24th September, 2018.

New project to boost exports of UK made saddles and bridle work.

The superior skills and craftsmanship of the British saddler are being showcased in an exciting new initiative developed by BETA International in collaboration with Abbey England, one of the UK's leading saddlery workshop suppliers.

The Abbey England Saddlery Pavilion, supported by the Worshipful Company of Saddlers, will allow some of the country's finest saddle makers to enjoy a presence at the show. British saddlery and leather work have an enviable reputation around the world and are highly prized among overseas buyers visiting BETA International.

“The Abbey England Saddlery Pavilion is a brilliant opportunity to see British saddlery at its best,” said BETA International sales manager James Palmer. “This new feature will help to support the UK's historic saddlery industry at a time when Walsall is finding it difficult to attract new blood. It also allows companies that have not previously exhibited at BETA International – or those that have not done so for a while – to dip their toe back into a receptive and enthusiastic world market.”

All saddlery companies wishing to secure a place in the Pavilion should not have had an independent presence at the show during the past three years. Abbey England will have its usual stand at the show but will not appear in the Pavilion. The area itself will house 11 British saddlery and leather suppliers, each on a stand of up to 6 square metres, with allocation carried out on a first come, first served basis. Five companies are already booked to appear.

Richard Brown, managing director of Abbey England, added: “We are delighted to be supporting the Saddlery Pavilion at BETA International. This is a new innovation at the trade fair and has come about as it aligns with the Abbey England philosophy of supporting the British saddlery industry and the fantastic craftsmanship and skills available throughout Walsall and Britain and the UK as a whole.

“We need to shout about the fantastic skills, knowledge, history and heritage that we have to offer throughout the country and be proud that British saddlery and our much-valued bench saddlers continue to produce such fantastic saddles and leather goods as a whole. Supporting the Saddlery Pavilion also highlights the crucial work of Abbey England, which takes place right in the heart of the manufacturing industry alongside our wonderful customers.”

BETA International is the leading trade fair for equestrian, country clothing, outdoor and pet products. Next year’s show takes place at the NEC, Birmingham, from 20 to 22 January. For further information about exhibiting in the Abbey England Saddlery Pavilion, contact James Palmer, telephone +44 (0)1937 582111 or email


24th September, 2018.

Company recruits Thoroughbred expert to cover the south-west.

Kirsty Durham, who’s joined Connolly’s Red Mills as sales representative in the south-west, has more than ten years’ experience in the Thoroughbred industry.

Since completing her National Stud Diploma, Kirsty has worked for leading breeding operation Coolmore in Australia and Ireland, as well as Hascombe Stud in Newmarket.

She has prepared Group winners, including Fantastic Moon and Zebedee, spent a season with Sir Mark Prescott and has worked yearling, foal and mare sales for agents Stuart Boman and Brendan Holland.

A rider since the age of five, Kirsty enjoys hunting and producing and competing horses in show jumping and showing.

“I’m very excited to be joining Connolly’s Red Mills,” she said. “I’m looking forward to bringing my industry experience to the role and to meeting our current and future customers.”


24th September, 2018.

A computer analyst turned bench saddler has become the Society of Master Saddlers’ new president.

Chris Taylor became president of the Society of Master Saddlers (SMS) at the society’s AGM on 11 September.

Mr Taylor has run Saddlers’ Den in Southport, Merseyside for 22 years and is a Master Saddler.

Chris takes over as SMS president from Sue Norton, with Ted Boggis moving into the vice president’s role.

A former computer analyst, Chris has owned horses and ridden for many years. Before moving into the saddlery industry full time, he enjoyed leather work as a hobby.

“As a bench saddler, I hit, stitch or cut it,” he said. “Our industry is a very hands on, traditional style trade - yet we’re living in a fast moving, highly technical world. More and more people are coming to understand and acknowledge the skill of our craftspeople and qualified saddle fitters.

“But it’s important not to stagnate, so we need to move with the times and buy into new technology and new advances.”


24th September, 2018.

This week’s Joules AGM could see a show-down over Tom Joule’s personal stake in the lifestyle brand.

Tom Joule could face a shareholders’ revolt as he attempts to take more control over the business he founded in 1989.

Shareholders are reportedly preparing to veto Mr Joule’s attempt to increase his personal stake in Joules from 32% to as much as 36%.

Joules has a current market value of around £278.3 million – double what it was when the company floated on the London stock exchange in 2016 - with Tom Joule’s holding said to be worth around £90 million.

