In 1966, George and Dianne Tidball purchased a horse for their oldest daughter Kathy for $150. One thing led to another and soon they had sold their West Vancouver house and moved to an acreage in Fort Langley. In 1970, the couple purchased another property and built an indoor arena, two barns and two outdoor rings. They hosted their first show in 1972 at their new Thunderbird Equestrian Centre, which earned a reputation as a top show facility throughout the ’80s and ’90s. When development encroached, the equestrian centre closed and was resurrected on a new 83-acre property in Langley and Thunderbird Show Park was created with the help of venue designer Robert Jolicoeur. Dianne managed Thunderbird (now known simply as tbird) from 1999-2005 when she handed the reins to her daughter Jane.
Tbird is now a state-of-the-art facility that holds nine hunter/jumper show tournaments annually including the CSIO5* Oldum Brown BC Open (featuring the $400,000 Longines FEI Jumping Nations Cup™ of Canada and the $235,000 CSIO5* Longines Grand Prix), 2* Summer Fort Welcome, and 3* Summer Fort Classic ($100,000 CSI3* ATCO Cup) and Summer Fort Festival ($100,000 CSI3* Volvo Canada Cup). In total, roughly $2,000,000 is up for grabs in 2020. For several years, tbird also ran one of just 14 prestigious Longines FEI Jumping World Cup classes in North America, but that league has been trimmed to just eight qualifiers starting with the 2020-2021 season. Tbird also offers the popular Canadian Hunter Derby Series, an Under-25 league, Young Horse jumper classes, a WCHR National program, plus Jump Canada and CET Medal classes.
Last year, the Summer Series was expanded, adding a third week of competition in August. And tbird gives back; the management team has even travelled to Guatemala to visit Los Patojos school, a JustWorld International Partner Project that is supported in part by generous donations collected at tbird tournaments.
Notable for its world-class facilities, stunning location and welcoming atmosphere, tbird is a popular destination for riders across Canada and the US. Its mission is to support the grassroots of the sport, from ponies, young riders, amateurs and developing horses all the way to the top international competitors. Chief Operating Officer & Tournament Manager, Chris Pack, is proud of the contribution they are making to this endeavour. “We love how an emphasis has been put on the grass roots of the sport and we hope to be a staunch supporter of introducing new families into the equestrian world.”
“Our goals for 2020 include improvements in the following key areas: stabling, footing, prize money and our customers’ experience. Our entire team takes tremendous pride in all those areas and we look to get stronger year after year.”
“We are always trying to improve our facility and our sport. The Tidball family’s goal is to be leaders in the sport and carry on what George and Dianne started over four decades ago into the next 10 years and beyond.”