Farmlands Horse of the Year continues to run each year with the help of 400 volunteers.
Allison Jamieson of Plimmerton and Belinda Lancaster of Christchurch make the journey north to volunteer at the event each year.

Both women are nurses, Ms Lancaster, who said she was not "horsey in any way", writes scores for the judges, of which Ms Jamieson is one.

Ms Jamieson had grown up with horses and introduced her friend to the HOY scene.

"It's like my North Island family, I just love this week," Ms Lancaster said.


"We are just two of 400 volunteers," she added.

Yesterday marked the second day of the annual premier horse event, but it also gave event-goers a taste of the bigger competitions yet to come.

While there was a handful of other events on yesterday , the crowd was humming with excited chatter about the Norwood Gold Cup which began not long after midday.

Most of New Zealand's top riders lined up with their Grand Prix horses for the show jumping class.

Riders were dressed in sleek show coats and some horses wore elegant head gear.

Each took their turn on the course before the "jump off" at the end for the qualifiers.

Excited spectators, nervous families and keen coaches crowded to watch the action.

Intermittent gasps sliced through silence before the crowd applauded each competitor.

Laura Hutterd, 19, from Taranaki said the cup was one of her favourites to watch.

"It would be the first start for all the top Grand Prix horses really."

Miss Hutterd said HOY was one of the few places where everyone came together, "from the South Island, even from Australia".

Mentioned by many who attend the annual event year after year, coming to Hawke's Bay for the event was like reuniting with their HOY family.

Among some of those familiar faces was Katie Laurie, New Zealand's best show jumper.

"I haven't missed a year. It's such a good show."

While riding, the buttons on her show coat were being pressed ever so slightly by her pregnant stomach.

"I timed it quite well, the baby is due in July and I will be back again next year."

Mrs Laurie had competed while pregnant before, her now one and a half year old daughter slept peacefully in the pram next to her.

She said she had cut down the number of horses she was riding this year but had two in the two big classes, "so hopefully go well there".

Event manager, Dave Mee, said the second day had run "pretty smoothly".
"The competitors are really warming up themselves."

Mr Mee said it was "slightly soft underfoot today" but he was expecting the grounds to dry out with clear skies forecast right through to the end of the premier equestrian event.

The competitions were continuing to step up a notch building up to the Olympic Cup on Sunday.