A saddler — who has spent years promoting the importance of saddle fitting — was presented with the Lifetime Achievement Award at the British Equestrian Trade Association (BETA) International trade fair on Monday (23 February).

Ken Lyndon-Dykes told H&H he burst into tears when he heard he would be receiving the award.

“It was such a surprise. To be recognised by your peers is the greatest honour,” he added.

Mr Lyndon-Dykes joined the equestrian trade by accident after he broke his back in a plane crash at the 1972 British Air Race. Afterwards he was told he would probably be confined to a wheelchair for the rest of his life.

Mr Lyndon-Dykes had been working in the publishing industry, but now had to rethink his future career. Horses had always been a big part of his life — in his late teens he had given up his place at Oxford to run a trekking centre in Wales — so he decided to go back to the equestrian world and started selling saddles by mail order.

In 1973 Ken opened his first equestrian retail outlet, building it up into a chain of 56 shops. He also had shops within major stores including Lillywhites, Swaine Adeney Brigg and Millets.

The business was sold in 1999 to the board of directors, but Ken continued in saddlery setting up Kent-based Saddleworld.

After Mr Lyndon-Dykes’s accident, he developed his own rehabilitation programme and four years later was riding again and eventing at national and international level.

In his early days in the saddlery industry Ken became aware of the deficiencies in saddle fitting, believing not enough consideration was given to the welfare of the horse.

He helped the Society of Master Saddlers (SMS) develop its saddle-fitting qualifications and courses, wrote many books on the subject and lectured widely to promote its importance.

“Ken has made a great contribution to the equestrian industry for many years, promoting the importance of saddle fitting and playing an influential role in both BETA and the SMS,” said a BETA spokesman.