27th February, 2015.

Scunthorpe based retailer D & M Mason Saddlery won the ETN hamper of £1,000s worth of products for their store at BETA International.

All buyers who called at the ETN stand were invited to enter a prize draw with the North Lincolnshire business being first out of the hat.

All prizes were donated by ETN advertisers who were also exhibiting at BETA International 2015. “Thank you to everyone who contributed – and congratulations to the winner,” said Nicki Lewis of ETN.

As part of the prize, D & M Mason Saddlery will be profiled in ETN soon.


27th February, 2015.

BETA International 2015 was the industry hotspot for buyers and suppliers from around the world who visited the NEC, Birmingham, for this ultimate trade buying experience from 22 to 24 February.

Almost 300 exhibitors – one in four from overseas – showcased their finest brands and unveiled latest products in front of an audience of 4,599 retailers (including 701 re-entries on separate days), from small independent stores to large multi-store shopping chains.*

Neue Schule continued its backing of BETA International by signing up to return as main sponsor in 2016 for the third time. The company’s CEO, Sarfraz Mian, said: “We are thrilled to support the show’s impressive position as the leading event in the international trade fair calendar.”

Dragons’ Den TV star Deborah Meaden proved a real hit in The Charles Owen Learning Centre @ The Horse Demonstration & Seminar Arena, where she was interviewed about her “Common Sense Rules for Business” and role as the British Equestrian Federation’s Hoof ambassador, and took part in a Q&A with the audience.

“I thoroughly enjoyed my visit to BETA International,” said Deborah. “It was wonderful to see so many new products being launched on to the market and a great opportunity to chat with members of the equestrian industry. I was also able to share my passion for horse riding and encourage people to take it up through the Hoof initiative.”

Live-action displays drew in large crowds keen to see products out of their packaging and up close and personal. Sessions included Roy Burek, managing director of Charles Owen, which sponsored The Charles Owen Learning Centre, hosting a discussion on the changes to riding hat safety standard EN 1384 and exploring the way that wearing shoulder protection can help to reduce rider injury.

BETA International’s chosen charity, World Horse Welfare, brought along some of its rescued and rehabilitated horses and ponies to meet visitors and exhibitors, and to highlight the work being done by the charity in collaboration with members of the equestrian industry.

Heather Hyde, founder of Neue Schule, main sponsor of BETA International, hosted a presentation entitled “From Doctors to Turtles: 100 Years Through the Dark Ages of Bitting”.

Visiting SQPs (suitably qualified persons) were able to secure ten CPD points in an AMTRA-accredited seminar, “Reds, Tapes & Pins”, hosted by veterinary management consultant Jim Wishart. The seminar ran twice during the trade fair.

The Fashion Show was sponsored by Ekkia’s flagship brand, Equi-Thème, for a second consecutive year, providing the perfect showcase for autumn/winter and spring/summer collections. With a backdrop of catchy tunes and cleverly choreographed routines, some of the most famous and celebrated brands took to the runway to reveal what was in and hot for the months ahead. Scenes featured Equi-Thème, Tredstep Ireland, Airowear, Covalliero, Toggi, Champion, Horseware Ireland, Derriere Equestrian, Caldene and Harry Hall.

Excellence is always celebrated at BETA International and this year did not disappoint. The Innovation Awards, sponsored by the show’s official media partner, Equestrian Trade News (ETN), attracted a record number of entries across 10 categories. All exhibitors are invited to take part with products introduced to the market not more than the 12 months preceding the show.

This year’s judging panel was made up of Alex Colquhoun, chairman of British Eventing’s young rider selection committee, Sara Blackshaw, equine category manager for Countrywide Farmers, Sophie Webster, show rider and producer, and John Sommerville, a partner in North Yorkshire veterinary practice Rae Bean & Partners.

The winners, presented with their trophies by ETN editor Liz Benwell and advertising sales manager Nicki Lewis, were: Ariat Europe (Country Fashion & Footwear), The Herbal Horse + Pet (Feed & Supplements), Solar Technology International (General), Battles (Horsecare Equipment & (Horse) Clothing), Animology/Pet Rebellion (Pet Products), Kastel Denmark (Rider Clothing), Lorenzini Titanium (Rider Footwear & Chaps), Neue Schule (Saddlery & Tack), USG (Safety & Security) and Deerhunter (Technical Outdoor Clothing & Footwear).

High-quality exhibition stands are a hallmark of BETA International and every one is automatically entered into the show’s Best Stand Awards, with large (32 sq m and over) and small (under 32 sq m) categories. The competition, sponsored by The Wine & Hamper Company, is designed to reward companies going that extra mile to create an attractive and highly effective commercial space and welcoming environment.

Judging was carried out by Lara Downes, of the trade fair’s chosen charity, World Horse Welfare, and Barrie Mortlock, of Ingatestone Saddlery. Winner of the Best Large Stand award was Toggi/Champion, with the Best Small Stand title going to Stubbs England.

