21st February, 2019.

There are treats in store for regular shoppers.

Cotswolds based retailer Equiboodle has introduced a new loyalty card for regular customers.

To be used in store, the scheme rewards customers on their fifth and twelfth purchases.

For every £20 or more spent in its Cirencester shop, Equiboodle adds a sticker to customers’ loyalty cards. When five stickers have been collected, card-holders receive a free bag of treats. 12 stickers entitle customers to 20% off their next purchase.

“Loyalty is really important to us,” says Victoria Bodey of Equiboodle. “We love building up relationships with our clients, getting to know them and their horses, and finding products that we know they’ll love.

“We have a large number of lovely, loyal customers, so we decided to show our love with a reward card. Customers can pick one up on their next visit and start using it immediately.”

Equiboodle stocks gear for leisure and competition riders, as well as supplements and equine products.


21st February, 2019.

Marketing role for international rider.

International endurance rider Bella Fricker has joined Spillers as brand assistant.

She will also work on the feed company’s Care-Line advice service.

Bella has been hooked on endurance riding since she was 13. She continued to compete while at university, before graduating with a degree in politics and international relations.

While working as a professional rider on two endurance yards, Bella raced and crewed in ten different countries. In 2016, she competed in the European Young Riders Championship. She was also on the fourth placed British team at the CEI02* Nations Cup last year.

Riding her ten year old Anglo-Arab gelding Spanish Heir, Bella is working towards this year’s European championships to be held on home soil at Euston Park.

“I feel I have struck gold with this role, getting to enjoy both my passion for horses and demonstrate my creativity and love of marketing,” she said of her appointment with Spillers.


21st February, 2019.

Managing director will continue to run the business.

Equestrian insurance broker Shearwater has been acquired by Global Risk Partners (GRP) for an undisclosed sum.

GRP specialises in buying out niche businesses and portfolios in the insurance market.

Hertfordshire based Shearwater Insurance Services was founded in 1992 by Jeremy Lawton. Now its managing director, he will continue to run the business, while its 36 employees will stay with Shearwater under its new ownership.

Mike Bruce, GRP’s group managing director, commented: “Shearwater is a strong growth prospect with a quality proposition in both equine insurance and other commercial and personal lines.”

Jeremy Lawton added: “GRP already has an excellent track record in our sector, via Lonmar, one of the most famous names in bloodstock insurance.”

Shearwater’s clients will be unaffected by the acquisition, says the company, as cover and business will continue as normal. New insurance facilities can be expected in the near future.

GRP is backed by private equity firm Penta Capital LLP.


21st February, 2019.

Businesses urged to ditch paper receipts as VAT goes digital.

HMRC is inviting businesses to reduce time spent on paperwork and join its digital revolution by testing the new Making Tax Digital (MTD) service for submitting VAT returns.

Most businesses above the VAT threshold will need to keep their records digitally and submit their VAT return using compatible software when MTD is introduced from 1 April 2019.

In practice, the vast majority of businesses won’t need to send their first MTD return until August at the earliest. But if they aren’t already keeping their records digitally, they will need to start doing so, warns HMRC which is encouraging more businesses to get involved early by organising software and starting to test the service now.

Mel Stride, Financial Secretary to the Treasury, said: “Anything that helps businesses to manage their tax more easily so they can focus on what they do best - innovating, expanding, and creating jobs and profits - is what every modern business needs.

“In a world where customers and suppliers are already banking, paying bills and shopping online, it makes sense for HMRC and businesses to bring tax affairs fully into the 21st century.

“Going digital with business records and taxes is the next step to businesses getting more control over their business and their finances.”

Theresa Middleton, director of the Making Tax Digital for Business Programme, added: “There is no change to ‘what’ information is provided through MTD, just ‘how’ it is recorded, generated and provided.

“We want to help businesses be ready for the changes which kick in for VAT periods which start on or after 1 April.”

Every business required to join this year will have been contact by the end of this month (February). More than 16,500 businesses have already signed up to do their VAT digitally.

For most businesses, their accountant or other tax representative will already be aware and will advise them how and when they need to make changes to be ready for the new service.

