Northland equestrian officials Neville and Gai Edge have won a national volunteer award from the sport's national body.

The pair were named April's Equestrian Sports New Zealand volunteers of the month, in recognition of more than 40 years of service.

"We were just blown away. It was like possum in the headlights, we were totally shocked," Gai said.

"I've seen people get these things before, we've even nominated people before but when it happens to you, it certainly brightened up our [Covid-19] exile we were in."

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Neville said, "I was quite surprised. You don't sort of think about those things do you?"

Gai Edge (right) has seen many of Northland's top riders emerge on the national stage. Photo / Supplied
Gai Edge (right) has seen many of Northland's top riders emerge on the national stage. Photo / Supplied

Neville and Gai, both 78, had a passion for horse riding on their 800-acre Whananaki South farm alongside their three children, who became involved in the Tutukaka Pony Club.

"The kids had horses and they used to ride around the farm and it was just part of country life," Gai said.

"I think the first [pony club] meeting I went to, I ended up as treasurer.

"Then the kids grew up and finished with their riding and we became officials in the eventing and showjumping world and that's what we are still doing."

More than 40 years on, Neville and Gai have worked on behalf of many regional and national equestrian organisations, committees and clubs - taking them all over the country and sometimes across the globe.

Among others, Neville has held the roles of cross country course designer, showjumping course designer and eventing chief judge. Primarily, Neville now acted as a technical delegate for several large equestrian events, charged with ensuring all facets of a competition ran smoothly.

A former cross country and showjumping course designer, Neville Edge puts his wealth of equestrian knowledge to good use as a technical delegate. Photo / Supplied
A former cross country and showjumping course designer, Neville Edge puts his wealth of equestrian knowledge to good use as a technical delegate. Photo / Supplied

Similarly, Gai had maintained many roles, including her current role of area delegate for Northland Showjumping, and as a regular steward and judge at major competitions.

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Although she said the Covid-19 pandemic made it difficult to plan, Gai hoped to continue her service in equestrian sports because of her love of helping people.

"Honestly, I think it's the people you meet and the help that you can give them, sorting out problems they might have and the appreciation you get from the riders.

"We've had a terrific team of people we've worked with over the years and that's what makes any sport event. If you get people in the right places, you'll have a good event."

Neville, a co-designer of Whangārei's Barge Park original track in 1993, said he enjoyed seeing the success of a range of people who had a passion for horses.

"You meet a lot of different people - you get truck drivers, merchant bankers, fishermen, all sorts and it's an interest to see the horses and riders coming through and going up in their grades."