Chatting A Bit

Haynet’s Chatting A Bit series interviews personalities from the equestrian, canine and countryside community.

We feel passionate about highlighting the super riders and rural businesses that are out there together with giving them a platform for our readers to get to know them better.

So grab yourself a cuppa and take a read of these fab interviews!

Chatting A Bit with Beth Hobden Eventing

Passion for horses and ponies always seem to start in childhood with many forging dreams of competing at the highest level. Eleven year old Beth Hobden has not only these dreams but the guts and determination to be a rider to watch for the future. I recently caught up with Beth, Chatting A Bit about her life with her beloved ponies and what her future holds in equestrian sport: Tell us about your first experiences riding ponies?My first pony was a section A bay mare who was 12.2 and called Heavenly. She taught me the basics with walking, trotting, and cantering. Heavenly was not a cuddly mare and when trying to do her girth up she would always try and give you a nudge and a nibble. But she was a little superstar! I did my first one-day event on Heavenly, but as we walked the X Country coarse mum warned me that I would probably fall off at the small hay bale jump. She told me to ride at it hard. But mum was right…. she stopped and I ended up on the floor with Heavenly started eating the hay. Another thing I remember was taking Heavenly out hunting. This was before I had started eventing and before I had conquered the steering! I didn’t manage to steer the jump and ended up riding on the quad bike to try and catch my horse. What made you fall in love with all things equestrian?We moved on the farm when I was seven years old and it was at that point we decided that having a pony was a good idea. It turned out to be the best decision I’ve ever made!! Mum had already had experience with ponies and horses when she was younger, as she had a career in racing. I think deep down she really wanted me to race but instead, I found my passion for eventing and just absolutely love the equestrian world.  You have had some lovely ponies over the last few years, tell us about them and who is your favourite?I really cannot say who my favourite pony is! But if I had to pick one, it would be the legend we call Wonder Pony AKA Charlie. He arrived after Heavenly and taught me how to do everything else I needed to know. We have won sashes, trophies and ribbons galore. He is now at a loan home teaching another little girl what he has me and is being treated like a king!! I also have three other ponies, two of which are grey 14.2 Connemara ponies. Liam (Loopy) bucks me off a lot! He is just different and gets very excited. Ben (Bonkers) just likes to go everywhere flat out at a hundred miles per hour. Finally, the newest member of the family is Miami (Mega) a Bay 14.2 Irish Sports Pony. She had done lots of showjumping but had never been evented. She went out recently to Borde Hill BE 80, being her first One Day Event and my first BE. We came 8th which I was so pleased with, so I’m really looking forward to whatever the future brings with her. You love eventing, what is the best part of the sport?It has to be the cross country. Just the thrill of hearing the words “3,2,1 and GO!!’ as you approach the first fence is just great! What are your strengths in competing but your weaknesses too?My strength is mainly my flatwork. I know some people find it boring but the key to eventing is to get a good dressage score and then have a double clear! It takes effort and a lot of hard work to get a good score but in my head, a test can never be perfect. My best ever score was at Borde Hill unaffiliated, two years ago when we received the score of 19. I was mainly competing with adults, so I was very proud with that result. My weakest point is the showjumping but we are working on that bit… With 2020 being a year of hardly competing, how have you kept your horses training through lockdown?2020 has been very disappointing as now I’m in my twelfth year but still eleven years old until the 30th December. British Eventing unfortunately was paused but is now restarting again but we have missed half the season. Training wise we are very privileged to live on a farm and have woods we are able to hack in.  What are your hopes for competing in 2021?We would love to qualify with all of the ponies but we would really like to get to Burghley as they are now doing a BE 80!! What are your plans when you leave school? Do you want to work with horses? I would love to go to college to do Equine Studies, then hopefully have a livery yard full of other people’s event horses that I am able to compete and ride around Badminton!! What are your plans for your future of riding and competing horses?? My ultimate dream is to get to Badminton Horse Trials but my goal is Pony Europeans. Who is your inspiration in the Equestrian world? My real idol has to be Oliver Townsend. I absolutely adore his flea-bitten grey Ballaghmor Class (I’m obsessed with grey horses). We went to watch Badminton last year and it was incredible to watch Oliver come in second place with a total of 27.1! Follow Beth Hobden Eventing on Facebook Follow Beth on Instagram

