A young female entrepreneur, who set up a business selling model horses after leaving school at the age of 16, has been shortlisted for the T-Mobile and Sunday Express Women Mean Business Awards.

Rebecca Benfield, 19, from Great Dunmow in Essex, has been involved with horses all her life and has been collecting Breyer models since the age of 12, when she was given one as a present.

“The Breyer horses are extremely realistic, which is probably why they are so popular, and can be a child’s toy or a beautiful model for collectors,” Rebecca told HHO.

Utterly Horses, set up as a mail order company in 2001, has gone from strength to strength and is now the UK’s leading Breyer distributor, with more than 5,000 customers around the world. The business also has a thriving website, which produces around 60% of orders.

“You would be surprised how popular collecting model horses is”, explains Rebecca. “We have collectors aged from 4 to 75, with around 500 people subscribing to our collectors club, which offers special members discounts, a regular newsletter and exclusive member-only competitions.”

When she isn’t busy in the office or attending county shows, Rebecca enjoys riding her two 17.2hh pure-bred Shire horses, Harold (Harry) and Gilbert.

“We got Harry and Gilbert about five years ago, when they were made redundant from Harrods in London. They are really brilliant horses — not ploddy at all. You should see them when we go for gallop on the stubble. They really can shift!”

So is this 19-year-old planning to sit back and enjoy her hard-earned success? Not right now, as she is too busy planning her next business move.

“We have a very close relationship with Breyer in America and are discussing the possibility of them doing a range based on English breeds, as most of the models are of American horses at present. We are also considering branching out with our own range in the future.”

Check out the Breyer range at www.utterlyhorses.com