COUNTDOWN clocks are ticking as competitors and spectators put in the final preparations ahead of the Horse of the Year Show, held at the National Exhibition Centre, next month.

The five-day event, which takes place from Wednesday, October 4, through to Sunday, October 8, is a highlight on any equestrian person's calendar and includes a varied timetable for those interested in all aspects of showing, from elite showjumpers to lead rein and first ridden ponies, Mountain and Moorland ponies to show hunters and cobs.

There will be a special guest appearance from HRH Princess Anne on the Thursday evening to present the prizes to the M and M ridden champion

As well as a large array of ridden, working hunter and in-hand finals, of which many horses and ponies have qualified for throughout the year up and down the country, the HOYS retail village has a large selection of more than 250 tradestands for all your equine needs.

There is an action packed timetable of events starting at 7am each day across two arenas, and in between classes there will be two never seen before displays – 'The Story of the Caspian Horse', as well as 'LIMITLESS' from Atkinson Action Horses – which demonstrate the complexity and adaptability of the horse.

New for this year is the HOYS live zone, located in the retail village, which provides visitors with the chance to interact with a line-up of guest speakers, celebrity rider signings and talks from leading industry experts.

Following the popular introduction of the Junior Mountain and Moorland Small Breed Pony of the Year in 2016, the Junior Mountain and Moorland Large Breed Pony of the Year championship is set to run this year, which aims to recognise and promote junior riders competing on the larger native breeds.

Another hot competition for the younger riders is the pony club mounted games final.

For tickets or more information, visit www.hoys.co.uk or call 02476 858 205.

n The Scottish Farmer will be giving away two pairs of tickets for the final day of the show, Sunday. Keep posted for more details!