26th May, 2017.

Royal Windsor sees show trader and ETN diarist Guy Roper enjoying the best day’s trading he’s had in a while.

It was a bit a relief to leave the vagaries of Badminton behind and set up at Royal Windsor.

It just has to be one of the best organised events on the circuit. I love the thought that goes behind it and it's obvious in the presentation.

The crowds love it too; it's really well set out, allowing easy access to the arenas with the carriage driving action happening just beyond the trade village.

Uniform branding [on tradestands] means I don't have to struggle with the canvas banner I meant to replace at the end of last season - or totter on the too short stepladder with a handful of cable ties.

We all have our regulars, the customers that find us at each show because they like the range, know where the pitch will be, appreciate the service and have already balanced the sliding scale between quality and price. Then there is the passing trade; out for the day, tempted by the bargains or looking for the better quality purchase that will last.

I've made the point before about the cost of entry versus the spend in the trade village. It's never been better illustrated for me than this year at Windsor.

To anyone who booked pre-booked a ‘Windsor Wednesday’ ticket, it was free. What a brilliant idea! Punters had the pleasure of the show at no cost and almost certainly came back again. I certainly saw a few who'd looked then, and returned a day later to buy.

When you think of the entry cost at Badders or Burghley across all days, maybe there's a lesson to be learned. ‘Windsor Wednesday’ was the best day's trading I'd had in a while.

I hear that the sport of eventing is trying to broaden its appeal and, as ever, is trying top-down and presentational solutions. Maybe dropping admission prices in a time where we all have to look at our wallets could be a better - and cheaper – answer?

You don't need a costly consultant to tell you that - just the courage that comes from a belief in the sport.

Back at Windsor, I like that the organisers listen and learn. Following the muddy experience of the last couple of years, for example, aluminium walkways appeared.

This year’s catering tent, an imposing open marquee with stylish furniture and an excellent range of offerings, was truly world class. Sited beautifully close to the shopportunities. I couldn't help but note the contrast with the crowded plastic chairs at Badders between the food outlets and the Rural Crafts tent.

Like many, I had serious reservations over Windsor a number years ago. It had become a bit of a car boot event with a varied line of pop-up marquees straggling between arenas.

The reform was incisive but brilliant and the trading environment has massively improved. It is now just about the best presented show I trade at.

Ultimately, it's about dialogue and mutual respect. Windsor’s organisers have improved their offer to me and I respect the rules that come with that.

The chum that ‘saved’ a few quid by handing his vehicle pass back through the fence to sneak in another van now faces a two year ban. Was that worth the saving on buying another pass?

Like most things in life, our relationship with show organisers is a bit of give and take.




25th May, 2017.

Manufacturers’ agent Keith Dickinson died following a short illness on Sunday, 14 May. He was 64.

He had been a popular figure in the equestrian and outdoor trades for more than 30 years.

Originally from Kent, Keith was based in Gomersal, Yorkshire. He was working until becoming ill very recently.

“He was my longest serving agent starting for us back in 1991,” said Kevin Weeks, sports and leisure manager at Tran Am Ltd.

“Keith was very good at opening doors and building up relationships. He was highly respected and well-liked by his customers and the suppliers he worked for.

“We will miss him, he was such a friendly character.”

During his career, Keith also represented Sherwood, Gallop, Bucas and Horka.

Funeral arrangements have yet to be announced. ETN understands that he had no immediate family.


25th May, 2017.

Vittoria Castagnetta and Emily Denson have joined the sales and marketing team at NAF.

Vittoria, an equestrian sports science graduate, was born in Milan and grew up in Geneva. She has show jumped to national level in Europe.

Emily, who has evented to two star level, previously worked in recruitment where she specialised in animal health.


25th May, 2017.

Horse & Country TV’s UK and German channels are now available on Amazon Channels.

A new service accessible to Amazon Prime members, Amazon Channels launched this week (23 May) in the UK and Germany.

