The return of Horton was one of four changes made by coach Greg Cooper yesterday.
The other three were well sign-posted, with Hale T-Pole switching sides of the scrum, Craig Newby returning from a neck injury to the open-side flank, and Cameron MacIntyre replacing the injured Nick Evans at first five-eighths.
Clarke Dermody has kept his place at loosehead prop, with Carl Hoeft sitting on the bench in place of Chris King.
Neil Brew, replaced by Horton, is in the reserves, where Grant Webb finally gets a chance to take the field as he is preferred to Colin Bourke.
Horton, 21, played six games for the Highlanders last season - three starts at fullback and three off the bench - scoring a try against the Blues at Eden Park.
He has some experience at wing for Otago and, while his preferred position is clearly fullback, the extra pace and ability to beat the defender he offers are invaluable.
With Evans out for possibly another three weeks, the Highlanders need another back who can create something out of nothing.
Danny Lee has been named at halfback but is not a certainty to start, Highlanders manager Greg O'Brien said.
"Danny had a run today but he's still bothered a bit by a back niggle.
"He's been named to play but we'll just keep an eye on him over the next couple of days and make sure he's fully fit."
If Lee was ruled out, Jimmy Cowan would line up behind the scrum and Toby Morland, flown to South Africa as halfback cover, would be named on the bench.
Highlanders: Ben Blair, Glen Horton, Anthony Tuitavake, Seilala Mapusua, Matt Saunders, Cameron McIntyre, Danny Lee, Paul Miller, Craig Newby, Hale T-Pole, James Ryan, Ton Donnelly, Carl Hayman, Anton Oliver (captain), Clarke Dermody. Reserves: Mahonri Schwalger, Carl Hoeft, Filipo Levi, Grant Webb, Jimmy Cowan, Jason Shoemark, Neil Brew.