The cream of the equestrian trade industry was celebrated at the British Equestrian Trade Association (BETA) International trade fair (20-22 February) this weekend.

An awards ceremony to reward those who have made a difference to the industry was held on Sunday (20 February), after the first day of the trade show at the NEC in Birmingham.

TopSpec Equine, based in Thirsk, North Yorkshire won the Haygain nutritional helpline award for the fifth year in a row.

One nominator said: “This helpline goes beyond good, old-fashioned customer service. It offers a very personal service. We have never had such caring people answer our calls. No other company compares.

A judge added: “Try as we might, we could not fault TopSpec!”

Runner up was Allen & Page.

This year’s BETA lifetime achievement went to two luminaries of the saddlery industry Gerald Brown and Michael Williams.

“Highly respected and immensely popular, these two men have each played a key role in shaping the equestrian industry of today,” said a spokesman for BETA.

A member of the Worshipful Company of Saddlers, Michael Williams was in the Household Cavalry before he took up a position as a sales representative for E Jeffries & Sons, of Walsall, in 1974 and has remained with the company for 35 years.

And Gerald Brown has supported the trade for more than 40 years, during which time he was responsible for developing Abbey Saddlery & Crafts and building it up into a thriving and successful business.

Young showjumpers Pippa and Millie Allen were presented with the TSM rider award, acknowledging sponsored riders who make the greatest contribution to the trade.

The pair have been sponsored by clothing company Horsemasters since 2004.

“The girls’ attitude to the sponsorship is a reflection of their personality and commitment to their sport,” said a spokesman for Horsemasters. “Pippa and Millie are perfect ambassadors for us, show jumping and equestrianism as a whole.”

Horseware Ireland won the BETA trade website award for the third time. It was praised for its helpful videos and the way in which it could be used to help with staff training on new products.

The Equestrian Trade News sales representative of the year went to Dave Wright — agent for Sherwood Forest and Carrots UK. Runner-up was Dean Mastouras for Matchmakers International.

The Harry Hall retail employee of the year was Kathryn Martyn, Countrywide Farmers, Taunton, Somerset.

Fly Away won the UKTI export award, recognising a company that has generated a substantial and sustained increase in export activity over a period of at least three years.

Your Horse Live won the Joules equestrian event of the year and the Royal International Horse Show was runner-up.

And the BETA Trade supplier of the year was awarded to Shires Equestrian Products.

“The whole team were found to be friendly, efficient and helpful,” said the judges. “They are great to deal with and very keen to support their customers.” Runner-up was Matchmakers International.

The SEIB retailer of the year awards were divided into four categories for the first time this year. More than 6,000 nominations were made and the winners were as follows:

Large retailer
Winner: Speedgate Enterprises, Longfield, Kent
Runner-up: Ingatestone Saddlery, Ingatestone, Essex

Medium retailer
Winner: R B Equestrian, Milton Keynes, Buckinghamshire
Runner-up: Houghton Equestrian, Heddon-on-the-Wall, Northumberland

Small retailer
Winner: Iron Horse Equestrian Supplies, Doncaster, South Yorkshire
Runner-up: Tower Farm Saddlers, Earls Barton, Northamptonshire

Mail order/internet retailer
Winner: Supplement Solutions, Preston, Lancashire
Runner-up: Robinsons Country Leisure, Ashton-in-Makerfield, Lancashire