Its line-up includes genre channels such as Discovery Channel, Eurosport Player and ITV Hub +, plus Amazon’s own Bollywood channel, Heera.

British and German Amazon Prime members can add a variety of individual channels to their Amazon Prime Video viewing experience.

Equestrians are able to view Horse & Country’s live channel, all shows from the past 10 days’ schedule and other selected video on demand.

Viewers can subscribe to the channels for £3.99 or €3.99 per month.

Horse & Country TV CEO Heather Killen described the move as “a landmark development in the ongoing distribution of H&C TV.”


25th May, 2017.

Feed supplier Rowen Barbary is running a raffle with £1,000 worth of horse feed up for grabs.

The entire proceeds of raffle tickets sales are to be donated to the Mark Davies Injured Riders Fund.

Tickets can be bought on Rowen Barbary’s stand at the Suffolk Show (May 31/June 1), Royal Cheshire Show (20/21 June), Royal Highland (22 – 25 June) or Blenheim Horse Trials (14 – 17 September).

First prize is £500 worth of feed plus a consultation with a Rowen Barbary nutritionist.


22nd May, 2017.

Everyone equestrian is urged to sign a petition to the European Commission and impose a maximum journey limit of 12 hours for the 50,000 horses transported to slaughter across Europe every year.

International charity World Horse Welfare is basing its campaign on the latest scientific evidence from the European Food Standards Agency.

Under existing EU legislation, the journey to the slaughterhouse for many horses can last for days with little chance to eat, drink or rest along the way.

World Horse Welfare confirms that, thanks to previous campaigns, conditions have improved. While the number of horses transported long distances to slaughterhouses has fallen by 70% in the last 15 years.

This new petition is the next step in the charity’s journey to end the long-distance trade by 2027.

It’s calling on the European Commission to take heed of the recommendation from its own scientific advisors at the European Food Safety Authority to impose a 12 hour maximum journey limit for horses.

The proposed change would make compliance with the law easier for transporters – and therefore more likely to be enforced - as shorter journeys could be better harmonised with driver working and rest times.

“Horses should be slaughtered as close to source as possible and we hope to one day see the needless long-distance trade consigned firmly to history,” said Roly Owers, chief executive of World Horse Welfare

“I urge everyone to please sign our petition, and encourage your friends and family to do so as well. We know that petitions work and have helped bring about change - every signature counts.”

To sign the petition please visit: http://bit.ly/2pWImPB


22nd May, 2017.

Shires Equestrian is to return as sponsor of the New Product Gallery at BETA International 2018.

It will be the fifth consecutive year that Shires – a long time exhibitor at the show – has supported the feature area.

BETA International’s Shires New Product Gallery puts the latest lines, launches and brands in the spotlight.

It’s considered a trade fair essential for visiting retailers seeking new stock, ideas and inspiration.

“The New Product Gallery is always a hive of activity and draws a continual flow from visitors and exhibitors alike who are keen to find out about the latest innovations,” said Shires’ joint managing director Marcus Cridland.

BETA International organiser Claire Thomas added: “Shires has been a loyal supporter of the trade fair for many years. The synergy between this feature and Shires, with its exciting range of equestrian collections, works extremely well.”

• BETA International is the world’s leading trade exhibition for equestrian, country clothing, outdoor and pet products. The 2018 show takes place at the NEC, Birmingham, from 21 to 23 January. For further information about exhibiting, contact James Palmer, telephone +44 (0)1937 582111 or email jamesp@beta-int.com


22nd May, 2017.

Newtyle Nominees Limited – the company that owns retailers Derby House and Ride-away - has acquired e-commerce host Internet Fusion Limited.

Founded in 2004, Internet Fusion controls a portfolio of e-commerce websites mainly in the outdoor and action sports markets.

Following the acquisition, Internet Fusion’s managing director Martin Brailsford has become group chief executive.

Martin Turley continues as managing director of the equestrian businesses.

Newtyle Nominees acquired Ride-away from Pets at Home in October 2016.

• Read more about this growing retail group’s plans in ETN June issue.