Chatting A Bit with Becky Wren from Country Bumpkin Chic

With the Coronvirus situation, many events have cancelled with 2020 being best remembered as the year we stayed at home. A difficult decision was made by judges Samantha Hobden from Haynet and Ashley Rossiter from MirrerMe PR to cancel the 2020 Countryside Blogger of the Year Award. At the time judging would have commenced, many of the rural blogging community were feeling the impact of the Covid situation and it felt the right decision to postpone the awards until next year. This week, the Countryside Blogger of the Year Awards would have been held online. We wanted to recognise last year’s worthy winner, Becky Wren from Country Bumpkin Chic and see how life has been since she won the title in 2019! Thank you Becky for letting Haynet quiz you today! So let’s start from the beginning. Your passion and love for an active rural life come through strongly with your blog writing. Did you grow up in this environment as a child? Thanks for having me on the blog! I’m very lucky to have grown up in the beautiful Dorset countryside, in a small village with my parents & horses. We’re also only a short 20 minute drive away from the sea – so the best of both worlds really. I did spend 3 years in Bristol for university, so I’m not a complete country bumpkin, however, I must admit city life came as quite a shock to the system. I also spent a very short stint living in the French Alps as a ski rep which was an amazing experience & gave me the taste for adventure. Tell us about your work career. How does your work life fit in with horses and life in the country? I currently work in Digital Marketing for Screwfix who are based in Somerset, however, due to the current Covid situation & like many people I’m now working from home off my kitchen table. Throughout my career, I’ve had roles in marketing, PR, communications & digital. I’ve worked on some amazing projects from opening new stores in Paris for New Look through to touring the UK for a football event at stores kicked off by TV personality Chris Kamara aka Kammy. Fortunately, Screwfix are very understanding about my passion for horses & competing. I’m lucky I get to ride them either before I start work at 8am or ride/train after work from 4.30 pm. They’re really supportive of my writing/blogging as well & were huge supporters of when I was nominated for the Countryside Blogger of the Year Award in 2019 & championing the blog. I’ve even recently become a Life at Screwfix ambassador which is fun to help promote the culture of the brand. We will come onto later about your award winning blog Country Bumpkin Chic but what made you start writing about your life? A job role change whilst working at New Look from Brand Marketing to Internal Comms spurred me on to write. I had enrolled on a dressmaking course & started to share my creative projects through a blog  – I thought I was going to be the next Cath Kidston. Sadly, I didn’t have the patience to do the fiddly sewing bits. Although I’m a dab hand at making a shopper bag or bunting. The blog was very low key back then, & I wrote for me.  I’d share the blog post to Facebook & enjoy seeing friend’s reactions to my latest creations or recipes. Over time it developed into product, restaurant & music reviews. I was a big Indie music fan & attended a lot of gigs, so would review new music & eventually started interviewing interesting folk. During the last few years, I’ve started to focus my energy on some of the other things I’m passionate about in life which ranges from life in Dorset, equestrian & supporting small country/equestrian brands. If someone Is thinking of starting to write a blog particularly focusing on equestrian and countryside life, what would be your key piece of advice on how to start? Really think about the purpose of your blog & who you’re aiming it at. A top tip from my internal comms days is to think about your Who, What, Where & Why: Who – is your target audience? What – is it all about, what’s the story hook Where – will you publish your content & what platform will you use to share it Why – should someone read your blog – give them a reason to click through With these unprecedented times with the Covid-19 situation how has this affected you personally? Has it been a tough few months or have you enjoyed this change that we have all had to deal with? I worked throughout the situation. It was a little stressful as my role changed overnight into supporting with crisis communication on the website, whilst getting used to my new working from home environment on the kitchen table. However, I was very lucky to be able to continue to ride throughout & keep the horses brains & fitness ticking over. It also kept me sane! From a blogging point of view, I became more creative & used some of the down time to work on a new logo & launch a blog newsletter called Country Bumpkin Chic Chats – which I wouldn’t have had time to think about during