Horse of the Year celebrates 20th anniversary

By Aroha Treacher
  • North Island: East Coast

Horse of the Year, held in Hawke's Bay, celebrates its 20th anniversary this year.  The event, which started with just 80 horses, has grown to 1800 horses and attracts thousands ever year. 

They call it the number one New Zealand event on the equestrian calendar and it's a huge undertaking each year.

"It encompasses about 3000 people camping on site, over 1800 horses, close to 1400 riders, so if you escalate that up it's a huge amount of people," Dave Mee, Event Director.

The huge number of horses over the six day event means a huge amount of horse manure needs to be picked up to keep the grounds tidy.

"For the duration of this show we collect about 120 tonnes of horse manure.  It takes about five hours to load the truck with a tractor, all the manure gets collected and delivered through to Bio Rich so it's a pretty big deal around here," says Stefanie Ryan,

The event has around 7,000 entries this year and is estimated to pump $12.5mil into the local economy of Hawke's Bay.

"It's really grown.  It's pretty much at a plateau of capacity right now because we can't fit more people.  If we could I'm sure there would be more people but we simply can't fit more people in the facilities we've got," says Mee.

Each year features international and national stars and the event open to not only the elite but also primary-aged pony club riders.