22nd May, 2017.

Nettex has appointed Jo Revell as south and south-west area account manager.

For the past 14 years, she has been the south-west area sales manager for Badminton Feeds/Baileys Horse Feeds.

After leaving education, Jo taught riding in Jersey.

She has also worked with the Swiss dressage team and at a private show jumping yard in Italy.

She has competed in different equestrian disciplines too.


16th May, 2017.

Jean-François Vignion, the CEO of French wholesaler Ekkia, died at the Hospital of Salpétrière in Paris on Sunday, 16 April. He was 65.

His funeral took place on 21 April in the Church Sainte-Geneviève in Asnières-sur-Seine.

“Mr Vignion will stay forever in our memories for his personal and professional contribution to the equestrian business world,” said a spokesman for Ekkia.

Ekkia owns the Equi-Thème brand and regularly exhibits at BETA International.

A new CEO, Eric Imiola, has been appointed.


15th May, 2017.

You and your customers are urged to spend five minutes next week taking a national survey into horses’ well-being.

Results from the National Equine Health Survey (NEHS), run by animal charity Blue Cross and the British Equine Veterinary Association (BEVA), help safeguard future equine health and welfare.

By giving an overview of equestrian consumers’ concerns, the data also produces valuable statistics for product development and retail planning.

Last year, survey records were returned for 17,000 equines.

The most notable diseases were lameness including laminitis, skin diseases such as sweet itch and mud fever, laminitis, PPIC (Cushing’s disease), recurrent airway obstruction and back problems.

The survey runs from 22 to 29 May. Visit www.bluecross.org.uk/NEHS or email NEHS@bluecross.org.uk to register.


15th May, 2017.

The way saddle fitters are trained is to change.

Last week, the Society of Master Saddlers (SMS) announced that its training methods have been refreshed following an internal review.

A new saddle fitting training manager, Alastair Sutherland, has been appointed.

There are also plans to expand SMS courses and their content.

In addition, the SMS has commissioned an independent study to investigate the effects of saddle tree length and width.

• Find out more in the June issue of ETN.


15th May, 2017.

Show trader and ETN diarist Guy Roper reports from Badminton.

Like the return of the house martens, my annual cycle of migration begins again: Badminton, Royal Windsor, Hickstead, Bramham... Living in the van, hearing the weather on my roof in the night, wondering what it means for the next day’s takings.

People often ask "How do you get a tradestand at Badminton?" It's a good question: I used to reply: “Keep applying or buy a company that already has a pitch.”

Now things are a little less clear and the process seems to be as mysterious as 2oz of feathers finding its way from Africa to the pitch under my eaves where they were last year.

There’s little doubt that an outside pitch is more cost effective than a tiny stand in one of the sheds. Long, long, ago it used to be a good way in; try one of the pavilions to see how your offer will go, then apply to move on and ultimately get your own place.

Logically, there should be turnover as companies revise their marketing strategy and move on - haven't seen Hilton Herbs there for a while. But now it seems the quickest way to make the transition is to be in lifestyle not equestrian.

How else do you explain the rapid move of the Polish pottery people from a box in a big tent to a stand on one of the main drags after only a couple of years? Apparently it was offered to them... Quite a contrast with other (equestrian) traders' experiences of repeated applications for years without result.

Perhaps another way in is that adopted by one chum. After years with a showcase stand in one of the sheds, applying each year on the appropriate form at the appropriate time, he got fed up and simply left. Three years later, the usual application to Badders suddenly proved successful and a prime slot suddenly appeared to be vacant.

In the world of Trump perhaps we shouldn't be surprised by our commercial fortunes depending on refusing to play the game anymore or the organiser's favourite choice of cornflake bowl.

Actually, it begs the question of what the organisers actually do as regards the tradestand community. Sure, all the right noises are there - "vital part of the show etc etc.” And, yes, I’m appropriately grateful for my free bacon roll - now that Badders has copied BETA at Gatters and stumped up a free breakfast for stand holders three years running.