Lucy Stephens, of Jet Set Saddlery, and Gail Johnson, of Horse Bit Hire, were crowned Neue Schule Bitting Advisers of the Year in a national competition introduced for the first time last year by the company. The two winners were presented with their trophies and prizes by Deborah Meaden on the Neue Schule stand.

Deborah also played a key role in the show’s special ceremony to celebrate the 20th anniversary of the first BETA International trade fair at the NEC, cutting a magnificent cake that was later served with glasses of bubbly to all those watching the awards presentations.

The Society of Master Saddlers ran its annual competitions at BETA International to promote the work of talented apprentice and trainee saddlers. Craftsmanship and attention to detail were key elements over the three days of the show, which saw the creation of a Pelham rounding, a lead rein with butterfly attachment and an Irish martingale.

The winners were selected by a panel of judges from the Society of Master Saddlers and presented with cash prizes supplied by the Saddlers’ Company. They were Tanya Baldwin, of the King’s Troop RHA, and Capel Manor College students Corrin King and Charlotte Fuller.

BETA International organiser Claire Thomas reported plenty of positive feedback from both exhibitors and visitors. “This year’s trade fair has been an extremely successful experience for all companies involved,” she said. “We opened our doors with every square metre of commercial space sold and a vibrant range of special features and industry awards on offer.

“We are thrilled to hear that one of our first-time exhibitors in particular has managed to secure a deal with a large wholesaler for sole distributorship of its products. Many others left the show with their order books full – that’s what BETA International is all about and why it remains the world’s No 1 trade exhibition for equestrian, country clothing, outdoor and pet products.

“We would like to thank the UK and international trade for supporting the show – and all our sponsors, Neue Schule, Charles Owen, Hy, Ekkia, Equestrian Trade News, HorseQuest, Shires Equestrian, Toggi, TopSpec and The Wine & Hamper Company.”

BETA International 2016 will take place at the NEC, Birmingham, from 24 to 26 January. For information about exhibiting at the show, contact James Palmer, telephone +44 (0)1937 582111 or email

*The attendance has yet to be audited by ABC.


26th February, 2015.

The 2015 BETA Business Awards lived up their reputation as the high point of the equestrian trade calendar as members gathered to recognise and celebrate those who had made outstanding contributions to the industry. These highly prized trophies were presented to companies and individuals during BETA’s glittering annual Gala Dinner, at the National Motorcycle Museum, near Birmingham, on Sunday 22 February.

Guests arrived dressed to the nines and enjoyed a drinks reception before taking their seats for dinner. After the meal and awards presentations, guests got down on the dance floor or enjoyed some interactive fun in a Gold Cup Challenge racing game.

The event’s raffle raised a record £1,918 for Riding for the Disabled. Prizes included a leisure spa break voucher worth £240 from Whittlebury Hall, a set of glasses from Burridge Trophies, a hamper of goodies from Blacks Solicitors and champagne from BETA.

“Our congratulations go to all the winners and everyone who was nominated for an award,” said BETA executive director Claire Williams. “We were overwhelmed by the sheer number of nominations we received and the judges, as usual, had a tough task in selecting the final winners. The BETA Business Awards continue to grow year on year and have evolved to reflect today’s business environment with the inclusion of a social media award for the first time.”

The winners of the 2015 BETA Business Awards are...

Winner: TopSpec Equine, Thirsk, North Yorkshire
Runner-up: Allen & Page, Thetford, Norfolk
With an increasing number of feeds and supplements on the market, giving the trade and consumers more choice than ever, BETA wished to highlight the importance of reliable and accessible nutritional advice.

Nominations were invited from retailers and consumers, and the final judging was based on these and mystery callers posing questions designed to challenge each helpline.

This is the eighth time that TopSpec has won the award and the judges described the service offered by the company as “outstanding once again!”

Winner: Shane Broughal, of Horslyx, Casco, Tredstep, Zilco, Schockemöhle Sports and Prestige Italia
This award, presented by Equine Careers, recognises excellence in product knowledge and service to retail customers. Nominations received from retailers were followed by interviews with the finalists.

Nominators for this agent frequently used the words helpful, patient, efficient, hard-working and professional. A judge was particularly impressed when Shane told him that the most important part of his job was to serve his customers well, be honest and have products that he really believes in – key elements in the agent’s role, which is all about building and maintaining relationships.

Winner: Rachel Ealey, Tower Farm Saddlers, Rugby
Runner-up: Samantha Francis, Countrywide Farmers, Ashbourne, Derbyshire
This award is given to the retail employee showing initiative, excellence in customer service, good product knowledge and a commitment to retailing.

Rachel has worked for Tower Farm Saddlers for 13 years and, according to her employer, is the sort of assistant we would all like to be served by but rarely get.

A judge concluded: “She was a delight to talk to and balanced sound product knowledge with real enthusiasm for the ranges she sold.”

Winner: The Hickstead Derby meeting
Runner-up: Horse of the Year Show
This award acknowledges the event (at which tradestands are present) that best works with its exhibitors and takes their requirements and views fully into consideration.

