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BETA Exhibition 2013

February 25, 2013
Photo by ProVision Photography Ltd

Photo by ProVision Photography Ltd

The British Equestrian Trade Association annual exhibition is a chance for the movers and shakers of the equestrian trade world to catch up on new horsy products and techniques. This year’s exhibition, held from 17th – 19th February at the NEC in Birmingham, saw shop owners, vets, equine physiotherapists and other equestrian professionals flocking to the event. In addition to hundreds of trade stands, featuring merchandise ranging from new clothing ranges, feeds, veterinary supplies and gadgets, there were seminars, fashion shows, demonstrations and appearances by celebrities such as Charlotte Dujardin and Countryfile presenter Ellie Harrison.

Virbac launched their new 3D worming solution, the Society of Master Saddlers demonstrated saddle-making techniques, Charles Owen showed us how to find the perfect-fitting hat, hundreds of exhibitors demonstrated their products, cameras clicked, fashion models strutted, and thousands of visitors had a great day out amid all the action.

Photo by ProVision Photography Ltd

Photo by ProVision Photography Ltd

Here’s my pick of who was there. For further details about the show and more product picks, see Hay-net. For details of next year’s exhibition, to be held on 16th – 18 February 2014 (yep, they’re planning it already), see http://www.beta-int.com.

Silverfeet

A new, all-natural hoof treatment, Silverfeet is a daily hoof dressing effective against thrush and bacterial infections. It contains only natural ingredients – beeswax, vegetable oil, eucalyptus and silver, so it’s safe to use on any horse.

According to company director Rob Fawcett, the silver acts as an anti-bacterial agent by creating a hostile environment where the bacteria can’t thrive. The product’s been independently tested and cleared by the Veterinary Medicines Directorate (V.M.D.), and also helps heal cuts, grazes and cracked heels.

“The product’s been developed in conjunction with farrier John Stanley, and works naturally to promote healthy foot condition – and we’re delighted that it’s being endorsed by many top riders, including Tim Stockdale and Geoff Billington. Although it’s only licensed for veterinary use at the moment, there’s also anecdotal evidence that it helps treat human skin conditions such as eczema and psoriasis,” says Rob. “That’s an area we’re looking into at the moment.”

For more information about Silverfeet and information about stockists, visit their website. Silverfeet is available in four colours, prices start at £12 including postage and packaging.

Photo by ProVision Photography Ltd

Photo by ProVision Photography Ltd

Horseshape

Ever wondered if your horse’s saddle really fits? This new technology from German company horse shape is the high-tech way to make sure. Designed for use by retailers, the operator holds a handset over the horse’s back, where it takes around 1.5 seconds to build up a three dimensional image. The data’s then transmitted to a computer, and the operator can either build up an exact replica of the horse’s back using a mechanical simulator, or send the information to Horseshape who’ll supply a personalised three dimensional template.

According to Horseshape’s Jochen Friedrich, it’s the first fully mobile system on the market, designed to make saddle fitting more accurate than ever.

More information is available from the Horseshape website.

Photo by ProVision Photography Ltd

Photo by ProVision Photography Ltd

Equus

The Equus brand is a new addition to well-established family business Abbey England. Equus is the only range of equestrian rubber products that’s actually manufactured in the UK rather than the Far East, and they offer a unique level of quality.

Jane Kane, Equus Co-ordinator, talked me through the main features.

“Take the overreach boots, for example. The rubber’s thicker, stronger and softer than other brands, offering a longer product life, better elasticity and a boot that won’t stretch out of shape. The high natural rubber content also means a more comfortable fit for your horse.

Our overreach boots are the traditional bell shape, with no Velcro fastening. We’re often asked why we don’t add Velcro, to make them easier to put on – but the fact is, we don’t need to. Lower-quality boots have the Velcro added, as they’re too brittle to stretch over the horse’s foot – but the fastening reduces the protection offer by the boot, and makes them prone to coming off. Our boots easily stretch to slip over the hoof, and they give full protection across the back of the foot.”

Equus have also used their knowhow to come up with the ultimate rubber-covered reins. Unlike standard leather reins, which are stiff and prone to deterioration under the rubber coating, the part of the rein under the Equus rubber sleeve is made from webbing, while only the visible parts are made from leather. The rubber sleeve is also soft, supple and fits comfortably in the rider’s hand.

Equus products are available from all good tack shops; for more information about the products visit Abbey England’s website.

Photo by ProVision Photography Ltd

Photo by ProVision Photography Ltd

A saddler’s life

Emily White, Master Saddler, was showing off her stitching skills at the exhibition, and took five minutes out to talk me through a saddler’s life.

Emily has been a qualified Master Saddler for eighteen months. To quality, students need to serve as an apprentice for four years and work in the trade for at least another three, giving a total qualification time of seven years.

What’s it like being a saddler?

It can be a physically demanding job, although I tend to be based in the workshop rather than going out to customers’ locations. Despite the manual element, there are fewer and fewer boys coming into the industry – I suppose it’s just that girls are more interested in horses.

We have five saddlers in our workshop – there are two main saddle fitters, and two workers who mainly concentrate on bridle work.

We don’t tend to make many saddles from new at our workshop – most of the work we see is repairs, saddle re-flocking and replacement girth straps.

How can riders find a good local saddler?

Visit the website of the Society of Master Saddlers to find a registered saddler. It’s not illegal for people to set themselves up as saddlers if they’re not registered, but we strongly recommend that customers choose a qualified professional as they then have the full backing of the society in the event of any problems. We have no legislation over unregistered saddlers, and you could be left with an expensive liability.

What are your top tips for riders?

Keep an eye on your saddle, and ideally get it checked every six months. When you have your saddle checked, be prepared to ride in it for the saddler, otherwise we can’t see how it’s working on the horse – it’s surprising how many people turn up without hats or boots, not expecting to ride.

Photo by ProVision Photography Ltd

Photo by ProVision Photography Ltd

From racing to filming

One of the more unusual exhibitors this year was Equine Productions Ltd, a video company specialising in equine-themed films. The team consists of horse expert and ex-jockey Nathan Horrocks, cameraman Dave James and producer Sam Fleet.

Their current clients include studs, racehorse owners and bloodstock agents, and Nathan’s contacts have made them the go-to company for the production of promotional videos for the racing world.

The filming is done via a variety of techniques, from helmet cameras to give a rider’s view to the ‘heli-cam’, a small, remote controlled device that follows the horses to give an elevated view.

“As the heli-cam is almost silent, the horses don’t seem to mind it,” explained Nathan. “We’ve trialled it with many horses, including racehorses, and none of them react to it – so we can get some really fantastic shots. We’re the only really specialist equestrian video production company in the market, and we’d love to branch out into the worlds of dressage and showjumping worlds. I’d love to produce a ‘rider’s eye’ video round the Badminton cross country jumps, for example, to give people some of the experience of riding such an iconic course.”

For more information about Equine Productions Ltd, visit www.equine-productions.com.

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