Those already using software will simply need to ensure it’s MTD compatible before joining the new service.

For those not using an accountant, HMRC says it’s quick and easy to sign up and there is lots of information available to help them prepare, including about what software is available.

What businesses need to do?

• Take steps to find out if your business is affected by the Making Tax Digital changes and what you need to do if it is. Most businesses above the VAT threshold have to start keeping their records digitally and sending their VAT return to HMRC direct from their software for VAT periods starting on or after 1 April.
• Talk to your accountant or other agent – if you use one to manage your VAT affairs - about how they are making returns Making Tax Digital compliant.
• Speak to your software provider if you already use software to ensure it will be compatible.
• Those businesses who are either not represented by an accountant and/or do not already use software will need to select software to use and sign-up to MTD. The GOV.UK webpages provide information on a wide variety of products, from free software for businesses with more straightforward tax affairs, to increasingly sophisticated paid solutions. There are also products that can be used in conjunction with a spreadsheet for those businesses who don’t want to change their underlying record keeping system.

Guides for businesses, agents and others are available here Use software to submit your VAT Returns

Webinars and videos for Making Tax Digital are available Making Tax Digital for Business - stakeholder communications pack


19th February, 2019.

Make sure you’re investing in your business and not your employees’ careers.

If an employee resigns, can their employer lawfully oblige them to repay some or all of any training costs that the employer has met? It’s a question Paul Kelly of Blacks Solicitors is often asked. He says:

In some professions there is a requirement for employees to have specific qualifications before they can progress in their career - and as a matter of custom and practice the employer foots the bill.

On occasions, the employer will require employees to have particular qualifications - for example, so that the employer can offer a broader range of services to clients and customers. Again, it is accepted that the employer will get their cheque book out because, ultimately, it is they who will benefit from the employee expanding their skill set.

Depending on the sector and the nature of the course, fees can run into many thousands of pounds over a period of a few years.

So how can employer guard against an employee obtaining a qualification or skill at their employer’s expense but then resigning before the employer has had a chance to recoup their investment? The answer is that it is for the employer to put protections in place.

An employer contemplating sending an employee on a course that the employer will pay for should, before the course starts, require the employee to enter into an agreement which addresses the possibility of repayment.

A well-drafted agreement will set out the terms upon which the employer will pay course fees and the circumstances in which the employee might be required to repay them - usually upon premature resignation. Without such an agreement the employer has little prospect of recovering anything from the employee.

However, simply saying to an employee that they must repay all of the costs of any training upon resignation, no matter when resignation occurs, will not work. As likely as not such an agreement would be viewed by the courts as constituting a penalty - and so would be void.

An employer can seek to recover only what the employer estimates to be their ‘genuine loss’ at the point of resignation. The reasoning for this is that the longer the employee remains in employment, the greater the benefit the employer will derive from the employee’s new qualifications or skills, so the smaller the financial loss the employer will suffer by the employee resigning.

As a result of the passage of time the employer will eventually lose completely their ability to recover training costs.

It is very important that an agreement to repay training costs is drafted carefully. A poorly drafted agreement is likely to be unenforceable or ineffective - and, will do nothing to minimise the risk that an employer will fund a career-enhancing qualification for the employee, only to see them quickly leave to join a competitor!

Typically, a well-drafted agreement will seek to claw back a reducing portion of the training costs over a period of time. For example, if an employee resigns within 6 months after training they might be required to repay 100% of the fees. If they leave between 6 and 12 months after training they might be required to repay, say, 75% of the fees, and so on.

The portion which is appropriate is a decision for the employer based on the nature of the course, the cost, and the opportunity for the employer to see a return on their investment.

Whilst some employers include a clawback agreement as standard in their contracts of employment, it is arguably better to insist that an employee signs a separate, well-drafted, agreement each time they embark on a new course.

• Contact Paul Kelly of Blacks Solicitors for advice and more information, email PKelly@lawblacks.com or visit www.lawblacks.com


18th February, 2019.

New recruits are covering the east and west of England.

Woof Wear has recruited two new area sales managers.