Judges, visitors and stand holders agreed that the Hickstead Derby, which has been running for 53 years and attracts 40,000 visitors each time, is iconic and held at a spectacular venue. “The organising team are spot on – nothing is ever too much trouble,” they concluded.

Winner: Battle, Hayward & Bower, Lincoln
Judged by the retail trade, this award goes to a manufacturer, distributor or wholesaler that offers the best delivery, customer service, product knowledge and awareness of retailer requirements.

Nominators applauded the company’s efficient ordering and delivery services, along with consistently good customer service.

The judges added: “Battles impressed us with its attention to detail and astute use of customer research.”

This award is divided into four categories – large, medium, small and mail order/Internet retailers. It is presented to those retailers that offer outstanding customer service. Final judging took suppliers’ votes into account, as well as including visits by mystery shoppers.

Large Retailer
Winner: Wadswick Country Store, Corsham, Wiltshire
Runner-up: Aivly Country Store, Ringwood, Hampshire
A nominator for Wadswick Country Store said: “They have such friendly and helpful staff.”

A judge added: “Once again, they out-performed the rest in all areas. They have a great grasp of product knowledge, staff are fantastically friendly and professional, and there is a beautiful store environment.”

Medium Retailer
Winner: Redpost Equestrian, Totnes, Devon
Runner-up: Colne Saddlery, Cheltenham, Gloucestershire
Nominators for Redpost Equestrian said that customer service is impeccable.

Judges added: “Staff were always helpful, whether on the phone or in the store. They offered excellent service, with comprehensive product knowledge”.

Small Retailer
Winner: Tower Farm Saddlers, Earls Barton, Northamptonshire
Runner-up: Equicraft of Backwell, Bristol
A Tower Farm Saddlers nominator said: “The store is like an Aladdin’s Cave and the staff are always friendly and reliable.”

Judges added: “This year, the shop really did excel.”

Mail Order/Internet Retailer
Winner: Supplement Solutions
Runner-up: VioVet
A nominator for Supplement Solutions said: “They are amazing – nothing is too much trouble.”

Judges added: “The person answering my telephone enquiry had a great knack of gauging my knowledge level and responding accordingly. I was left feeling inspired to buy. Yet again, a high standard was shown across the business.”

This award acknowledges sponsored riders who make the greatest contribution to the trade and work hard for their sponsors. This year, for the first time, the award has been divided into two sections – amateur and professional. An independent panel of judges selected this year’s winners.

Winner – Amateur Rider: Mike Hodgson
Nominator Abbey England said: “We started sponsoring this young carriage driver in 2011. Two years later, he became reserve champion with his team of Shetland ponies. In 2014, he took bronze at the FEI Youth Championships and was named Young Driver of the Year by British Carriage Driving. He provides us with countless training features, participates in photo shoots and his next project is a series of ‘how to’ videos.”

Winner – Professional Rider: Roberta Sheffield
Nominated by: Bliss of London, Showerking, Cyclo-ssage, Safemix Equestrian Bedding and Mark Westaway & Son. Judges were impressed with the wide support from all her sponsors and the professional and enthusiastic way in which she approached each sponsorship, displaying in-depth knowledge of their products and a willingness to promote them at every opportunity.

Winner: Bliss of London
This award recognises a company that has generated a substantial and sustained increase in export activity over a period of at least three years.

The judges felt that Bliss of London showed clear structure to its strategy and impressive results.

Winner: Weatherbeeta
Judges said that the company displayed strong creative content, a good understanding of its customers and a good mixture of technical product and fun interactive posts. “Weatherbeeta also supports the trade well with easy-to-share content and information,” they added.

Winner: Ken Lyndon-Dykes
Ken received the Lifetime Achievement Award for the great contribution he has made to the equestrian industry for many years, promoting the importance of saddle fitting and playing an influential role in both BETA and the SMS.

Horses have been a huge part of Ken’s life – he even gave up a place at Oxford to run a trekking centre in Wales. He became a fully-fledged member of the equestrian trade some years later quite by accident after the plane he was flying in the 1972 British Air Race crashed following a bird strike and he woke up in hospital and was told that he would probably be confined to a wheelchair for the rest of his days.

Up to this point, Ken had been working in the publishing industry as a high-earning executive. He now found himself unemployed and seemingly unemployable. But, rather than be defeated, he rallied and came up with the idea of selling saddles by mail order.

In 1973, Ken opened his first equestrian retail outlet, which he built into a chain of 56 shops and “shops within shops”. This business was eventually sold in 1999 to the board of directors.

He began producing saddles in Walsall in 1974 and had such illustrious clients as King Hussein and Queen Noor of Jordan, Richard Meade, Lucinda Green and many other Olympic and world-class riders.

Ken’s resolute spirit was illustrated perfectly by his passion for the saddlery industry and the determination he had to walk again after his accident. He developed his own rehabilitation programme and, before long, he was eventing at national and international level.

Throughout his early work in the industry, Ken became aware of the deficiencies in saddle fitting, where consideration was given to the comfort of the rider – but little or none to the welfare of the horse.