Shareholders have been warned by investor advisory group ISS to vote against him taking more control ahead of Thursday’s AGM.

Tom Joule is a Joules’ board member and chief brand officer. In an interview with ETN in May this year, he said was still “very much hands on” with the business and could often be found working in Joules’ stores at busy times.


18th September, 2018.

Sponsor is “very proud” of Britain’s world champion.

Britain’s new world champion event rider Ros Canter has been congratulated by her long time sponsor Emerald Green Feeds.

The Lincolnshire based rider also led the British team to a world title at the World Equestrian Games (WEG) in Tryon, USA, yesterday (17 September).

“The Emerald Green Feeds team are delighted for Ros and the team,” said Sarah Poucher of the company which is based on her family’s Lincolnshire farm

“Two gold medals, what a great result and so well deserved. We are very proud sponsors,” she added.

Riding for the victorious British team were Ros Canter (Allstar B), Piggy French (Quarrycrest Echo), Tom McEwen (Toledo De Kerser), and Gemma Tattersall and Arctic Soul. Individual Brit Tina Cook (Bill The Red) finished ninth.

Meanwhile Zebra Products congratulated sponsored British rider Charlotte Dujardin who rode Mount St John Freestyle to dressage team and individual bronze medals at WEG.

“Huge congratulations to Charlotte,” said the distributor’s Simon Middleton. “As ever, she pulled out all the stops in both the team and individual tests and we are all delighted for her and the team.”

The other British dressage team members were Carl Hester, Spencer Wilton and Emile Faurie. Their success means Britain has qualified for the Tokyo 2020 Olympics in dressage.


18th September, 2018.

End of an era after a century supplying the trade.

Wholesaler Ackland Clark is to close at Christmas.

The Bristol based family business has supplied the equestrian trade for more than 100 years, earning a good reputation for its efficient but friendly service.

“We’re shutting down after five or six years of losing money,” proprietor Andrew Clark told ETN.

“As a number of our competitors – like Cottage Craft, Loveson and Westgate [EFI] - have disappeared [as wholesalers], we thought things might pick up. But they haven’t.”

A shrinking number of retailer customers has reduced Ackland Clark’s customer base, added Andrew. “We’d built up a really good number of loyal customers but gradually they’ve shut down due to retiring or dying. And of course some of the independents were taken over by chains over the past decade.”

The internet had also played a part in disrupting the traditional trade supply chain, he agreed.

“Fifteen or 20 years ago, things were good. People used to say that we may not be the cheapest, but we were the best and quickest on service,” said Andrew.

Ackland Clark was established 1891 as a harness manufacturer and saddlery wholesaler.

In April of this year, its team of five staff were told they would be losing their jobs by Christmas. They will be awarded redundancy packages. Four have been with Ackland Clark for around 25 years.

Andrew plans to take “enforced retirement” and to play more bridge.


18th September, 2018.

Show trader and ETN diarist Guy Roper reports from last weekend’s (13 – 16 September) Blenheim International Horse Trials.

There are times when very little makes sense. When you have near perfect trading weather and good numbers of visitors but the sales just don’t happen is such a time.

Time was that Blenheim was pretty much the end to the season. The first bite of autumn in the air, the last of the middle rank events where the top riders mingled with almost a local country show, the chance to move out some slower lines to trim the inventory for winter. The season ended on a bit of a high note, it didn’t fizzle out by lunchtime on the last day.

So what happened this year? Thursday and Friday were a bit slow with occasional bright spots as usual, and Saturday was looking good with good weather and good numbers. Up to lunchtime things looked promising, even if there was a fair percentage of the “I’ll come back later” crowd. Trouble is, even more than usual, they didn’t.

The passing pound passed by, lit upon lunch and spent the afternoon watching the cross-country. With a big field, the late finish killed the usual late surge and folks just headed home as the day wound to an end.

Empty seats

Sunday’s forecast wasn’t that good, but in the event (excuse the pun) while it was overcast, the rain didn’t come. Unfortunately, neither did the punters and numbers were appreciably down. There were even quite a few empty seats in the main arena for the show jumping, which said it all really. Those there were focussed on the competitions not the shopportunities and some trader chums were quietly packing up by 3 o’clock.

Trading patterns

What do we learn from it all? Seeking to understand trading patterns this season is beyond difficult. But there are a few things that possibly contributed to the sad end to an awful year.

