It is a slow walk with Maurice Beatson from the showjumping course back to his horse trailer, every second step he is stopped by people who have come to know him after a lifetime of attending Farmlands Horse of the Year.

Yesterday, Mr Beatson, of Dannevirke, now in his 60s rode out onto the Norwood Gold Cup course and jumped four fences before riding in a circle and signalling to the judges that he was retiring from that attempt.

"He was a young horse, only eight years old," he said about the horse he was riding, Mandalay Cove.

"I wasn't going to be able to own the class and I was saving it for another class."


He then came back for a another go, riding Conyers, and placed sixth.

It is not unusual for the rider to make the finals, or even place, first competing in 1965, throughout the years Mr Beatson has won a number of titles and has consistently represented the nation in showjumping.

He is often seen with partner and former Olympian, Sally Clark, attending events nationwide and coaching the Sabre Sam team.

"If the kids want help it's good to give them help, especially if they soak it up and respond.

Ms Clark also competed in GJ Gardner Pro Amateur Rider of the Year Championship where she placed sixth, riding Victoria's Secret.

Sally Clark said the ground was "quite challenging" for her horse, "it was really holding".

Mr Beatson said he was hoping for the ground to dry out. "It was just a bit mucky".

The Dannevirke farmers both began riding at a young age and have had a lifetime involvement with horses.

The pair both said they would continue to ride until there was a reason for them not to.

Ms Clark said: "There's no reason to give up.

"You get to this point and you think, maybe you should give up, and then you try to find a reason why - we're not too old to do it and we do it because we love it."

Owner of Zanadu Equestrian, of Taupo, Toni Bekkers, sponsors the couple.

They use Miss Bekkers' personally designed rugs and halters.

Miss Bekkers started the line to cater to the wider horses New Zealander's were now breeding.

Mr Beatson and Ms Clark had taken horses to America wearing the Zanadu brand which they then sold off there.

"It is really great having them behind me."