This concern sparked a lifetime’s interest in this vital service and he has lectured and trained on the subject all over the world. He has played an influential role in the SMS and helped to develop its saddle-fitting qualifications and courses. He has also written many books and magazine features on the subject.

A successful businessman who has continued to give back to the industry throughout his career, Ken was a BETA Council member from the early days and it is thanks to his support in the 1980s that BETA continued as an independent organisation representing the whole equestrian trade. He is still an active member of the trade association today and still sits on BETA’s Trade Fair Committee.


26th February, 2015.

Cutting edge design and inspiring ideas were honoured in BETA International’s 2015 Innovation Awards. Winners were presented with these industry accolades during this year’s trade fair, at the NEC, Birmingham, on Monday (23 February).

Sponsored by Equestrian Trade News, the show’s media partner, the highly prized awards were open to all exhibitors with products that had not been launched on the market more than 12 months before the 2015 trade fair. This year attracted a record 99 entries, giving the judging panel a challenging task in finding winners in each of the 10 categories. The judges were Sara Blackshaw, equine category manager of Countrywide Farmers, Alex Colquhoun, chairman of British Eventing’s Young Rider Selection Committee, John Sommerville, a partner in the North Yorkshire veterinary practice Rae Bean & Son, and Sophie Webster, a show rider and producer.

“The awards attracted such a vast number of entries this year that our judges had an exceptionally tough task in selecting the winners,” said BETA International organiser Claire Thomas. “There were some cracking products across the board and, after consideration, those felt to be truly innovative soon became apparent. We would like to thank our judging panel for all its hard work and congratulate the companies that have been successful in securing an award.

“They can be justifiably proud of their achievement and should make the most of being able to use the Innovation Awards winner’s logo in their marketing for the next 12 months.”

The 2015 Innovation Awards winners were…

Ariat Europe
Product: Ariat Country Tall Boot Collection
This collection for men and women features new ATS Pro technology to ensure maximum stability with enhanced flexibility, the new Poron XRD smart rebound heel pad to provide extreme impact and high-traction Duratread outsoles. The boots are perfect to wear for everything from long country walks to walking round outdoor events.
Judges’ comments: These high-end boots, with many innovative features, are certainly worth the money. The quality and style are excellent, with nice seams and detail on the leather. “A lovely, lovely little boot,” said one judge.

Highly commended
Company: Grubs Boots
Product: Rainline
Aimed at the general country, equestrian and agricultural market, these boots reinvent the welly, combining Grub’s unique Superdri technology with lightweight, easy-clean rubber. They bring to the wellington market a new level of fit, comfort, grip and warmth as a result of the Insufoam stretch bellows on the shaft, Nitrocell, cushioned and insulated footbed and Trax Duraprene rubber sole.
Judges’ comments: Whereas most wellies don’t’ have enough rubber, these do. They use three different technologies and are available at a very nice price. The boots have good finishing, a wide range of sizes, are not too heavy to wear and we like the elastic at the back – ideal for wider legs.

Company: The Herbal Horse + Pet
Product: Ultimate Mix
Probiotics, multivitamins and joint supplements are combined in one product. It is cost-effective and ideal as a general-purpose, complete supplement for horses.
Judges’ comments: This supplement is very appealing and smartly packaged, clearly aimed at the equestrian market. The principle behind the product is very good.

Highly commended
Company: TopSpec Equine
Product: TopSpec UlsaKind
These cubes represent a breakthrough in the design of products to help horses prone to or suffering from ulcers. Ingredients include specific forms of beta glucans, pectin, a long-acting marine-derived antacid, omega-3 fatty acids, soya oil, short-term antacids and highly digestible fibre, all within an ultra-low-starch formulation.
Judges’ comments: Extensive research has gone into this well-produced product, which is nicely priced and in appealing packaging with labelling clearly listing the ingredients.

Company: Solar Technology International
Product: Solar Mate Solar Hub
This is the first easy-to-install solar lighting and power system designed for stables and agricultural buildings, giving good working light and allowing you to charge your phone in remote locations.
Judges’ comments: The low-cost product provides good lighting in a small equine area and is particularly useful if you don’t have electricity. We were also impressed by the 10-year warranty. It should have good market appeal.

Highly commended
Company: Forelock Books
Product: Forelock books
These modern horse and pony stories are aimed at today’s young riders, pony lovers of all ages, happy hackers and non-riders. Launched in May 2014, the books are available through equestrian retailers and pony clubs, as well as at horse events.
Judges’ comments: The books hit their market of young equestrians and are reasonably priced and beautifully produced.

Company: Battles
Product: Sküp
This is the only food scoop on the market with teeth – designed to loosen compacted feed and making feeding your horse a quicker and easier process. It is self-righting and can stand up on its own while the handle can be held in several different ways and has been ergonomically designed to ensure it does not spin in the hand.
Judges’ comments: This is a truly innovative product at a very affordable price. We love the fact that it stands up on its own and can be held in different ways. The clearly visible measurement marks are also very useful.