normal life. The thing I missed the most is seeing friends & giving them a big hug. Equestrian life is a strong passion of yours. Tell us about your riding and the horses that have been a huge part of your life too. Growing up with a horsey mum who evented competitively up to Intermediate level meant I had the bug from a young age. I first started competing in affiliated eventing at 15 & have been doing so for 20+ years. We’ve had mixed results over the years, however, highlights include being selected to represent the south west at what was then JRNs, & compete at 1.25m in BSJA – I was pretty fearless in my late teens and early twenties. Today we have two beautiful Irish Sport Horses – 17-year-old Barley aka Red Sky Diamond & competing at Novice level this autumn and cheeky 7 year old Leo aka MBF Online who will compete up to BE 100 this season. I feel incredibly lucky to have horses in my life & pinch myself most days. Eventing for me is my escapism & is a real family affair. I’m not quite sure what I do without horses in my life. Maybe have a tidy house! I’m sure most readers will know that you are the winner of the Countryside Blogger of the Year 2019, and a well deserved one too! How has winning the award affected your blog writing and engagement over the last twelve months? That was very surreal winning the award in 2019. Having the recognition that my blog/writing was good enough to win was a highlight & for so many people to support it during the voting stage meant a lot. It’s definitely given me the confidence to take things to the next level & give the blog more of a professional look. I’ve worked with Alice Rose & Co on new branding & set up a newsletter ‘Country Bumpkin Chic Chats’ which is a spin-off of the blog – featuring latest blog posts, what I’m loving from Netflix series to new products & a sneak peek at what might be coming up. During Covid I wanted to do my bit & help support smaller country & equestrian brands so launched Country Bumpkin Chic Chats – a series of interviews with brands & interesting folk from Emma Warren of Dimpsey Glamping, Victoria Jenner of Stitched Equestrian through to Nicky Pennie of Be Your Best Yet. There are some amazingly talented ladies out there in business & I feel honoured to have featured them on the blog. Winning the award was also a great platform to get involved in some exciting projects including being on the panel for digital marketing agency Key Digital’s Unlock event talking about blogging & being interviewed by my local radio station Keep 106. I was also given the priceless opportunity to cover Olympia for the day on behalf of the Countryside Blog Award & Haynet – which was an amazing experience. What are your future plans with Country Bumpkin Chic? I’ve achieved a lot of my goals already this year with the new look & feel, launching the newsletter & Country Bumpkin Chic Chats to blog series. I’d love to develop the newsletter more & give something back to subscribers – maybe top tips on blogging. I also love interviewing people, & have a few eventers I’d like to do something fun with. I’m always keen to do things a bit differently to other bloggers in my field & believe it’s important to stand out from the crowd – so watch this space. On a day off, where would we find you? Typically, you’ll find me training or competing horses. Although a perfect non horsey day off would be going SUPing or surfing with friends, followed by good food, cider & watching the sunset. Where do you hope be in ten years’ time? Wow, that seems a long way away!! What ever I’m doing work wise, it will probably be communications, marketing or digital based as those are the areas that get me excited & get out of bed every day. Blog wise I’d love to work with rural & equestrian businesses & get paid for what I do, although it’s a very crowded market & a tough one to crack. Equestrian wise I’d love to have competed at an international & abroad, even if it’s taking the horses back to their home country of Ireland. Against the Clock  Gin or Champagne: I’m actually more of a cider gal, but if I had to choose it would be a flavoured G&T. Cheese or Chocolate: Tough one – as I probably eat a bit of both every day. Chocolate though is a winner for any mood. Sunshine or Snow: With the recent heatwave, I’d do anything to go skiing in the mountains, although I love adventure in the sunshine & finding remote beaches. Home Counties or Far Away Shores: At heart, I’m a country gal, although you can’t beat a bit of travel for the soul. Spend or Save: I’m a thrifty at heart, but a sucker for clever marketing. Home Cooked or Eating Out: After spending the last 5 months cooking for myself, I’m definitely into eating out. Music or Film: My Alexa has been my lifesaver keeping me going throughout the day with music, Radio 1 & podcasts. Wellies or Heels: Wellies over heels any day. Please visit Becky’s award winning blog Country Bumpkin Chic Follow on Facebook Find her on Instagram

