British equestrian manufacturer Solution Saddles has received the Queen’s Award for Enterprise in Innovation in a formal presentation made by an official representative of Queen Elizabeth II.
The Smart saddle from Solution Saddles is one of only 10 recipients from Derbyshire in the past 10 years, and the award was presented to designer Dr Anne Bondi by Elizabeth Fothergill CBE, HM Lord-Lieutenant of Derbyshire, at the Van Dyk Hotel.
The Queen’s Awards for Enterprise are the most prestigious business awards in Britain, with winning businesses able to use the esteemed Queen’s Awards emblem for the next five years.
Representatives from a wide range of stakeholders within the British equestrian industry, including manufacturers, saddle fitters, trade suppliers and riders, joined together with local dignitaries to mark the occasion late last month, which was a remarkable milestone for Great British saddlery design.
The Smart can be adapted to fit different horses and allows for changes in shape through the season. It is designed to flex with the horse through the stride cycle. It was designed with the aid of 3D scanning, pressure mapping systems, and CAD modelling in order to design a saddle that offered dynamic flexibility to both horse and rider, and thus avoiding saddle fit issues that can lead to behavioural problems and poor performance. Technical aspects of the saddle are protected by a family of five patents.
Bondi said that when she and her husband founded the company in 2006, they soon found that innovators were not always universally welcomed. “Innovation means change, and that is not always a comfortable place for a largely traditional and often rather conservative equine industry.”
Solution Saddles Managing Director Charlotte Berridge said the team had been overwhelmed by the positive response from the industry. “We will continue to grow the success of the Smart saddle range, both in the UK and internationally.”
The Derbyshire-based business employs 12 members of staff at its base near Worksop, with more than 20 approved saddle fitters supplying the Smart saddle range to horse owners across Britain and overseas.
• Veterinary imaging company Hallmarq received an Innovation award for the South East, for its 1.5T high field MRI developed specifically for the small animal veterinary market. It was previously a recipient of the Queen’s Award for Innovation and International Trade in 2015 for its standing equine MRI.