A saddlery firm from Walsall landed the spoils at the Society of Master Saddlers’ National Saddlery Competition, winning both best in show and top honours in the trade/company saddle category.

Dennis Townsend, of Ryder Saddles, landed the Bruce Emtage Memorial Plate for best in show for his dressage saddle in the open class. The larger knee roll caught the judges’ attention.

“I took me 2 days to make the saddle and all the time you are thinking the craftsmanship has to be to the very highest standard,” said Mr Townsend. “I am delighted the saddle was so well received.”

His colleague at Ryder Saddles, Mike Roper, scooped the trade/company award with his eventing saddle, which also won the Neil McCarraher memorial trophy as “the most attractive and commercially viable” entry in this class.

Apprentice Ellie Tomlinson won 3 classes, and received the Les Coker Millennium Trophy for the best entry by an apprentice for her double bridle in the trainee bridle class.

“I have had a fantastic evening and can’t believe it,” said Ellie, who trains at the Saddlery Training Centre. “To go home with so many awards is brilliant.”

Society of Master Saddlers’ president Helen Dart reported a huge increase in entries and high-level craftsmanship for this year’s renewal.

“The standard of work has been outstanding and without doubt improves year on year,” she said.

“We are the world leaders in saddlery skills and manufacture and this year’s competition really has showcased some excellent work.”

The awards ceremony was held at Saddlers’ Hall, London on 30 January and supported by The Worshipful Company of Saddlers.

Winners:
Master and apprentice: Isobel Russell and Joanna Heard
Trainee bridlework (years 1&2): Amy Murray, Capel Manor College
Trainee bridlework (years 3&4): Ellie Tomlinson, Equestrian World & Saddlery Training Centre (STC)
Trainee Saddle: Anna Bamford, Cirencester Saddlers and STC
Intermediate bridle: Ellie Tomlinson
Special open: Ellie Tomlinson
Small business: Jan Guldborg
Trade/company saddle: Mike Roper, Ryder Saddles
Open harness: Catrien Coppens
Open bridle: Frances Kelly
Open saddle: Dennis Townsend, Ryder Saddles
Side saddle: Tiffany Parkinson, STC
President’s choice: Line Hansen

Trophies:
Neil McCarraher Trophy: Ryder Saddlery
Tony Byrne Memorial Trophy: Christopher Gransbury
Tony Russell Memorial Trophy: Catrien Coppens
Alf Batchelor Memorial Trophy: Frances Kelly
Side Saddle Association Trophy: Tiffany Parkinson
Les Coker Millennium Trophy: Ellie Tomlinson
Judge’s Special Award: Line Hansen
Bruce Emtage Memorial Plate: Dennis Townsend