Chatting A Bit with Jane Badger

Being a freelance writer, editor, proof reader and publisher, Jane Badger’s passion for equestrian books started early in life. With her recent book Heroines on Horseback (2019), writing the world’s largest website on equine literature and starting her own publishing company bringing pony classics back into print, Jane is one very busy lady! Sam Hobden from Haynet recently caught up with Jane to find out more about this lovely equestrian writer: What were your childhood ambitions – was it to always work in the writing industry and be an author? My childhood ambitions were a) to be a vet (gave this up when I realised I really didn’t like the sight of blood, though I have toughened up since) and  b) to be a showjumper, which died a death as my parents were absolutely not keen, and not having a pony did mean that ambition was a tad tricky to achieve. What would be your best advice to a school leaver who is thinking of making writing or publishing their career?  Be prepared to learn everything you can, and persevere. There’s no shame in doing other things to keep body and soul together while you’re working on achieving your ambition.  People don’t always get into either writing or publishing via conventional means these days. Not everyone can be an intern. I built up my profile first through blogging, my website and social media, and then took a sideways step into publishing.  I’m an advanced professional member of the Chartered Institute of Editors and Proofreaders, and that’s a help. Lots of publishers and authors work directly with freelancers these days. Tell us all about Jane Badger Books. Jane Badger Books is dedicated to bringing back classic pony fiction. While I was a bookseller, I was very aware that there were a lot of books out there that people remembered from their childhoods, or had never read and really wanted to. These books were either impossible to find, or really expensive when you did. The whole idea of Jane Badger Books is to make those books accessible to people, and to introduce people to classic pony fiction they may not have heard of. Six Ponies, by Josephine Pullein-Thompson, for example, has instruction in it that’s just as relevant today, but it’s welded into the story so well, you don’t realise you’re learning. When I was researching my book on the pony book, Heroines on Horseback, one of my interviewees told me that she’d taken what she’d learned in Six Ponies into the whole of her equestrian life as an instructor.  Six Ponies also has gorgeous illustrations by Anne Bullen. I have done paperback editions of some of the books, which have all the original illustrations – the modern paperbacks often had both text and illustrations cut so it’s really satisfying to be able to get the books out as the authors intended. What have been the triumphs and challenges of running your own business, particularly selling books which you have in the past? Selling books: I did love the book hunting and buying element, though that was always laced with worry because you’re never quite sure who you’re going to meet. I once arranged to meet someone in a supermarket car park to buy books, and I could see from the expression on the seller’s face when we met that it was just as much a relief to her as to me when we both turned out to be harmless! I always used to make sure the family knew where I was going and when I’d be back, but I always survived. There was one time I had a 3-hour drive to get some books and was absolutely desperate for the loo when I arrived. It turned out the house wasn’t lived in, and the water was turned off. I had to get back in the car and drive out to find a suitable field. And hedge. It was a part of the country where hedges were few. And then there were the books that got away: it’s always very tempting to keep books yourself, but that is no