Promotional Feature

THIS year’s BETA (British Equestrian Trade Association) International show saw young and talented apprentices and trainees competing for the top awards in the Society of Master Saddlers’ competitions throughout the three days.

Always a major feature of BETA International, the competitions draw a lot of interest, with visitors able to see quality craftsmanship in the making as the students work at their stations in the Saddlery Pavilion.

As before, the prize-money was donated by The Worshipful Company of Saddlers, with BETA International providing the competition space. After last year’s success, the Society of Master Saddlers again welcomed entries for a class at its National Saddlery Competition finals in February, which were available to view and vote on over the show. This year, the class was for a miniature piece of riding or driving equipment, with the dinky exhibits drawing plenty of attention.

The apprentices and students taking part on Sunday made a cavesson noseband, which had to be completed in under six hours.

Competitors who are training at the Saddlery Training Centre were: Corrin King of S. Milner & Son, Leicestershire; Amy Baldwin of The Saddlers’ Den, Merseyside; Lucy Ellis of The Saddle Man, Shropshire and David Taylor of The Kings Troop RHA.

Corrin King took the top award, with Lucy Ellis claiming second place after the judges — master saddlers Laura Dempsey and Helen Reader — made their deliberations.

“I really enjoy coming to BETA International and taking part in the Society of Master Saddlers’ competition,” said Corrin. “Showcasing our skills is also a very valuable experience.”

Laura Dempsey added: “As ever the standard was very high across all the entries, but the winner stood out for us on all aspects of the workmanship.”

On the Monday, second-year Capel Manor College students Rachel Lok, Anna Roe, Cathal Dooley and Fred Eastwood made a pair of plain reins.

The winner’s award went to Rachel Lok, with Jack Callister as runner up. A new and welcome addition this year was the presentation of the awards on the fashion show stage on the second day.

Judges Laurence Pearman and Emily White were full of praise for the students’ efforts.

“We were both delighted to judge at the competition and the attention to detail that went into producing the reins was excellent,” said Laurence.

On the Tuesday, first year Capel Manor students Signe Dreyer, Andrew Sizer, Jessica Abraham and Grace Willsmer showcased their leather-working talents by making a pair of rein stops.

Judges Catherine Baker and Lisa Hoskins chose Grace Willsmer as their winner, with Signe Dreyer taking second.

Members and officials from The Society of Master Saddlers were on hand in the Saddlery Pavilion throughout the show to answer questions and offer advice about the various courses available and the benefits of being a member.

Hazel Morley of the Society of Master Saddlers said: “The competitions at BETA International are a great way to introduce visitors to the skills being taught to our younger generation of craftsmen and women and as ever proved popular with visitors over the three days. We are really proud to be able to showcase our work as a society.”

Information about the Society of Master Saddlers can be found at www.mastersaddlers.co.uk or by calling 01449 711642.