The late finishes to the competition on Blenners’ Saturday and Sunday left little time for last minute shopping. The layout meant that for most out on the cross-country course, the car park was closer than the tradestands. Meanwhile the linear arrangement in two long rows up the hill with no lateral alleyways, except at top and bottom, discouraged a casual wander.

The food court concentration was very distinct from the rest of the tradestands and nearer the car parks and the two lower arenas. It’s a different business, but some catering chums had a cracking show, whereas others with a traditional offer up the hill in long established pitches were 50% down on the average year.

£40 vs £120

The admission price doesn’t help. Saturday was a whopping £28 on the gate with another £8 for parking. Under 12s were free with an accompanying adult.

The same weekend’s Midland Game Fair was £20 on the day, free for under 16s and free parking. So two adults and two teenage kids in the age range you want to attract to secure future attendance pay £40 to have a day at the MGF compared with £120 at Blenners.

It’s not rocket science to see where that leads and it’s not funny. Add to that the cost of food (£11 for a burger and chips and £2 for a fizzy drink), plus fuel to get there, and you’re seriously limiting the audience - and for those who do come, their spending power.

Unless something radically changes, these events - particularly the middle range ones like Blenners or Gatters - will simply wither on the vine.

Increasing the ticket prices and the stand fees can only lead in one direction; to an increasingly niche audience with the disposable income to afford to attend. And they probably aren’t the target market for most of us. Fewer tradestands will be the result.

Thinking seriously about 2019

Talking to other chums, I’m not the only one thinking seriously about next year. If I’m back at some of these events, it will be with a different offer.

The future seems to point to a more agile, smaller model where every item on the stand has to earn its place, pitch fees and staff costs are reduced, set up and breakdown times shorter and inventory strictly controlled.

I could be wrong, but I wonder if the days of the mobile mega-store aren’t over, seriously impacted by the internet. It works differently for all of us, but imagine the effect that would have on the look of the shows alone ... then think about what the reduced offer will do to audience appeal.

With the dry summer already raising this winter’s costs of feeding horses, and increasing uncertainty engendered by Brexit, the disposable incomes of most of the possible punters look like being lower still next year. Maybe it’s time to stop pretending that Blenners is Badders - and reflect that reality in the ticket prices and the stand fees.

WiFi crisis

One last thing - there’s still time to have your say to BETA (British Equestrian Trade Association) and BE (British Eventing) who are consulting on how best to improve things via dialogue between organisers and traders. I’ve already said my bit, but I’m going back for a second bite of the cherry after the Blenners WiFigate crisis.

Everything was fine until Saturday morning. At first, I thought it was just my kit playing up but then it all worked again after lunch and through Sunday. Talking about it to other chums was when I realised it was probably down to bandwidth; Saturday morning was the busiest trading time, and the infrastructure couldn’t cope.

Nowadays, decent WiFi is as essential to an event as water. It’s the lifeblood of trading. We aren’t posting on Facebook (not personal stuff anyway) or laughing at Trump’s tweets - we’re trying to earn a living. You wouldn’t supply all the event’s water through a single half inch hose; so don’t try the equivalent with the WiFi.

Time to SORN the truck and start wrapping unsold stock as surprise Christmas presents for the least favourite cousins...




17th September, 2018.

New training course is proving to be a popular British export.

Would-be saddle fitters in New Zealand have welcomed a course being run by the British Equestrian Trade Association (BETA) for the first time in the country.

Most places have already been snapped up for the Introduction to the Principles of Saddle Fitting, says BETA which developed the course with the Society of Master Saddlers (SMS).

The two-day course is at Ambury Park (Manukau), Auckland, over the weekend 24/25 November.

“Although not a qualification itself, it provides the perfect opportunity for those wishing to take the first steps to becoming a saddle fitter,” said BETA’s executive director Claire Williams.

“The course has only ever been available in the UK and US, and delegates from the southern hemisphere have previously had to travel over to us. I’m excited we can take the course over to them.”

The course is designed for people who wish to become SMS qualified saddle fitters including physiotherapists, coaches and other equine professionals.

Course presenters will be SMS trained saddle fitters Nikki Newcombe, David Jones-Parry and Ian and Dee Silman. New Zealand vet and chiropractor Deb Prattley will give a lecture.

More details from Claire Williams, email or telephone +44 (0)1937 587062.


17th September, 2018.