way to make money, so every year I would allow myself to pick one plum from stock. One year, I’d bought the J A Allan reprint of Stubbs’ Anatomy of the Horse, and wildly overpaid for it in my huge excitement to get my paws on one. Which is not a help to your profit margins –  I was very torn. It sold. I’ve regretted it ever since. Finding rare books was always exciting. I found two copies, with dustjackets, of Primrose Cumming’s Silver Snaffles in a junk shop while I was on holiday, and was so overcome I had to hide behind a door and do some deep breathing before I went and paid.  As for publishing, it’s always good when the books sell, and when people enjoy them. I think the ones I’ve enjoyed doing most have been Josephine Pullein-Thompson’s Six Ponies, which was hugely cut in the Armada paperback, and it’s good to be able to get the original into people’s hands. And Patience McElwee’s books (Dark Horse, Match Pair and The Merrythoughts) – I loved these, but they were super hard to find, and it’s been great to find a wider audience for them. And it was great to get the Caroline Akrill Showing series out. I used to read Pony Magazine, in which the first story appeared, cover to cover, and I used to count the days until the next one arrived and with it the next instalment of the series. I think one of the biggest challenges is getting the cover right. It turned out that my vision of Perdita, in the very first book I did, Dream of Fair Horses, by Patricia Leitch, was not most people’s so I changed it. Which part of your work do you enjoy the most? I like the actual production (in my other career, I’m a proofreader and editor).  I do also like doing covers, as it’s so different from what I normally do. This has been a learning process, it’s fair to say. And I really love seeing reviews of the books and seeing other people enjoying discovering them. With these unprecedented times with the Covid-19 situation, working within rural business is extremely challenging. Has this been an issue with your work and if so how have you adapted? It’s certainly been a challenge for my proofreading/editing work as all the public sector work dried up almost instantly, and a lot of self-published authors have decided (I think wisely) to sit tight and wait until life is more certain. For the books, I’m not doing new paperbacks at the moment as they need delivery, and as people can get the eBooks, there’s a viable alternative. I’ve also been slaving away getting as many books as possible into the pipeline in case I am ill. This is pretty much done: there are six Josephine Pullein-Thompson titles available on pre-order now. The idea behind this is that my daughter, who will take over the business if necessary, can get her head around the technicalities over a period of months, if necessary. What are your future plans with Jane Badger Books? This year I’ll be completing the release of all Josephine Pullein-Thompson’s Noel and Henry books (One Day Event and Pony Club Camp) and also her Woodbury Pony Club series.  On a day off, where would we find you? Probably in the garden, or with my face stuck in a book. My big ambition this year was to get back on a horse, but that’s going to have to wait! Where do you hope to be in ten years’ time? Alive and hopefully solvent! Against the Clock  Gin or Champagne:  I don’t actually drink, but I do like those herbal extract things that are a sort of substitute for gin. Cheese or Chocolate: cheese, but a close run thing Sunshine or Snow: Sunshine and wind Home Counties or Far Away Shores: If I’m allowed to go elsewhere in the UK, Northumberland or Suffolk, but if not, Western Australia Spend or Save:  Save Book or Kindle: Both. I’m reading an awful lot of library books via Kindle at the moment. Home Cooked or Eating Out: Both Music or Film: Music Please visit: Follow on Facebook Follow on Instagram