Jan Mol, who is covering eastern England, started work in the trade in 1988 alongside the late Nick Ward for Hydrophane Laboratories.

Jan later moved to Horsemasters Distribution, then launched German brand Busse-Reitsport into the UK.

Lauren Hardman, Woof Wear’s new area sales manager for the west of England, has been an equestrian enthusiast since she was three years old.

She has worked in sales for Mountain Horse for three years. Before that, Lauren was an equine specialist in a busy Countrywide store.


18th February, 2019.

A retailer has been reprimanded for failing to keep proper records for the supply of prescription-only animal medicines.

Aurivo (NI) Ltd, owner of the Homeland Agri store at Dromore Retail Park, Omagh, Co Tyrone, has been issued with an Improvement Notice by the Veterinary Medicines Directorate (VMD).

The VMD has reminded Aurivo that all POM-VPS supplies must be prescribed by a SQP and full records kept of purchaser, product, date of supply, quantity and batch number – and that records must be maintained for at least five years.

POM-VPS products are animal medicines which can only be prescribed by a vet, pharmacist or SQP (suitably qualified person). Many equine wormers, and cat and dog flea treatments fall into the POM-VPS category.

VMD is a government agency and part of Defra.

• ETN runs regular AMTRA accredited SQP CPD features and quizzes to help these animal health advisors earn the CPD points required to maintain their professional qualification. The next one appears in ETN March issue.


11th February, 2019.

A European grooming brush brand that’s become popular in the UK has a new owner.

Eva Marina Böhm, who invented the MagicBrush grooming range, has sold the brand.

The new owner is German wholesaler Albert Kerbl which has distributed the colourful collection of brushes for many years.

MagicBrush’s long-time marketer Matthias Linnert-Kuhn has joined Albet Kerbl too.

“From now on, I will be responsible for strategic brand communication of the whole Albert Kerbl company”, he said.

MagicBrush arrived in the UK in 2012. It has conical shaped bristles for grooming and massaging, doubles as a sweat-scraper and is machine washable.

Trilanco remains its main UK distributor.


11th February, 2019.

Retailer to run ‘speed dating with your dog’ event for Valentine’s Day.

A retailer is to run its first speed dating event ahead of Valentine’s Day this week.

Pet Pavilion is inviting singles looking for love to come along to Chelsea Farmers Market, London, on Wednesday evening – and to bring their dogs.

The free event promises an evening of “fun and flirting” for the humans, while their canine companions will enjoy complimentary pawsecco, doggy treats and a goody bag to take home.

“What better way for single people who share a love of dogs to meet?” says the store’s proprietor Alex Saville-Edells.

“The dogs being there will be an ice breaker to help get the conversation started. And guests will be reassured knowing they already have at least one thing in common!”

He has a word of advice for dog-loving singletons too. “Dogs have very strong instincts, so if your dog isn’t a fan of the person sat in front of you, then perhaps they’re not a potential suitor, let alone your perfect match…”

Pet Pavilion has boutique stores in Chelsea, Kensington, Notting Hill, Wimbledon, Battersea and Hampstead.


11th February, 2019.

Independent stores that stand out in their local communities are urged to enter. And it’s free…

The organisers behind the Creative Retail Awards are looking to find the Best Independent Store Design or Display that was completed in 2018.

The award highlights the value of innovative design within independent retail.

“Winning would put your company centre stage with some of the world’s most visionary and influential retailers and designers including Chanel, Vodafone, Topshop, Joseph and Birchbox, amongst others,” says Paula Morgan of organiser the Shop Display Equipment Association (SDEA).

“Entrants must be able to demonstrate what makes their store stand out in the community,” she adds. “How does it stand out amongst larger competitors or those with bigger budgets?”

Entries are completely free for retailers and are judged by an esteemed panel of retail design and display experts.

The Creative Retail Awards is an annual event that recognises the most innovative, inspirational and forward-thinking retail display and design. The winners will be announced at an evening ceremony on 6 June at London’s newest super-club, Proud Embankment.

To find out more and to enter the awards, visit www.creativeretailawards.com


11th February, 2019.

