Dianne Tidball: Matriarch of Thunderbird Show Park

Credit: Thunderbird Show Park

By Lyndsay Thornton

We are pleased to present the winners of our third annual Readers’ Choice Awards, honouring remarkable horses and horse people for their achievements and contributions to Canada’s horse industry.

Our sincere appreciation goes our generous Readers’ Choice Awards sponsor, Bucas, who graciously donated fabulous prizes to our winners. Thank you to everyone who nominated and helped make our Readers’ Choice Awards a success again this year.

Congratulations to our deserving winners.

The 2012 Readers' Choice Awards Winners Are (please read more at each link):
Grated Coconut: Born to Buck
Duane Latimer: Canada's Reining Royalty
Pippa Hodge: A driving force behind therapeutic riding in Canada
Karen Brain: Anything is possible
Hickstead: “He was the best horse in the world”
Eve Mainwaring: "A tremendous horsewoman"
Dianne Tidball: Matriarch of Thunderbird Show Park
Somebeachsomewhere: Racehorse of the Decade
Orion: A Remarkable Therapist
Bill desBarres: "A lifetime in the service of the horse"

Outstanding horsewoman, entrepreneur, and mother turned great-grandmother, Dianne Tidball takes on everything at a full gallop. Her love of horses was kindled in childhood, when, growing up in 1930’s Shanghai, she took to riding a polo pony. During the Second World War, her Polish mother and British father relocated the family to Canada. On Canadian soil, she bred, raised, and rode her horse, Hotchabuck, to become the first ever BC-born American Quarter Horse Association Champion in 1976. It is this unyielding dedication to follow through with her vision that has made Thunderbird Show Park what it is today: a world class show jumping destination.

Dianne Tidball Legacy Grand Prix Thunderbird Show Park

Photo: Totem Photographics
Under Dianne’s careful management, Thunderbird Show Park developed into a world-class show jumping venue, attracting top riders from around the world.

With her husband, George, she envisioned and built the equestrian facility in 1973. Then, in 1999, she reimagined the venue, relocating the show park to the beautiful 84 acre property in Langley, BC, where Thunderbird stands today. Dianne, at age 67, with the help of architect Robert Jolicoeur, oversaw the extensive planning and development of the new show park which today features six competition rings, three indoor arenas, five warm-up rings, stabling for up to 890 horses, riding trails, and even a golf course. She continued to manage Thunderbird until 2005, realizing her dream of showcasing every aspect of horse sport, from short-stirrup division to World Cup, and hosting competitions for various breeds and disciplines as well. In 2009, Dianne and George were inducted into the Jump Canada Hall of Fame, recognized for their lifetime commitment to the industry.

For over forty years, Dianne’s hardworking motto was to never ask an employee to do something you wouldn’t do yourself; she could clean and sweep stalls better than anyone. Working on the grounds, running the business, raising her four children, and hosting dinners for family and horse show friends was all in what Dianne would call “a simple day’s work.”

Dianne’s dedication to equestrian sport and her diligence has been passed on to flourish through the generations. Her daughter, Laura, has competed at two Olympic Games in show jumping as part of the Canadian Equestrian Team.

Dianne Tidball Legacy Grand Prix Thunderbird Show Park

Photo: Courtesy of Thunderbird Show Park
An outstanding horsewoman, visionary entrepreneur, and dedicated mother turned great-grandmother, Dianne Tidball was the driving force behind the creation of Thunderbird Show Park.

Dianne’s second daughter, Jane, has taken the reins of the family business, and is now president of Thunderbird, while 16 members from three generations of the Tidball family actively contribute to the show park. The family’s hard work and commitment to horse sport, as well as their genial hospitality, has been recognized internationally, and in January 2012, Thunderbird Show Park was ranked the number two show jumping venue in North America by the North American Riders Group.

Thunderbird Show Park now boasts over $750,000 in prize offerings each year, including the annual $50,000 Dianne Tidball Legacy Grand Prix and the $100,000 Fortress Paper World Cup. The show jumping tournaments attract some of the world’s top riders, including Ian Millar, Eric Lamaze, Richard Spooner, Rich Fellers, Jaime Azcarraga, Jill Henselwood, Ashley Bond, and Pablo Barrios.

Dianne’s vision has been instrumental in developing the equine industry in BC from rural pastures into a stronghold for equestrian sport. Her remarkable legacy continues within the Tidball family, and in her many friends and supporters in the equestrian community.

Main article photo: Courtesy of Thunderbird Show Park - Dianne and husband George are both exceptional horse people with a deep commitment to supporting the equestrian community in BC.


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