It’s an impressive line-up of some of the world’s best equestrians in the City of Sails this week for the second biennial EQUITANA Auckland.
Top-billing at the four-day event that kicks off on Thursday (November 21) is global great Sir Mark Todd who in July of this year announced his retirement from international eventing. He will be celebrated with a this is your life evening on Thursday before an expected capacity crowd at the ASB Showgrounds featuring many of his old team-mates, owners and associates from a stellar career that has long captivated the attention of people all over the world.
Also coming home for EQUITANA is Olympic showjumper Bruce Goodin with Netherlands-based Aussie dressage supremo Tristan Tucker also on the card alongside American multi-world title holding horseman Al Dunning.
Each star presenter is holding a masterclass with other education sessions across the family-focused event. There are night shows Thursday, Friday and Saturday with oodles of other attractions including competition in dressage, express eventing, showjumping, showing, horsemanship, show hunter, equitation, carriage driving and more, with horses from all manner of breeds and sizes on display. With around 120 trade stands offering everything from earrings and horse brushes through to exotic holidays and luxurious horse trucks, the shopping is another huge drawcard.
The Way of the Horse, which runs over each of the four days, is considered the ultimate horsemanship challenge and again pitches four horsemen and women from New Zealand and Australia to decide trans-Tasman bragging rights. The four invited trainers have just an hour a day to take unhandled two-year-olds from wild to willing before an attentive crowd and eagle-eyed judges.
Last year East Coast’s Tui Teka reigned supreme, and hopes are high it will be another Kiwi to dominate on home ground. Andrew Jamison (Taupo) is joined by Northland’s Amanda Wilson – the youngest of the famed Wilson Sisters who have campaigned the globe saving wild horses, to take on Australians Donal Hancock and Georgia Kolovos for the individual crown.
The inaugural New Zealand Warmblood Association supported sport horse auction has attracted 13 superbly-bred horses, ranging in age from yearlings and up and has piqued the interest of offshore buyers as well as others from both sides of the Tasman.
One of the foundation cornerstones of EQUITANA Auckland is education, and this year there are 40 of some of the best in the world sharing their knowledge about various disciplines, horse health, showing tips, how to get the best from your gear, nutrition for both horse and rider, horsemanship, veterinary advice and so much more. Each of the four days is filled with 25 sessions across the arenas.
EQUITANA Auckland chief executive Rod Lockwood says it is an honour to play host to some of the world’s greatest equestrian stars. A key focus of the event this year is youth, and EQUITANA has aligned with the New Zealand Pony Club Association as its community partner. Every Pony Club member in New Zealand has been granted free admission on Sunday (November 24) with the chance to rub shoulders and chat with NZPCA patron Sir Mark Todd.
“Our partnership allows us to showcase the amazing talent and passion New Zealand’s young riders have for both their horses and their sport.”
There are other competitions too, in dressage, jumping, express eventing, showing, horsemanship, show hunter, equitation, carriage driving and more, with horses from all manner of breeds and sizes on display.
Rod says it is thanks to the ongoing support from Auckland Tourism, Events and Economic Development (ATEED), that EQUITANA is returning to New Zealand and once again. Around 10,000 people are expected through the gates to make the most of all things equestrian in one place. “We are really looking forward to EQUITANA Auckland,” says Rod. “Our team, including so many wonderful volunteers, really do their utmost to make sure each and every visitor enjoys their experience here.”
EQUITANA is an international brand held in Australia and Europe, including biennially in Melbourne.