, Tidball said.
There are also young horse events for six- and seven-year-old horses, where grand prix level riders may be working with the younger horses in their team.
“At Thunderbird you have the opportunity to come see the entire development, from young riders on their ponies, to 11-time Olympian Ian Millar,” noted Tidball. “Come experience and learn a whole new sport, that is really the epitome of teamwork.”
The ability to watch up-and-coming riders and horses may take guests away from the grand prix ring, but Tidball knows the experiences are always worthwhile.
There are chances to see the next round of Olympians at the junior rider grand prix and child rider grand prix events on Sunday.
“We love to offer a wide range of activities throughout the afternoons so that everyone comes to experience world-class show jumping,” Tibdall said. “You can come for the full event or come and go as you like.”
With a wide range of prize levels and competitions, the excitement at Tbird has been building over several days leading up to the pinnacle Nations Cup and grand prix events.
And for an extra special experience, on Sunday there’s the 12th annual Grand Prix Gala – from 1 to 4 p.m. – which benefits the Langley School District Foundation.
Tbird offers a true “something for everyone equestrian experience” this weekend, Tidball ensured.
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