Harris was a very experienced international endurance competitor, having ridden in four World and seven Continental Championships between 1988 and 1996. With his homebred chestnut Arabian gelding Harmere Turfan, he finished second in the coveted Tom Quilty Gold Cup in Australia. He rode for New Zealand at the World Equestrian Games in Aachen in 2006.
In announcing Harris's death, Kerry Ridgeway said that "Howard went through life like a comet, always blazing and always casting a bright light and a big presence. He was one of the people instrumental in developing endurance at the FEI level in the Southern hemisphere.
"Howard's approaches to getting things done were not infrequently vexing to those who worked with him. He had little patience for impediments to accomplishing tasks - whether it was writing a constitution, participating as a member of the FEI endurance committee or seeing that horses were properly trained and conditioned, not to mention in his riding."
Howard Harris is survived by his wife, Lisa, and his two sons, Lachlan 10 and Elliot 7.
Harris abandoned his first love of offshore yacht racing soon after he was introduced to endurance riding in 1978. From then he went on to forge an impressive international career.
The enterprising Harris lived most of his adult life offshore, spending much of his working career as a successful businessman in South East Asia, Europe and the US before settling in Australia but he always said he was "as Kiwi as they get."
At the time of his selection for the New Zealand team to the 2006 World Equestrian Games, he said: "I've been in Australia so long many of them didn't realise I'm actually a New Zealander."
"I did get invited to ride for them but I've ridden for New Zealand for so long in international competition that to change camps is the last thing you would find me capable of doing morally. It's never been part of the equation."