When Lucy Seeley was teaching her daughter to ride, she really struggled to hold onto her securely trying to stabilise her in the saddle. With this issue facing lots of parents or instructors teaching very young children or anyone with disabilities to ride, Lucy set to work in creating a product that would help with this problem.
The Equihandee was born and has now grown into a successful equestrian business. Sam Hobden from Haynet recently caught up with Lucy to find out more about the personality behind this super innovative business:
You are very passionate about horses and ponies. Were you brought up in this environment as a child?
No not at all, my parents didn’t have a lot of money whilst I was growing up so lessons were out of the question, I found a chap at the end of my road who had a small yard and at a very early age helped out on the yard, as I got older I was always the first one to sit on a horse that was being backed, I always remember that adrenaline pumped feeling of laying over their back and then eventually slowly swinging your leg over their back not knowing if you were about to be catapulted back out of the saddle at great speed.
What was your childhood ambition? Was it to always work in the equestrian world?
I knew from an early age I had a passion for horses but I only ever worked part time on a friend’s yard mucking out etc. I always said I wanted to be a vet but I don’t have the stomach for that and I would probably spend my whole time in tears when having to deal with animals hurt or worse. I always worked full time in an office environment and I always loved my work and I still do when I’m in the office working on Equihandee.
In recent years you have set up your own equestrian company. What made you step into this area of the business?
I never planned on setting up a business, I had always worked for others, but I had an issue and created a product that resolved that issue for my own daughter. It was as simple as that. I never dreamed it would go on to help many young and disabled children. If someone told me 4 years ago I would have my own business I would have told them they were mad.
Tell us about Equihandee and its vision. What are you particularly proud of with your company?
There are so many things I am proud of as Equihandee was initially created to keep my own daughter safe. I never dreamed it would go on and help children with disabilities. I have recently been sent videos of a young disabled girl called Sarah in Austria, the Equihandee Freedom helps her with her walking, it allows her to groom the ponies as well as ride them, my product has helped Sarah enjoy things we all take for granted. Watching the video brings a tear to my eye as she is having such a great time.
What have been the triumphs and challenges working within this area of the equestrian industry?
I think the biggest challenge is getting people to accept its ok to not want your child to fall off and hurt themselves. As a child myself it was part of riding horses that you were going to fall off and get hurt. I have so many people say to me ‘I wish Equihandee was around when my kids were young’.
We are all safety mad nowadays so why wouldn’t you want that for your child in the saddle? I have 2 triumphs the first one was bagging myself a fabulous manufacturer they just get me and know what I want. The second is helping children with disabilities, to see these children sit on ponies safely as part of their therapy and have the biggest smile ever makes my job worth while.
What would be your key advice for a school leaver that wanted to work in the equestrian industry?
Working in the equestrian industry will always be hard work, so you need to have that passion. If the passion is there then you will succeed but be prepared to work hard and never give up.
Let’s give a shout out for your product! Why should horse/pony owners consider investing in an Equihandee?
Equihandee products are manufactured in the UK by a blue chip Safety Harness Company, all products are weight tested so you can be assured of a high quality product. There are so many benefits to using Equihandee, it enables the rider to grow core strength, balance and confidence whilst in the saddle.
It also alleviates the need for a second helper as Equihandee enables you to hold your rider and lead the pony at the same time. The Equihandee Harness is fully adjustable and fits a 2 to a 10 year old. The Equihandee Freedom was created for children with Autism/Sensory needs or if you just fancy a little more cushioning, it is also fully adjustable and fits a 4 to a 12 year old.
There is a lovely video on Equihandee Facebook of a disabled girl called Sarah, she takes her Equihandee Freedom home to practice her walking, and it also enables her to be supported whilst she grooms the ponies, things we all take for granted.
What are your future plans for Equihandee?
The plans will always be to keep young and disabled riders safe in the saddle, I have a great manufacturer who brings my dreams to reality. My second and third products were created from speaking with others in the equine world who had issues, so I created products to resolve these issues, I am always on the lookout to help create something for young and disabled riders, we get so much out of spending time with our equines especially when disabled riders use it for therapy.
On a day off, where would we find you?
Either at the yard with the horses or walking the dogs somewhere, you just cannot beat these kind of days, we recently spent a whole weekend preparing for the winter, getting our hay in, ensuring it was covered, repairing fencing, painting our new field shelters etc, I loved every minute of it, I was shattered by the end of it but it was time well spent.
Where do you hope to be in ten years’ time?
I love working at Equihandee, I hope I am still doing what I am doing helping young and disabled riders staying safe.
Against the Clock
Bays, Greys or Chestnuts: Greys
Beer or Champagne: Champagne
Sunshine or Snow: Sunshine
Home Counties or Far Away Shores: Home Counties
Spend or Save: Save
Home Cooked or Eating Out: Home cooking
Music or Film: Music
Wellies or Heels: Wellies definitely
Please visit Equihandee: https://equihandee.co.uk/
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