Current cases highlight the importance of bio-security precautions, says BETA.

Common sense should prevail during the current equine flu outbreak, says the British Equestrian Trade Association (BETA).

A crisis in horse racing unfolded last week after six cases of equine flu were discovered in vaccinated horses at a trainer’s Cheshire yard.

All UK racing is on hold until at least this Wednesday (13 February) while the British Horseracing Authority conducts testing across the country.

Last Friday, BETA’s veterinary consultant noted that the current outbreak was affecting small pockets of the racing thoroughbred sector with no evidence of wider spread.

The trade association has issued advice for those businesses receiving equipment – for example rugs for washing or clipper blades for sharpening - or visiting yards.

The virus is spread through close contact or proximity (up to 20 metres) and will persist for some time after contact (hours potentially not days), is BETA’s veterinary advice.

In the case of rugs, clippers and other equipment being brought into store for cleaning, sharpening or repair, anyone touching these items who may also be in contact with horses should wash their hands thoroughly after handling with an anti-viral substance available as gels, wipes or tablets and liquid for dilution.

Many antibacterial washes are also anti-viral, so the small print should be checked. If a substance or wipes claim to kill the human flu, then it will have the same effect on equine flu - and thus do the necessary job. Two of the most commonly used brands include Virkon and Trigene.

BETA’s executive director Claire Williams says the current outbreak highlights the importance of bio-security for all businesses coming into contact with equines.

“If you or members of staff visit yards, then please use common sense – now and in the future. Whilst this flu outbreak raises specific questions, bio-security precautions should be taken whenever visiting yards.”

BETA suggests the following protocol:

1. Before going to a yard call, check its health status and ensure that there are no horses coughing or with snotty noses.
2. Avoid or postpone visits to yards where there are signs of illness.
3. Sensible bio-security measures should be taken as a precaution if visiting yards, such as washing hands thoroughly with anti-viral washes or wipes following contact or close proximity with each horse.
4. Any kit that has touched or been in proximity with horses should also be wiped.
5. The same applies to clothing where there is evidence of dirt, spit or nasal discharges on them. Either change outer layers, wipe down with wipes or wear disposable covers/overalls.


11th February, 2019.

Find out who is February’s ETN/SMS Saddle Fitter of the Month.

Nicola Barry has been named ETN/SMS Saddle Fitter of the Month.

The award, presented by ETN in conjunction with the Society of Master Saddlers (SMS), recognises those whose good practise is making a difference to horses, riders and the saddlery industry.

Nicola was nominated by Phil Lowe of Zebra Products, who says: “Being a very successful rider herself, Nicola knows how important a correctly fitting saddle is and how this can make a big difference to how the horse and rider perform together.

“Her attention to detail, whether she is assisting a 4 star show jumper or a Pony Club partnership, is second to none.”

Nicola founded Buckaroo Saddlery, based at Vale View Equestrian Centre in Leicestershire. As well as being a busy retail operation, Buckeroo offers a full saddle fitting service covering English and international saddlery brands.

Nicola was the first person in the UK to become an SMS Qualified Saddle Fitter and an MSFC saddle fitting consultant.

She is also an accomplished show jumper who has produced horses to grand prix level.

Combining the roles of saddle fitter and competitor underlines the importance of the saddle, rider and horse relationship, she says.

Find out more about Nicola Barry in the February issue of ETN.

How to nominate a saddle fitter

Everyone is invited to nominate saddle fitters they feel deserve to be named ETN Saddle Fitter of the Month. Candidates for the award must be SMS Qualified Saddle Fitters based in the UK or overseas.

To nominate a saddle fitter (or more than one), email editor@equestriantradenews.com and tell us why this person deserves to be put in the spotlight. Please include the saddle fitter’s name and business name too.


4th February, 2019.

How a last minute decision to exhibit at BETA International 2019 paid off...

A British manufacturer has BETA International 2020 in its diary following a “fantastic” first appearance last month.

