After being out of action for many years, Sandy Stead, of Taupo, cannot believe she is back on a horse - and competing.

The 52-year-old said she was thrilled to be back at Farmlands Horse of the Year after last competing at the event in 2009.

"I never thought I would get another go at being here and doing this."

Tightly holding the reins of her horse, Maximus Meridus, who was dead-set on finding food, Mrs Stead said she had competed earlier in show jumping and came 16th out of 120 entrants.


Explaining what is was like to jump a fence out on the course she said: "It's all about the trust between you and your horse, there is a sequence of steps before the jump. You can't jump too early or too deep, otherwise you will hit a rail."

Not only were there people revisiting their old dreams on the third day of the premier equestrian event, but also those just beginning theirs.

Isla Ericsson, 7, said her favourite part about coming to the event was to watch Keeping up with the Kaimanawa's star, Amanda Wilson, compete.

Her mum, Toni Ericsson said: "We just come here and dream."

While Isla has a horse of her own back home in Wanganui, coming to the annual premier equestrian event stoked her passion to eventually compete.

Ms Ericsson, holding two bursting bags, said she had been enjoying the shopping and usually looked forward to the night market which not only sold equestrian gear but also showcased some of Hawke's Bay's finest foods and produce.

Neither she, nor her friend Chrissy Chambers, who had brought her 10 year-old son Coby to the show competed, but both agreed they enjoyed making the journey to camp for two nights.

Event manager Dave Mee said the third day had turned out to be "beautiful, really".

"It's always slightly easier and positive with weather like this."

After a mucky ground following rain the past couple of days, Mr Mee said the ground was now "pretty close to perfect".

As the weather continues to hot up so do the events. Today there are three key events, the Dunstan Young Rider is on at 1.15pm and the McMillan Silver Fern Stakes will begin at 4.30pm.

Then, at 7.30pm tonight the Friday Night Extravaganza is expected to wow crowds with renowned extreme free rider Alycia Burton set to perform.

In previous years, crowdsof 50,000 had been reported.

The manager said the first three days of the event were the "lighter" days but it had "felt quite full" yesterday and he was looking forward to the final biggest three days.