Highly commended
Company: Shires Equestrian Products
Product: Equi Cool Down
These instant-cooling body, leg and neck wraps for both humans and equines do not require refrigeration, electricity or gel. When soaked in water, they will reduce body temperature. The cooling effect can last for hours.
Judges’ comments: What an amazing innovation! It’s a really good concept that’s washable and reusable, and particularly useful in summer. This is a first in the equestrian market.

Company: Animology/Pet Rebellion
Product: Woof food bowl
Two removable stainless-steel, dishwasher-friendly bowls sit in a shaped, high-gloss floor mount with rubber-grip feet in red, black and white colour options.
Judges’ comments: The design is innovative and attractive, and the product is well-made, cleanable and non-slip.

Company: Kastel Denmark
Product: Charlotte Collection shirt
This quarter-zip riding shirt is breathable and made in a UV-protective fabric with mesh sleeve panels to provide both a comfortable riding experience and fashion flair.
Judges’ comments: What makes this clever is the mesh sleeves and breathable strips on the arms. It is also really comfortable and of high quality, with good packaging and labelling, and suitable for riders across the board.

Highly commended
Company: EquiSports Performance/EquiSox/JockeySox
Product: Performance Posture Trainer
The benefit of this product is that it will help the user to obtain and maintain a more correct, balanced and strengthened posture with a neutral spine alignment.
Judges’ comments: This is a very good product that is now being brought to the equestrian market. It is nicely padded with good stitching, making it very comfortable to wear. Thought has clearly gone into the principle and design.

Company: Lorenzini Titanium
Product: Spurs
Made in Italy, these spurs combine the benefits of pure titanium with the elegance of European craftsmanship. They are lightweight and antibacterial, feature rubber covering for a better grip and are available in four styles.
Judges’ comments: The spurs are made completely from titanium in a lovely Italian design with very good packaging. The company has further developed the design of spurs, bringing to the market something that is different.

Highly commended
Company: Ariat Europe
Product: Ariat Monaco stretch tall boots
This luxurious boot features an innovative stretch-leather construction, with elasticated mesh lining for a close fit. It is made from premium French calf leathers and features Ariat’s sterling logo plaque.
Judges’ comments: This is a well-made, very attractive boot, ergonomically designed and pleasing on the eye. It is a high-end product based on a European boot but not too tall.

Company: Neue Schule
Product: Neue Schule Turtle Top bit
This is an innovative bit that has been designed for the overactive and busy mouth. The horse is prevented from lifting the side arms – cannons – through the joint design, ensuring the bit comes into the desired optimum alignment and giving greater stability.
Judges’ comments: This well-crafted bit is fabulous! The well-researched innovation is in the alignment of the bit’s mouthpiece. Most bits are designed to sit on the horse’s mouth, whereas this wonderfully designed product means that when pressure is put on the mouth it sits perfectly.

Highly commended
Company: Horseware Ireland
Product: Rambo StirrUP
This stirrup uses a drop-step mechanism, giving the rider an additional 6in for an easy leg-up into the saddle. The frame is made from high-quality, die-cast alloy, with a foot rest of shock-absorbent nylon plastic.
Judges’ comments: This stirrup’s clever mechanism is what makes it innovative, making it easier for riders to mount their horses. It is very well priced and nicely packaged.

Company: USG
Product: USG SOS
This tag with an individual ID code attaches to USG body protectors and holds all the vital information needed in the event of an emergency – whatever you choose to store, from contacts to medical details.
Judges’ comments: This is a really sensible product that can help riders in all emergencies. We like the quantity of detail about riders and their horses that can be stored. It is an idea that has finally surfaced in the equestrian market.

Highly commended
Company: Hack-Cam (
Product: Hack-Cam safety products
This reflective and hi-viz tail sleeve and tabard promotes safety not only through a warning – “Smile You're on Camera" or "Please Pass Wide & Slow" – but also by recording with a small attachable camera.
Judges’ comments: The use of an attached camera to a tabard is a breakthrough in the equestrian market, although it has appeared elsewhere. It is useful if you are hurt in a collision with a car and can use it to give evidence in the event of a claim.

Company: Deerhunter
Product: Muflon
Aimed at the country outdoor pursuits market, this jacket is breathable and waterproof, and has hand warmers, a detachable hood and an array of pockets inside and out. There are trousers to match.
Judges’ comments: This reasonably priced jacket is smart and well-fitting, and its brown trim gives a hint of European design. The five-year warranty is impressive.

Highly commended
Company: Alan Paine Country Collection
Product: Durham lightweight gents’ jacket
This gents’ technical jacket, suitable for .all-year-round wear, is made of extremely lightweight but robust cotton Cordura. It is very durable and reliable in the toughest conditions.
Judges’ comments: This is incredibly lightweight compared with similar jackets. We like the pleating on the arms and the abundance of pockets, and the competitive pricing.

BETA International 2016 takes place on 24 – 26 January at the NEC, Birmingham.


26th February, 2015.

Four exhibition stands at BETA International 2015 proved themselves worthy winners in the show’s prestigious Best Stand Awards – an annual competition designed to reward companies that have gone the extra mile to create a polished and professional environment from which to promote product and conduct sales.

