ALMOST 350 riders are set to compete in an international event that got under way yesterday afternoon.
The Tamworth International Eventing CCI will continue this weekend at AELEC.
CCI stands for Concours Complet International and the event, which is run under international rules, is a qualifier for the Tokyo 2020 Olympics.
Entry for spectators is free.
Eventing comprises dressage, cross-country and show jumping.
Competitors are from NSW and Queensland, but are competing for Australia, Great Britain, New Zealand and even Pakistan.
Tamworth International Eventing president Sharmayne Spencer said numbers were down a bit due to the drought.
"In the high grade it has knocked off a little bit, and in the middle section ... our farmers and local riders," she said.
"It's definitely a little bit less, but I still think that it's going along quite well compared to other events in NSW."
Mrs Spencer rebuffed the idea numbers could also be down due to the spectre of Hendra virus, confirmed as far south as the Hunter Valley for the first time in June.
"They are all well-cared-for horses [and] they've all had health checks before they arrive here, but there is a vet downstairs just in case, checking that they are healthy and IDed correctly."
AELEC manager Mike Rowland said most of the 200-odd campsites were booked and "all possible areas of the venue are being well-utilised".
"That's one of the good things with this particular event: they use the indoor arena, each of the outdoor arenas, and the big open paddock with the cross-country on the Sunday."
The latter area was in great shape despite the dry, Mr Rowland said.
"With a few more showers of rain it would be spectacular, but given the current situation, the course itself looks fantastic."