The key to a quality course is to cater for the horse's natural movement, says Werner Deeg.

The international course designer is behind the layout of this year's Horse of the Year and was enjoying his first time at the event.

"It's been fantastic, the horses, the people, the atmosphere. I've loved it and can't wait for more."

Mr Deeg builds horse shows around the world and can be at as many as 35.


The German national was a rider, then turned his hand to designing courses and is now responsible for educating other course designers.

"Our sport showcases the beauty of the horses, and I've implemented a new idea, it's called free forward movement."

He said the key was to cater for the horse's natural movement. This made for a nicer run because the rider pulls on the reins less often and the horse moves more naturally, he said.

"This way it keeps them happy and gives them confidence."

The soggy start to the week had Mr Deeg feeling a bit nervous.

"We had to deal with a bit of wet earlier in the week but there were no issues with footing and conditions are just perfect now."

Mr Deeg said spectators only see the end result of the course and not the hours of work that go into its preparation and planning. He needs four to five hours to produce a good course.

He said after yesterday's event he would have a beer then go back to his room and start planning again.

"I'm crazy about course designing."

Mr Deeg has been involved with the European Championships and Spruce Meadows for more than a decade.

Meanwhile, down at the retail tents, Damien Baxley was priding himself on delivering a magnificent "mirror-like finish" with his hoof polish. He'd moved a significant amount of hoof polish over the past few days.

"A well manicured hoof not only avoids splits but also has an aesthetically pleasing appeal."

The polish helps prevent dirt and dust from settling, and seals out excess moisture to harden soft hooves.

He said the week has not only been profitable but highly enjoyable.

"It's fantastic to get so many horse people from all over here in the Bay," Mr Baxley said. "It's a special event and this year has been exceptional in terms of the organisation. Everything has run like clockwork."