Equestrian businesses recognised at BETA awards

Equilibrium Products won the UKTI Export Award.
Equilibrium Products won the UKTI Export Award.

Outstanding contributions to the equestrian industry in Britain were marked at last weekend’s  2013 BETA Business Awards in Birmingham.

More than 450 guests enjoyed a champagne reception – complete with balloon modellers – on arrival, and this year’s raffle, in aid of Riding for the Disabled, featured a line-up of exciting prizes. They included a Kate Scurfield hunting print, a case of champagne from BETA, family membership for the Royal lnternational Horse Show and two hospitality tickets for the Queen’s Polo semi-finals at Guards Polo Club. Everyone was in a generous mood and raised £1600 to boost the charity’s coffers.

“The BETA Business Awards are a real high point of the equestrian trade’s year and the standard of achievement is always extremely high,” said BETA executive director Claire Williams. “Everyone who was nominated should feel justifiably proud.”

Award winners were:



Winner: Allen & Page, Thetford, Norfolk

Runner-up: TopSpec Equine, Thirsk, North Yorkshire 

With an increasing amount of feeds and supplements on the market, giving the trade and consumers more choice than ever, BETA wished to highlight the importance of reliable and accessible nutritional advice.

Nominations were invited from retailers and consumers, and the final judging was based on these and mystery callers posing questions designed to challenge each helpline.

One nominator said: “Allen & Page is a fantastic company to deal with. They listen intently to your requirements and give a variety of options and detailed advice on what’s best for your horse.”

A judge added: “I was pleased to receive a pack of information in the post, along with a money-off voucher and samples to make sure the horses likes it before I have to invest in a whole bag!”



Winner: Marilyn Hawley, Agent for Edward Sinclair, Showquest, Kanyon Outdoors and others.

Runner-up: Heather Stephenson, Westgate EFI, Romney Marsh, Kent

This award, presented by Equine Careers, recognises excellence in product knowledge and service to retail customers. Nominations received from retailers were followed by interviews with the finalists.

One nominator said: “She is the most thorough agent around. If you need an agent who will be passionate about your product and make sure your customers know about everything you sell, Marilyn is the person!”

A judge added: “A really good and forward-thinking person to have in our trade. I am sure that she could give a lot of good advice to new people entering the industry.”



Winner: Andrea Leavis, Countrywide Farmers

Runner-up: Julie Walton, Speedgate, Longfield, Kent

This award is given to the retail employee showing initiative, excellence in customer service, good product knowledge and a commitment to retailing.

One nomination stated: “She is passionate about customer service and is always receiving comments on the friendly advice she offers. Andrea also strives to achieve what is best for the  company.” 

A judge concluded: “I would feel happy to leave the shop in her care, knowing that it would be professionally run while I was gone.”



Winner: Bramham International Horse Trials

This award acknowledges the event (at which tradestands are present) that best works with its exhibitors and takes their requirements and views fully into consideration.

Nominators said: “They are the friendliest, most helpful organisers ever and nothing is too much trouble. When there was so much trouble with the weather last year, they helped us on and off the showground in terrible conditions and kept us informed throughout the show. They did not panic and kept everything running very smoothly for us.”



Winner: Trilanco, Poulton-le-Fylde, Lancashire

Runner-up: Shires Equestrian Products, Leominster, Herefordshire

Judged by the retail trade, this award goes to a manufacturer, distributor or wholesaler that offers the best delivery, customer service, product knowledge and awareness of retailer requirements.

Judges and nominators stated: “Their customer service is second to none. They keep you informed of stock availability, delivery is excellent and they send out monthly emails and a newsletter to keep their customers informed of special offers, prices and news.”



This award is divided into four categories – large, medium, small and mail order/Internet retailers. It is presented to those retailers that offer outstanding customer service. Final judging took suppliers’ votes into account, as well as visits by mystery shoppers.


Large Retailer

Winner: Aivly Country Store, Ringwood, Hampshire

Runner-up: Speedgate Enterprises, Longfield, Kent

Nominators and judges agreed: “The staff are so helpful and well informed, and really go out of their way to assist you. The store also has an extensive range of stock.”


Medium Retailer

Winner: Tower Farm, Rugby, Warwickshire

Runner-up: R B Equestrian, Milton Keynes, Buckinghamshire

Nominators and judges agreed: “This is a fantastic family-run business with an excellent range of products.”


Small Retailer

Winner: Alan’s Ark, Ely, Cambridgeshire

Runner-up: Patchetts Equestrian, Watford, Hertfordshire

A judge who was extremely impressed with his shopping experience at Alan’s Ark said: “The level of service was truly exceptional and the shop was obviously a very well-regarded and popular venue. All in all, it was a remarkable experience – Alan’s Ark should run seminars on how to do courteous and helpful service to customers under pressured circumstances.”


Mail Order/Internet Retailer

Winner: Supplement Solutions, Preston, Lancashire

Runner-up: Utterly Horses, Black Notley, Essex

This is award has been won by Supplement  Solutions for the third year in a row. Judges and nominators agreed: “Staff are knowledgable and helpful. There is a huge choice of products and prices are kept as low as possible. The website is easy to navigate and the search facility makes it easy to identify product by type, brand or company.  Service and advice are second to none and delivery is prompt, with that special personal touch.”



Winner: Sophie Wells

This award acknowledges sponsored riders who make the greatest contribution to the trade and work hard for their sponsors. An independent panel of judges selected Sophie Wells as this year’s winner.

She was nominated by Black Country Saddles, which said: “Working with riders that understand sponsorship makes the relationship stronger and Sophie is excellent at talking about the range and our company ethos and philosophy. She represents the brand at the highest level and is always willing to take part in any promotional work and activity that we ask her to do.”



Winner: Equilibrium Products, Chesham, Buckinghamshire.

This award recognises a company that has generated a substantial and sustained increase in export activity over a period of at least three years.

The judges were extremely impressed with the professionalism shown and said: “Equilibrium was driven by a clear set of objectives, which, incidentally, placed equine welfare as the starting point. It showed attention to detail in aspects of business, as well as a recognition of the need to keep learning and adapting, which underpinned its expansion and development.”



Recipient: Stewart Hastie

This award is presented by BETA to mark an outstanding and significant contribution to the equestrian industry over a long period of time. This year, it went to Stewart Hastie, a veterinary surgeon whose work has left its mark in many aspects of the trade. He has written seminal works for equine students and had major input into the training and development of the modern saddle fitter.

Born in Rutherglen, Lanarkshire, in 1922, he went on to graduate from Glasgow University Veterinary School. He moved to Buckingham in 1958 and set up his own practice, specialising in the equine sector. At around this time, he met John McTimoney and began a long-standing relationship with alternative medicine and equine chiropractics.

Stewart has written for publications such as the BHS Veterinary Manual and Horselopaedia: A Complete Guide to Horsecare, as well as conference papers.  He has also appeared as a speaker at the British Equine Veterinary Association’s annual conference and provided years of service to the Society of Master Saddlers as its veterinary consultant.

He continues to be involved in research surrounding the way in which abnormal movement such as lameness affects the functioning of the horse’s back, as well as the application of complementary disciplines in association with chartered physiotherapists, chiropractors and osteopaths.

Stewart has contributed a huge amount to our understanding of the horse in today’s environment. He has been at the forefront of intensive studies carried out on the effects on the horse of saddles and girths using state of the art pressure testing. His past and continuing contribution to the equestrian world should be an inspiration for all of us involved with horses.



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