Chatting A Bit with From The Ground Up

When Krista Jones beloved horse Buddy was diagnosed with navicular, her first reaction was to feel nothing but heartache and dread as to what his future would hold. But Krista decided to look at alternative ways in keeping him comfortable and decided to pursue barefoot rehabilitation with huge success. With Buddy back competing, Krista decided to help other horse owners with bringing their horses back to riding life and set up her own business From The Ground Up. Sam Hobden from Haynet recently caught up with Krista to find out more about the personality behind this super equestrian business: What were your childhood ambitions – was it to always work in the equestrian industry? I grew up in London and kept my eventing pony on a racing yard on Epsom Downs so I’d often be found up on the gallops and with the jockeys so, naturally, I decided I wanted to become a jockey from the age of 6/7! I then realised that I wanted to eat more than a jockey so re-routed to a Mounted Police Officer but when I was told it was frowned upon to have any riding experience I set my sights on Badminton! My pony had the heart of a lion but he was pretty old, Novice was his limit and I only had room in my heart for one pony so by the time I was a teenager I decided I wanted a corporate career to pay for the ponies and do it for fun. My big dream was to have the horses at home – I petitioned my parents to convert our garage into a stable but funnily enough, they weren’t interested. What would be your best advice to a school leaver who is thinking of having an equine career, particularly in the area of therapy and rehab? In any career, you need to find your USP (unique selling point) and the equine therapy and rehab field is full of lots of very talented people but very few make a decent living from it. You need to know your market, have a true passion for it and see how you can be different. That can be in any way from offering a different type of treatment, diversifying your offering to complementary fields (people, dogs, coaching etc) or focusing on a particular type of horse. Tell us all about From The Ground Up. My own horse, Buddy, was diagnosed with navicular and a whole host of associated issues as a 6yo and I was advised to PTS. He went through a barefoot rehabilitation programme and hasn’t trodden a lame day since. This inspired me to want to help other horses (and owners) who were finding themselves with heartbreaking diagnosis’ and I’ve spent the last 8 years leading up to this point. Our primary goal is to keep horses sound and to educate owners on some early warning signs that can facilitate that. We currently offer sports and rehabilitation massage but will be going live with our on site rehabilitation programme in 2021. This programme will be focused on barefoot rehabilitation for horses with hoof and lower limb issues such as navicular, DDFT and collateral ligament injuries etc.  Although the rehabilitation programme we offer here is purely barefoot, we want to spread the same message to owners of shod horses so that they can understand the importance of biomechanics and soundness. What have been the triumphs and challenges of running your own business? I relish working with every, single horse and rider. Watching their journey and seeing their joy when the horse they were told was written off, suddenly makes a comeback. I am not very good at the admin though so this will always be the bain of my life! Which part of your work do you enjoy the most? Hearing the joy in an owner’s voice when their horse shows an improvement. With these unprecedented times with the Covid-19 situation, working within business is extremely challenging? Has this been an issue with your work and if so how have you adapted? As we are still in launch mode with FTGU, I still have my corporate job to pay the bills! All of my contact with my sports massage clients has halted and I’m not doing any yard visits at all. To keep my clients and followers entertained and horses supple, we have been doing Sunday Spa Day videos which are quick clips showing some stretches and massage techniques owners can try themselves. All my clients also get access to a client only area on our website which also shares polework, groundwork and stretching exercises. What are your future plans with From The Ground Up? My focus is to help as many horses as I can. I can only do so much with our barefoot rehabilitation and owner education programmes so my biggest goal is to work with the wider equestrian community to help educate our professionals of the future on what a healthy hoof should look like and how it should be performing to identify potential issues before they arise.  On a day off, where would we find you? At home, watching the horses on the track with a glass of something  Where do you hope to be in ten years’ time? My aim is to get onto the vet school curriculum and to start to see these new vets approach veterinary hoof care with a different eye. On a personal note, I would love to see at least one of my rehabs compete at the top of their game – I’d be the loudest cheer in the crowd! Against the Clock  Bays, Greys or Chestnuts: Chestnuts Gin or Champagne: Tough one but it has to be champagne Cheese or Chocolate: Chocolate Sunshine or Snow: Sunshine Home Counties or Far Away Shores: Far away shores Spend or Save: Spend Home Cooked or Eating Out: Eating out Music or Film: Music Wellies or Heels: Wellies but I do love a beautiful pair of heels! Please visit: Follow on Facebook Find on Instagram