Every exhibitor at the world’s leading trade fair for the equestrian, country clothing, outdoor and pet products markets was automatically entered into the competition, sponsored by The Wine & Hamper Company, and placed in the relevant category – Best Large Stand (32 sq m and over) or Best Small Stand (under 32 sq m). A winner and highly commended were named in each category by judges Lara Downes, of the show’s chosen charity, World Horse Welfare, and Barrie Mortlock, of Ingatestone Saddlery. This year, the trophies went to…

Winner: Toggi/Champion (Stand F6.1)
Judges’ comments: This bright, attractive stand was equally enticing from the outside with smart external displays. Clear branding meant that we knew instantly which company the stand belonged to. It was clean and tidy with extremely busy staff who greeted us when we approached and made themselves available to book appointments should we wish to.

Highly commended: Sherwood Forest (Stand Q3.1)
Judges’ comments: An extremely eye-catching stand with fantastic displays of merchandise including a bold table centre-piece that created a great focus point for visitors to the stand. Members of staff were instantly identifiable and provided a warm welcome – it was refreshing to see that nobody was sat around engrossed with their mobile phones.

Winner: Stubbs England (StandK4.2)
Judges’ comments: A stand that made the very best out of a small space. It was bright, creative, tidy and welcoming. Staff were clearly branded and jumped to their feet when we approached. They were polite and displayed great product knowledge when asked about their ranges. Again, it was heartening to see that no one was sat down playing with mobiles – they were here to engage with visitors and did an admirable job.

Highly commended: Breyer Model Horses (Stand L3.1)
Judges’ comments: A stand that was extremely pleasing to the eye and cleverly designed and merchandised to echo the brand’s beautiful product ranges. White picket fences gave a distinctly country feel and products were placed smartly on parade. Staff were extremely helpful and keen to engage with customers – and genuinely interested in hearing what their customers had to say.

“High-quality exhibition stands are a hallmark of the trade fair and deserve to be recognised in this way,” said BETA International organiser Claire Thomas. “A great deal of time and effort is put into making sure that the stands not only look good, but must also be merchandised effectively, employ attentive and knowledgeable staff, and provide a welcoming commercial space for conducting business. These four companies have done just that. Our congratulations go to each one of them.”


26th February, 2015.

Dragons’ Den TV star Deborah Meaden has revealed the secret behind keeping fit for her Strictly Come Dancing stint two years ago – horse riding.

“My dance partner told me at the beginning that my legs would kill me after the first week because I was doing ten hours’ training a day,” she told an audience at the BETA International trade fair this week. “But my legs didn’t hurt once because I ride regularly.

“I had no idea what riding was doing for my wellbeing and that’s something I feel quite passionate about. It’s really helped me in a busy life being able to keep my feet on the ground, feel fitter and be more toned and more active. That’s why I get so passionate about it.”

The entrepreneur said that her parents had not been able to afford to buy a horse when she was a child. “So I used to ride ponies on Minehead seafront. In return for walking up and down with them, I was allowed to ride them back to the stable at night. My childhood dream was to be a showjumper.”

Deborah, an ambassador for the British Equestrian Federation’s Hoof project, which aims to get more people riding, owns six horses – four of them retired ex-racehorses – and rides twice a day, four days a week. “I love riding and the challenges that horses bring,” she said. “There’s something very special about being around them.”

Her audience also received tips on launching and running a successful business. “For me, it’s about constantly spotting the opportunity, the ability to take an element of risk, and there’s a bit of bravery in there, a bit of stupidity and a bit of blind faith,” she said. “I don’t gamble, but I do take calculated risks.

“With any new business, the first thing I say is to write on an A4 sheet of paper our ideal customer, where they live, what they read, the way they vote, what they drink, which pub or restaurant do they go to. I want a picture of them. Are they open to being sold to?

“Sometimes I think people come out of Dragons’ Den thinking it’s a shortcut – job done. But that’s just the start. The truth is, this is hard work. It’s not that complicated – it is hard slog. I can honestly say I love it for that. If it was that easy, I wouldn’t get the pleasure out of it. If you’re looking for a shortcut, don’t go into business. If you’re prepared to sing, go on The X Factor.”

Deborah also revealed that the Dragons’ rivalry in the Den stays in the Den. “We are all competitive, we are in there trying to win bids,” she said. “We are not a pack – we are all individual people trying to do deals.

“We are also grown-ups. We film in Manchester, so we all stay in a hotel and, when we come out of the Den, we all have dinner together. What goes on tour stays on tour. We are all very good friends.”

BETA International 2016, the world’s leading trade fair for the equestrian, country clothing, outdoor and pet product markets, takes place at the NEC, Birmingham, on 24 - 26 February.

Find out more about Deborah Meaden’s visit to BETA International, plus a full report and pictures in the March issue of ETN.


24th February, 2015.

Companies wishing to exhibit at BETA International 2016 can make significant savings with the show’s early commitment scheme. It delivers a 2.5% discount on stand prices.