After all, I needed the extra protein after some bright spark changed the tried and tested system for parcel deliveries to site and switched the pick-up point from a discreet and convenient tent at the show entrance to a disused bungalow in the village... What was a quick carry or a minor trip with a sack truck suddenly became an expedition with a van to battle with an overwhelmed chap in a houseful of cardboard boxes.

Why transform a simple system into a time-consuming chore? While adding to vehicle movements on the site and in the village and taking another lump out of the trading day to boot.

Hopefully this will go the way of the quickly reversed attempt to alter the main entrance to the site a couple of years back. Nice to see that logic can prevail sometimes - as it did over the improved wi-fi signal. Yay! No more flimsy credit card slips.

All they need to do now is sort out the randomly tripping electrics which seemed incapable of coping with predictable surges in demand (yes, we all like to use a kettle at breakfast or before supper), and provide some more showers for the daily armpit to charm-pit transition, and we'd all be happy!

As to the trading, it was a bit like the weather - mixed. Some of the chums had a cracking few days, others less so. It's still a four-day show over five days, and the extra overhead makes you look at the bottom line.

The footfall was there but the CBQ (carrier bag quotient) seemed to be down. Ironically, one jolly customer told me on the blustery Wednesday afternoon, when the wind was like a knife, that they'd come a day early to do their shopping to avoid the crowds. Maybe they should have come on Thursday when the only queues were for bacon rolls?

Punters know the tradestands are key to them coming to the event. I know the tradestands are key to the success of the event. But do the organisers really understand that the retail offer is a major draw to the event?

For me the jury's out on that one. And the verdict rests on the costs, the showers and power and how easy they make it for me to be a part of the complex whole.




3rd May, 2017.

Abbey England will be among the exhibitors at a London event set to showcase British products.

Meet the Manufacturer takes place on 24/25 May at the Old Truman Brewery, Brick Lane in the capital’s East End.

Abbey England is a well-known supplier of manufacturing and workshop materials, tools and accessories to the equestrian trade.

The company also serves the fashion and leather goods industries.

It will exhibit British-made products including Abbey locks, buckles and case fittings in different finishes such as pewter, gun metal and copper.

Leather and textiles suitable for bag straps, dog collars and leads will also be on its stand.

“As the demand for UK manufacturing increases, we are very proud to be a British producer and hope our range of products enables more manufacturers to be able to ‘make it British’,” said Peter Phillips of Abbey England.


3rd May, 2017.

India Thomson – former stable jockey to William Fox-Pitt - has joined feed company Spillers as a Care-Line nutritionist.

India grew up with horses. She passed the Pony Club A Test before running a competition yard in Suffolk where she competed, produced horses and point-to-pointed.

While employed by William Fox-Pitt, India travelled to the world’s top events. Her charges included Chilli Morning and Seacookie.

India now competes her ex-racehorse Shacklesborough at 2* level.

She is a milliner in her spare time.

“With more than 15 years of practical experience with horses, I’m really excited about the next phase in my career,” she said.

“As Care-Line nutritionist, I look forward to being a friendly voice for Spillers’ customers, helping them to find the best feed for their horses.”


3rd May, 2017.

If ever there was a case of equestrian persistence paying dividends, it’s the racehorse Gordon Lord Byron.

A new documentary film about the remarkable Irish Sprinter has its UK television premiere on Horse & Country TV this week (11 May, 9pm).

Gordon Lord Byron has amassed more than £1.7m in prizemoney, winning 15 times including Group One races from 71 starts.

But his start in life was in auspicious. Bought for €2,000, his owners only put him into training when no-one else wanted to buy him.

On his racing debut as a two-year-old, he was pulled up with a fractured pelvis. Only the perseverance of his trainer Tom Hogan ensured he was not put down.

As documented in this TV film Against The Odds, Gordon Lord Byron’s career also touched the lives of his connections in many inspiring ways.


3rd May, 2017.

Tackle & Guns, the 60 year old shooting and fishing trade magazine, has changed hands.