Chatting A Bit with Savvy’s Yard

From writing a blog about life with her cheeky mare Savvy, Tracey and her husband Adam took hold of the reins and started a new rural business – Savvy’s Yard. Their passion for equestrian and countryside life is the sole focus of their rural business supplying a selection of the gifts, jewellery, and homeware. Sam Hobden from Haynet recently caught up with Tracey and Adam, to find out more about the personalities behind Savvy’s Yard: Both your passion for rural life comes through very strong. Did you both grow up in the countryside? Yes, I’m a farmer’s daughter. I spent my childhood evenings and weekends riding and playing with ponies, any left over time was helping my family with the animals our dairy farm. When I was 16 my parents moved back to my mother’s family farm in Highbridge, Somerset. Where they farm sheep and cattle, they also have a riding school there too. From a young age, Adam has lived in the Somerset. Though not as rural, Adam grew up in the seaside town of Burnham-on-Sea. Back in 2014 Adam’s parents moved and bought an old cottage, situated on the edge of the Mendip hills. There’s an abundance of wildlife with lots of lovely walks through the countryside. They live just below Crooks Peak, the beginning of the Mendips. Which on the hills the local farmers have grazing rights and wild horses roam free. We now have our own house together in Mark, Somerset. You started blogging about life with Savvy, Tracey’s cheeky mare. What made you decide to delve into the business of equine and country lifestyle gifts? We started the blog just after buying our first house together. As well as posting about Savvy we did some posts about our renovation works on the house. Both being quiet hands on and Adam being a previous electrician we did all the work on our own. We inherited some lovely English elm wood which now is very difficult to get hold of, which we made our coffee table from. We decided to do a Facebook post about the table, how we made it and how we inherited the wood. We took a picture of it where it lives in front of our inglenook fireplace and our followers loved it. We even had a request to make a bespoke table for a follower. We had enough wood left over to make a few shelves and our kitchen roll holder which we now make as an item for our store. From the response from our audience, we just had to take the opportunity to sell some of the items we made and Savvy’s Yard was born. Tell us all about Savvy’s Yard. Named after my horse Savvy, Savvy’s Yard is our online shop and social media blog. The tagline is “Inspired by horse and country living” which from our background of horses, farms, cottage renovation and living in the country it fits really well. That’s why we’re passionate about sourcing and producing a selection of the gifts, jewellery, and homeware for the equine and country lifestyles. We like that we are different at Savvy’s yard. Not only do we source our gorgeous collections we also make some of the items too. We are fortunate enough to have space at home, adjoining Savvy’s stable is our workshop. This is where we make the item’s we sell such as our kitchen roll holders, coat rack and tack holder sets. The result is a fascinating collection of unique homeware and lifestyle accessories inspired by horse and country living. We love to share new content with our following regularly through social media and our blog. The posts often discuss what Savvy has been up to during the week, her latest rides and events. They also include updates about our cottage renovations. The latest news from the workshop, including heads up about new products and, of course, Daisy, our 6-month-old girl. What have been the triumphs and challenges of running your own business? Our triumph has to be the Easter weekend 2019, up until this point we hadn’t really had much success. We only had a handful of orders from our followers. Our portfolio of products was small so we decided to invest in more and different stock. Just before the weekend, we launched some new products including our Savvy the horse doorstop. We advertised for the first time and had multiple orders every day over the weekend and sold out on the doorstops in two days. Still, our doorstops prove to be the most popular. Our biggest challenge is the current time we face due to the current climate and coronavirus. However, we are making the most of the situation we find ourselves in. We have been working hard on the website and Facebook page so we can be the best we can be when we get back to some normality.  Which part of your work do you both enjoy the most? We really enjoy coming up with new products, sourced and home-made. We’ve recently just launched a new range of horse hair jewellery. It’s a stunning collection, made from sterling silver and all made by hand in the UK.  It’s also fantastic to hear where and how our customers find us, especially when we have been recommended by a friend.  With these unprecedented times with the Covid-19 situation, working within business is extremely challenging? Has this been an issue with your work and if so how have you adapted? As we are an online business which we run from home we are still able to operate under some normality. We are however taking extra precautions when handling and packaging products. Despite our best efforts with self-promoting the business, we have had a reduced number of overall sales. Although the reduced number we have had an increase in customers buying presents for others. We fill in the cards we sell and have been sending direct to their friends and family on their behalf. What are your future plans with Savvy’s Yard? We will be continuing to grow our range keeping a fresh interest of products. We would also love to showcase our collection on a stand at some big horse events soon. On a day off, where would we find you? We are both super active and fit, so possibly at the gym. We do enjoy going off for a long walk and stopping off at a lovely little pub for lunch. We have recently got a baby rucksack carrier which Daisy loves, it allows us to go on walks where we couldn’t go with a pram. If we have time and the weather is good too, I love riding Savvy on the beach which is only a 15 min drive away.  Where do you both hope to be in ten years’ time? We would love for Savvy’s Yard to be a popular brand in the horsey and country industry. Our goal is that one day we can both be working full time with Savvy’s Yard as currently we both work full time on our main jobs.  Against the Clock  Bays, Greys or Chestnuts: Greys  Gin or Champagne:  Gin  Cheese or Chocolate: Chocolate  Sunshine or Snow:  Sunshine  Home Counties or Far Away Shores: Home Counties  Spend or Save: Save  Home Cooked or Eating Out: Home cooked   Music or Film: Film  Horse Racing or Racing Cars: Horse Racing (Adam say’s racing cars!) Please visit: Follow on Facebook Follow on Instagram

