horse of the year.

Making his début in New Zealand is German international showjumping course designer Werner Deeg, while his fellow countryman Gotthilf Riexinger will be judging in the premier Dressage Arena.

Deeg boasts a CV filled with some of the best events in the world, including the Olympic Games, European Championships and World Championship for Young Horses as well at events at Aachen, Spruce Meadows, the South American Games in Chile, Sydney and Kuala Lumpur.

He’s also worked alongside some of the greats, including Frank Rothenberger, Leopoldo Palacios, Arno Gegeo, Linda Allen and Paul Weier. Since 2010 he has been the FEI course director of general course design, and responsible for course designers worldwide.

Five star judge Riexinger, the recipient of the German Rider’s Cross in Gold - the highest of equestrian honours from the German Equestrian Federation.

Event director, Dave Mee of SMC Events - the new company behind HOY - says such appointments are just one of the ways the new team plan to up the quality of the show.

It is hoped the change in show dates to the first week in March, which appears to fit with the Australian show calendars, will encourage more Australian combinations to attend.

"Increased interest and participation from Australian competitors is an integral part of HOY’s long term plan, which aims to draw international riders into many of the disciplines at the show," says Mee.

Entertainment for the 2016 show will see plenty of change - a new Wine Village will bring the taste of Hawke’s Bay to the showgrounds, while the Friday Night Extravaganza is in for a revamp, and the HOY After Party will be back with vengeance.

However, at the heart of it all is the priority on the equestrian experience.

"We want to improve the impact of the show on equestrians," says Mee. "Shows all over New Zealand are stepping up and it’s time for HOY to do the same. We’re very enthusiastic about the response so far."

HOY is New Zealand’s most prestigious equestrian event, attracting around 2600 horses from throughout the country to Hawke’s Bay for a week-long celebration where the best in the land are crowned.

More than 75,000 spectators are expected at the Hawke’s Bay Showgrounds to watch combinations compete in everything from showjumping to dressage, eventing to show hunter, showing and many more.

New to the line-up this year is the standardbred section, which is bound to attract plenty of interest.

What: Farmlands Horse of the Year Show

When: March 1-6, 2016

Where: Hawke’s Bay Showgrounds, Hastings

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