Marlow Creative has acquired the Tackle & Guns brand and intellectual property rights from David Hall Publishing (DHP).

As well as a monthly print magazine, Tackle & Guns has for 17 years also been a trade show. The 2017 running was cancelled earlier this year.

Marlow Creative is owned by Nick Marlow. He began his journalistic career on Tackle & Guns 17 years ago before editing sister title Tackle Trade World for seven years.

Nick said he is to bring a new look and feel to the magazine “with new, useful and interesting features and above all else, more news.”

Sean O’Driscoll, managing director of DHP, said: “With the changes going on in the company, Tackle & Guns was a brand that sadly we had to let go.”

A re-designed Tackle & Guns debuts in May.

Marlow Creative is due to make an announcement about the Tackle & Guns show later this month.


2nd May, 2017.

Baileys Performance Balancer has become the first of its kind to gain the BETA Gastric Ulcer Feed Assurance Mark.

It means the product is accredited as suitable for horses prone to or at risk from gastric ulcers when fed as part of a balanced diet.

Baileys Performance Balancer joins Baileys Ease & Excel plus four other products on the British Equestrian Trade Association (BETA) run scheme.

The BETA Gastric Ulcer Feed Assurance Mark was developed by BETA - in consultation with the Veterinary Medicines Directorate (VMD) – to help owners identify feeds suitable for horses and ponies prone to equine gastric ulcer syndrome (EGUS).

The trade association also runs the BETA NOPS [naturally occurring prohibited substances] feed assurance scheme.

Both schemes are open to all manufacturers – whether or not they are BETA members.

Find out more at www.beta-uk.org


2nd May, 2017.

A number of suppliers have announced sponsorships of event riders ahead of this week’s Badminton Horse Trials (4 – 7 May).

Riding hat manufacturer Charles Owen is to support Willa Newton.

Leicestershire based Willa (27) is in her fifth year as a professional rider. The 2016 season saw her ranked 66th in the world.

Swedish brand Stierna Equestrian Sportswear has unveiled sponsorship of Izzy Taylor.

Currently ranked 20th in the world, Izzy joins Jesse Campbell of New Zealand and Irish rider Felicity Ward on Team Stierna.

Emily King is the latest signing for HorseHage.

Emily’s mother Mary King has been sponsored by the bagged forage brand for the past 15 years.

• See an upcoming ETN newsletter to read Guy Roper’s report from behind the scenes around the Badminton trade stands.


2nd May, 2017.

Laura Cooper has joined TopSpec as business development manager for Lincolnshire and the East Midlands.

Leicestershire based Laura previously specialised in customer relations in the world of banking.

Laura has ridden from an early age. She plans to compete in dressage with her recently acquired new horse Roxy who’s out of a Woodlander mare.

“I really enjoy all aspects of the job from meeting owners and riders during yard visits to providing advice on feeding, and supporting the many retailers I call to see,” said Laura of her new role with the feed company.”


2nd May, 2017.

Consumer confidence remains “surprisingly stable” despite media hype about shoppers’ spending being dampened by credit binging, inflation and flat wages.

GfK’s long-established Consumer Confidence Index dropped just one point to -7 in April. Its ‘major purchases’ measure showed an increase.

“In the face of widespread reports of rampant inflation, stagnating wages and anxiety over our borrowing binge, UK consumer confidence is surprisingly stable,” said Joe Staton, head of market dynamics at analysts GfK.

“Although the Overall Index Score remains in negative territory, we have not seen any evidence of the predicted post-Brexit trigger downturn, despite high levels of concern about the general economic situation of the country.

“Consumers continue to remain positive about the state of their personal finances and even report that now is a good time to buy.

“But is this too good to be true? Is this simply the calm before the storm? Is pre-Brexit economic turbulence yet to really batter households?

“That threat cannot be ruled out. But for the moment, consumer sentiment remains relatively buoyant as we enter our two-year window of renegotiation and navigate the run-up to the General Election.”