This Friday sees an important deadline for BETA International exhibitors.

BETA International organisers are urging companies that would like a high-profile presence at the 2019 show to ensure they meet its 10% deposit deadline of Friday 21 September, when the first round of stand allocation gets under way.

“With the interest received to date, we are confident that BETA International 2019 is going to be another exceptionally strong show,” said sales manager James Palmer. “Hitting the deadline puts companies first in line when it comes to securing the most sought-after locations in our three large halls. It really is a case of the sooner you book, the better your options. There are some great opportunities available, with stands from as little as £1,068 plus VAT.”

Companies wishing to find out more about exhibiting at the trade fair can contact James for further information on +44 (0)1937 582111 or email They can also book direct here. BETA International is highly regarded across the globe as the ultimate trade buying and business event for the equestrian, country clothing, outdoor and pet products sectors. The 2019 show will take place at the NEC, Birmingham, from 20 to 22 January.


14th September, 2018.

BETA International unveils a new feature area for 2019.

The Spotlight is BETA International’s new entertainment and education feature.

With a stage and large digital screens, The Spotlight will host celebrity interviews, the Talking Business debate with Alastair Stewart, seminars, award presentations, teach-ins and the Fashion Show.

Riding hat manufacturer Charles Owen is The Spotlight’s sponsor.

“We are proud to remain an integral part of the educational aspect of BETA International,” said Charles Owen chairman Roy Burek. “The Spotlight is an opportunity to showcase the latest in the equestrian industry and we are looking forward to sponsoring this innovative new part of the trade fair.”

BETA International organiser Claire Thomas added: “I’m confident that The Spotlight will be a big hit with many of our visitors and exhibitors, and play an important role in the trade fair as it continues to develop and move forward.”

There will be activity in The Spotlight during each of the show’s three days (20 – 22 January). With plenty of free seating, everyone at BETA International is welcome to come along and watch.

BETA International 2019 is at the NEC, Birmingham. For more details, visit


10th September, 2018.

A grooming tool and a jacket made from recycled plastic bottles are winners at last week’s spoga trade fair.

spoga horse autumn 2018, held in Cologne, Germany on 2 – 4 September, concluded with a product awards ceremony.

Winners were decided by a judging jury plus visitor voting.

In the Innovations, Voss Faible won with the Gentle Groomer. The tool can help groom horses’ legs and heads when they’re moulting.

Second place went to Freejump’s SPUR'ONE spurs. A flexible branch means they adapt to fit differently shaped and sized boots.

The Sustainability/Corporate Social Responsibility category saw a win for MM Cosmetic’s ‘Zedan goes natural’ line. Runner-up was Kingsland with its Kingsland Earth eco-friendly clothing collection; 11 plastic bottles are recycled to make a jacket.

The Sales Concepts award also went to MM Cosmetic Zedan for its equine care range. While HKM Sports Equipment impressed the jury with TV advertising that supports its stockists.


10th September, 2018.

Commercial application is among the criteria being considered by the judging panel.

The first round of judging is underway for the 2018 BETA Equine Thesis of the Year Award.

The British Equestrian Trade Association’s (BETA) annual accolade highlights undergraduate research. The judges are looking for commercial relevant of students’ work among other criteria.

Twelve academic institutions – Aberystwyth University, Askham Bryan College, Bishop Burton College, Harper Adams University College, Hartpury College, Myerscough College, Reaseheath College, Sparsholt College, Royal Veterinary College, University of Limerick, Warwickshire College (Moreton Morrell Centre) and Writtle University College – have each entered one undergraduate thesis.

These are now being considered by a panel of preliminary judges as part of a two-tier judging process to select the finalists.

Students whose dissertations are selected will be called to present their work to a second round of judges, along with members of the public and academic community, at the De Vere Staverton Estate Hotel, near Daventry, Northamptonshire, on Sunday 28 October.

The winner and runner-up will be presented with awards and cash prizes.

“Student undergraduate research generates a huge amount of knowledge which, thanks to this award, is now brought to the attention of the wider equestrian industry,” said BETA executive director Claire Williams.

Last year’s BETA Equine Thesis of the Year was by Reaseheath College student Louise Swindells for her dissertation An Investigation into the Efficacy of Steaming Hay for Horses.


10th September, 2018.

This equestrian company will be rooting for a record number of sponsored riders as the World Equestrian Games (WEG) get underway this week.