To qualify, stand space should be booked by 27 March and deposits paid by 11 September. Full payment should then be made by 6 November. Qualifying exhibitors will receive their discount in the form of a rebate payment made during March 2016.

BETA International 2016 takes place at the NEC, Birmingham, on Sunday to Tuesday, 24 – 26 January. Contact James Palmer, tel +44 (0)1937 582111, email or visit


20th February, 2015.

Next year’s BETA International moves to the earlier date of 24 – 26 January.

The move has been prompted by a change in seasonal buying habits, say the organisers.

The 2016 trade fair will remain in its existing halls at the NEC Birmingham and continue to run over a Sunday, Monday and Tuesday.

“Many of our exhibitors and visitors have expressed a preference for an earlier show following a change in buying patterns dictated by today’s markets,” said BETA International organiser Claire Thomas.

“The move also allows us to secure a more prominent position in the global trade show calendar.”

BETA International has traditionally been held in February.

The 2015 show runs from this Sunday (22 February) until Tuesday (24 February). For details visit


20th February, 2015.

Former Horse & Hound editor Lucy Higginson has joined Matchmakers International.

She is working part time with the Harry Hall brand development team.

“Harry Hall is a brand I grew up with,” Lucy told ETN. “Our aim is to re-establish it with regular horse owners to maximize their enjoyment safely and stylishly.”

Lucy is recruiting equestrian professionals to represent the brand and organising Harry Hall consumer events including visits to well-known yards.

“We want to create a community of ambassadors,” said Lucy who left Horse & Hound after 12 years last summer.

Describing her own equestrian wardrobe as “traditional”, she added that Matchmakers International has “some terrific new products in the pipeline.”

Liz Hopper, the company’s commercial director, said Lucy was “brilliantly placed to work with us as we continue to promote the Harry Hall brand.”

Lucy joins the Matchmakers International team on its stand at BETA International next Monday, 23 February.


19th February, 2015.

An enterprising BETA International exhibitor has hired a roadside hording in the middle of Birmingham to advertise his company’s presence at the trade fair.

Nick Stone has invested in the digital display to promote Utopia Saddlemakers’ first appearance at the trade fair which starts on Sunday.

“It’s there from now until Tuesday evening in a prime location - Holloway Circus, Birmingham, B1 1UB,” Nick told ETN.

“We’re a modern, forward thinking company and wanted to do something special for our first year at BETA International.”

Admission to BETA International at the NEC, Birmingham (22 – 24 February) is open only to the trade.


18th February, 2015.

Profitable opportunities for stockists and easy ways for consumers to pick up products are part of a new retail support package to be launched on Sunday.

Supplements specialist Animalife is exhibiting for the first time at BETA International on 22 – 24 February at the NEC, Birmingham.

The company behind Vetrofen and Vetroflex has already demonstrated its support for bricks and mortar retailers. Online only stores are not eligible to join its Accredited Retailer scheme.

At the BETA International trade fair, Animalife introduces new initiatives that will give its 250 plus Accredited Retailers more choice about where, how and when they order.

Eligible visiting retailers can join the scheme and find out more about additions to Animalife’s Lifestage range of nutritional solutions at stand H4.1.

Everyone who calls at the Animalife stand will be offered a free glass of bubbly.

For information about BETA International visit


16th February, 2015.

BETA International buyers could win £1,000s worth of products in ETN’s famous winner-takes-all prize draw.

Entry is open to all retailers attending the show by handing in business details at the ETN stand (P1.1).

Prizes have been donated by ETN advertisers who are also BETA International 2015 exhibitors. A full list can be found in the official show preview – the February issue of ETN.

One of the prizes on offer is priceless - a Retailer Profile editorial feature on the winner’s store in an upcoming issue of ETN.


11th February, 2015.

New buyers attending BETA International 2015 are set to reach record numbers when the three-day trade fair opens next Sunday (22 February).

More than 1,300 applications have been received from first-time visitors, organisers are reporting.

Open only to the trade, BETA International is where equestrian, country clothing, outdoor and pet product retailer buyers view and order new stock for their stores.

“The number of visitor pre-registrations to date is extremely strong and we are very excited that figures include so many retailers who are planning to make their very first visit to the trade fair,” said BETA International organiser Claire Thomas.

Almost 300 exhibitors – 24% from overseas and 110 new to the show – will be at the NEC, Birmingham, on 22 - 24 February.

ETN is the media partner of BETA International. See ETN February issue for the only official BETA International 2015 preview.

For show information, visit


11th February, 2015. has moved to new premises giving it an extra 20,000 sq ft.

The online retailer’s new 22 acre base is at Bowers Mill, Barkisland near Halifax, four miles from its previous location at Sowerby Bridge.

The last six years have seen “significant growth in the business”, according to CEO Lorraine Meadowcroft.

“The move will now allow us to ensure our customers get the high street experience they deserve for equestrian products,” she added. [previously known as Equestrian Clearance Warehouse] plans to introduce 24/7 shifts at busy periods and despatch six or seven days per week.

The company is recruiting staff to work in-house and from home.