Sherburn-in-Elmet, Yorkshire based Hydrotherm launched its H2 hot horse shower at the end of November – and applied for a stand two weeks before the show. Yet its new product made a big impression on trade buyers at the NEC, Birmingham.

Louise McNair, sales and marketing director, told ETN: “It was a fantastic show. We sold 360 units over the three days and had a queue of people waiting to see a demonstration video.”

BETA International also fulfilled Hydrotherm’s ambition to contact serious retail buyers. “We were particularly looking for family-run, independent retailers,” said Louise. “They are the right outlets for us, and they can make a very good margin [on our product] too.”

Louise also scored a personal boost from exhibiting. “The company was so pleased, I’ve since been promoted,” she said.

“We’ll definitely be back next year. Up to now, the only marketing we’ve done has been on Facebook. But BETA International has given us credibility.”

As well as being handy around horses, Hydrotherm hot showers are popular with campers, lorry drivers, mountain bikers and on building sites. The size of a small grooming box, they are electrically operated with a built-in pump.

BETA International 2020 is on 19 – 21 January. Find out more at www.beta-int.com


4th February, 2019.

“We produce some of the best horses in the world and we need great saddlery,” says apprentice with big plans.

A top saddlery apprentice is determined to boost saddle-making skills in Ireland.

Lucy Cushley (26) hopes one day to set up a training centre for saddlers in the country.

Lucy was named winner of the 2019 Abbey England Saddlery Scholarship during last month’s BETA International trade show.

The apprentice, who is based in Northern Ireland and mentored by Master Saddler James Adair, won £500 to spend on saddlery workshop tools.

Lucy, who grew up around horses, completed her City & Guilds Level 2 in Saddle, Bridle and Harness Making at Capel Manor College. She has also taken a flocking course, is working towards her Level 3 Diploma and to train in lorinery too.

Lucy aims to become a Master Saddler. Eventually she hopes to open an Irish training centre to “bring saddlery back to Ireland.”

She added: “Saddlery in Ireland is so far behind. We produce some of the best horses in the world and we need great saddlery.”

With no bursaries available in Northern Ireland, Lucy has had to make the journey to England many times to attend courses and workshops. “It can be difficult financially at times so this [scholarship] will make a real difference,” she said.

“It’s also great to establish contact with Abbey England as a supplier and my first purchase will be a set of metal loop sticks.”

Said Richard Brown of Abbey England: “We are thrilled to be able to assist Lucy in her dreams and aspirations to improve the saddle-making industry in Ireland.”


4th February, 2019.

Appointment underlines company’s support for trade customers.

Sarah Keenan has joined Blue Chip Feed as commercial executive.

Her remit includes supporting the balancer and supplement specialist’s trade customers.

Sarah has previously worked as a buyer for engineering companies and owns four horses.

She has two degrees. Her first is a B. Eng. (Hons) in manufacturing systems with business, after which she studied to become a Member of the Chartered Institute of Purchase and Supply.

Sarah then worked as a buyer for two engineering companies where she introduced new software systems and quality assurance schemes. She has also been a director of a start-up business she helped form.

In the equestrian world, Sarah has BHS (British Horse Society) qualifications and recently graduated in equine science from Derby College Equestrian Centre.

She owns four horses and enjoys competing and leisure riding. She is married with two sons.

Sarah’s appointment signifies the increased focus Blue Chip has on the development of its commercial relationships, says the company.


4th February, 2019.

The firm has donated the equivalent of 250 bags of feed.

Spillers has donated £3,038 to Redwings Horse Sanctuary to help the charity feed its senior horses and ponies over the winter.

The feed brand made the gift by contributing 30p for every promotional bag of its new Spillers Senior Complete Care Mix, Spillers Senior Super-Mash and Spillers Supple + Senior Balancer sold during the launch period at the end of last year.

“This lovely donation is the whopping equivalent of 250 bags of Spillers Senior Super-Mash,” said Redwings head vet Nicola Jarvis.

“Redwings has more than 500 oldies in residence, many of which are facing challenges such as failing dentition, PPID, laminitis or loss of condition and muscle. These extra funds will help us to give them the complete care they need this winter. Thank you, Spillers!”