Charles Owen and Airowear are heading to Tryon in the USA this week as the FEI World Equestrian Games (WEG) opens.

The Wrexham based manufacturer will be cheering on its sponsored riders across the multi-discipline championships which open tomorrow (11 September).

Charles Owen also has a tradestand at the event which runs until 23 September.

“We’re looking forward to providing professional fittings for riders from around the globe throughout the World Equestrian Games,” said chairman Roy Burek.

“Showcasing the latest innovations in safety at such a venue is an honour and we are proud to play a part in creating a safer world for riders of all levels, whether they are representing their country or hacking out on their favourite horse.”

Charles Owen sponsored riders in contention for world championships medals are show jumping’s Laura Kraut (USA), Cian O’Connor (Ireland), Harrie Smolders (Holland), Malin Baryard Johnsson (Sweden) and William Funnell (Great Britain).

In eventing, Phillip Dutton, Lauren Kieffer, Boyd Martin and Lynn Symansky (US), Ros Canter (Great Britain), Sam Watson and Padraig McCarthy (Ireland), Sandra Auffarth (Germany), Hawley Bennett-Awad (Canada) and Sara Algotsson Ostholt (Sweden).

The Charles Owen team will be supporting British dressage star Charlotte Dujardin and American carriage driver Chester Weber too.


4th September, 2018.

Retailers can still sell the current standard which will be accepted by British equestrian ruling bodies for at least five years.

The BETA 2018 Body Protector Standard has been approved.

The new standard, offering three levels of protection, is due for release to the market on 1 October.

The British Equestrian Trade Association (BETA), which devised and monitors the standard, has been working with body protector manufacturers to ensure their garments comply.

But there’s no need to stop selling or wearing body protectors meeting the current standard, retailers and riders have been reassured. Transition to the new standard will be gradual.

“Despite this introduction [of the 2018 standard], BETA 2009 Level 3 body protector labels will continue to be accepted by all British disciplines and riding organisations,” said Claire Williams, executive director of BETA.

“And garments bearing this standard can still be worn for the foreseeable future – and for at least the next five to six years.


3rd September, 2018.

The deal “strengthens and complements our existing portfolio of products” says the new owner.

Agrihealth has acquired the business of Mackey Equestrian. The new arrangement became effective on Saturday (1st September).

Based in Monaghan, Ulster, Agrihealth has distributed animal health, veterinary and equestrian products in Ireland and the UK for more than 50 years.

Mackey Equestrian, founded by Ernest and Samantha Mackey in Donard, Co Wicklow, has been involved in equestrian wholesaling in Ireland for almost three decades.

Among the brands Mackey Equestrian represents are Mackey, Equi-Sential, Carr and Day and Martin, Charles Owen, SSG Gloves, Racesafe and Stubbs.

According to Sean Guinan, managing director of Agrihealth, the development “strengthens and complements our existing portfolio of products and our footprint in the equestrian space in Ireland, the UK and beyond.”

The integration of Agrihealth and Mackey Equestrian will be happening over the next few months, says a spokesman. “But for the moment the business will be conducted as normal from Mackey Equestrian.”

Agrihealth already distributes brands such as leovet, Liveryman and Fenceman to equestrian retailers.


3rd September, 2018.

This month’s ETN/Society of Master Saddlers (SMS) Saddle Fitter of the Month hails from Scotland.

Gillian Bell of Ayrshire based Jet Set Saddlery has been named ETN/SMS Saddle Fitter of the Month for September.

The award recognises those whose good practise is making a difference to horses, riders and the saddlery industry.

Gillian was nominated by Jennifer Deane of Weatherbeeta who says: “Gillian is incredibly passionate about her trade, and genuinely interested in her own professional development.

“Whether she’s working with high profile brands or the smallest and trickiest of ponies, she always brings a wealth of knowledge and commitment to her day. She is a credit to her trade.”

Working to improve horse and rider partnerships is important to Gillian who says: “The best feeling in my job is fitting a horse that has not been reaching its full potential - and seeing a smiling rider and a contented horse able to achieve the best result for them both.”

Read more about Gillian Bell in the September issue of ETN.

• How to nominate for the ETN/SMS Saddle Fitter of the Month

The trade – saddle manufacturers, distributors and retailer plus relevant equine professionals – are invited to nominate saddle fitters they feel deserve to be named ETN/SMS 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 and tell us why this person deserves to be put in the spotlight. Please include the saddle fitter’s name and business name too.