“For 2015, customers will see a significant rise in the number of top brands introduced to the site as we work hard with our supplier partners,” said Lorraine.

The retailer is also to continue to sponsor the Hickstead Derby and work with Horse & Hound to promote the major showjumping fixture.


11th February, 2015.

A BETA International exhibitor’s sister brand has won a four-year contract to supply the British army.

Uniform footwear brand Magnum, owned by Hi-Tec Sports whose equestrian and country boots can be seen at the trade fair on 22 – 24 February, has been appointed official supplier of indoor training footwear to the Ministry of Defence.

Three times world and commonwealth squash champion Nick Matthew worked with Hi-Tec Sports to help design the XTS14. Soldiers wear the cross trainer for gym work and circuit training.

“We’re very proud to be a British brand supporting British troops,” said managing director Ian Cameron.

• For a full list of exhibitors at BETA International 2015, plus a floorplan of the show, see the February issue of ETN.


10th February, 2015.

Frank Baines and Steve Marks have been awarded Fellowships of the Society of Master Saddlers (SMS).

The presentation took place during the society’s National Saddlery Competitions at Saddlers’ Hall in London at the end of last month.

Steve is now semi-retired but remains chairman of The Ideal Saddle Company. Frank heads Frank Baines Saddlery, the family business he established in 1983.

Find out who won awards at the SMS National Saddlery Competitions in the March issue of ETN.


9th February, 2015.

Trilanco is a finalist in its home county’s business awards.

The equestrian and animal health distributor is in the running to win two Red Rose Awards.

The accolades celebrate Lancashire commerce and industry. Poulton-le-Fylde based Trilanco is a finalist in the family business of the year and medium business of the year categories.

“It’s the first time we’ve entered and to make it through to the final stages in two categories was beyond our expectations,” said managing director Martin Balmer.

“We’re up against some very strong companies, so we’ll just have to see what happens.”

The Red Rose Awards will be presented on Thursday, 12 March at Winter Gardens, Blackpool.


4th February, 2015.

A year of positive consumer spending lies ahead, say retail pundits.

Although shop prices [across all sectors] are down for the 21st consecutive month, cheaper oil reducing retailers’ costs is helping cushion the impact.

For retailers to stay competitive, it’s imperative they pass on cost savings to consumers, say the experts.

The latest British Retail Consortium (BRC) Nielson Shop Price Index, published today, reports that shop prices decelerated by 1.3% in January and by 1.6% on a 12 month average basis.

Non-food deflation slowed to 1.8% in January from 2.8% in December.

“Clearly customers were taking advantage of the January sales resulting in plenty of stock shifting,” says Helen Dickinson, BRC director general

“There is some evidence that the heavy discounting in early December resulted in some retailers pulling their new season stock forward, which meant a significant amount of goods were sold at full price in January.

“The halving of the oil price since the summer has helped the retail supply chains with the impact of these falls, continuing to make their way through to shop prices.”

With inflation low, the jobs market robust and rising real incomes gathering pace, the outlook for consumer spending looks positive, added Ms Dickinson.

“Deflation doesn’t always translate into bad news for retailers. The Producers Price Index (which tracks the cost of raw materials to producers) remains deflationary, so retail businesses will continue to see decreases in their own input costs for the foreseeable future.

“2015 is shaping up to be win-win year for shoppers and retailers alike.”


3rd February, 2015.

World Horse Welfare – the chosen charity of this month’s BETA International 2015 – has won a tourism award.

The charity’s Belwade Farm Rescue & Rehoming Centre was named ‘best visitor attraction’ at the Aberdeen & Shires Tourism Awards.

Based near Aboyne on the edge of the Cairngorms National Park and overlooking Royal Deeside, visitor comforts include a renowned bistro within the centre’s indoor arena.

Belwade Farm is Scotland’s largest receiving centre for cases of equine neglect, cruelty and ignorance. It aims to rehabilitate and rehome horses but regularly runs to maximum capacity of around 65 horses and ponies at any one time.

The centre is open from 11am to 4pm Wednesday to Sunday throughout the year. Group visits are welcome by appointment on tel 01339 885398.

World Horse Welfare will be at BETA International at the NEC, Birmingham on 22 – 24 February. More details at


3rd February, 2015.

A competition organised by an online retailer was unfairly run.

Rebecca Penny t/a Bridleworks also breached the prize promotions code, says the Advertising Standards Authority (ASA).

Five complaints were made about a competition on the company’s Facebook page which told consumers they were “in with a chance of your horse or pony being the face of Bridleworks”

Entrants were invited to upload a photo and ask their ‘Facebook friends’ to vote for it.

The top 20 would go through to a second round, the winner being chosen by “an independent panel of judges.”

Four complainants said a winner wasn’t announced and challenged whether the promotion was fairly administered.

Another complainant believed the voting system wasn’t clearly stated in the terms and conditions.

Both complaints were upheld by the advertising watchdog.

• See ETN February issue to read Laurie May’s advice on how clever use of social media can help you gain new customers – while staying within the rules.