Chatting A Bit with Julie Wilkinson

With this very challenging and worrying time, many rural business owners will be concerned about how their business can survive the Covid-19 pandemic. In our latest Chatting A Bit interview, Sam Hobden speaks with Julie Wilkinson from Wilkinson Accounting Solutions working with businesses from all areas. With our passion for championing rural business, Julie’s financial expertise during these testing times is vital in ensuring all businesses survive and thrive particularly from the countryside: What were your childhood ambitions – was it to always work in the financial industry? After I finished college, I was not quite sure what I wanted to do with my career so I took a year off and went travelling around Australia. I had always imagined that I would work within an office environment but I did not think as a childhood ambition that I would become a chartered accountant and end up running my own successful business. What would be your best advice to a school leaver who is thinking of making accounting their career?  My advice to school leavers would be that it is ‘OK’ not to know exactly what you want to do and if you do not achieve everything you expected at school/college that there are still opportunities later in life. I did not start my accountancy career until I was 23 when I asked my employer at the time ‘How can I progress in my job’ and I applied for an apprenticeship to study my AAT. I did this as an evening course for just over 3 years and realised that I enjoyed finance and after passing all my exams the first time I decided to proceed onto CIMA, which I took as weekend college for another couple of years. I successfully passed all of my qualifications and became a chartered accountant. At the time I was only 1 of 2 people that had ever qualified as an accountant within my company, as it had always been the norm that they took on university graduates, who then qualified as accountants. As a recognition, I was asked to do a talk to 500 staff members about my experience as a non-graduate accountant and I am now passionate about advocating all people interested in finance that if you work hard, the possibilities will be there for you. Tell us about your business and all about Wilkinson Accounting Solutions. The overall mission of my accountancy firm is to help businesses grow by offering innovative solutions that manage their profits, cash and resources effectively, whilst helping business owners transition from working in their business to focusing on its future growth.  I offer a wide variety of bespoke packages including 1-2-1 business planning sessions for small start up’s and SME’s to financial coaching for larger firms including support on cost saving initiatives, implementing measurable KPI’s, non-financial reporting, budgeting, cash flow management, audit, financial controls, system implementations and process improvements. I also offer a fully outsourced finance function which enables business owners more time to focus on their core activities knowing that their back office services such as bookkeeping, management accounts, tax, VAT etc are being looked after by qualified and experienced professionals, giving them more time but most importantly more enjoyment, which enables them to focus on what they do best. What have been the triumphs and challenges of running your own business? My triumphs have been offering such a wide range of services which are suitable for small business but also large corporates and enabled me to work with sole traders all the way through to businesses with turnover of up to £50m.  The main challenge I face is really helping businesses understand how a structured finance process can help them and that it is not just large corporate firms that should be forecasting and managing cash flow. My experience has taught me that most business owners (large and small) often think that finance is about their accountants sitting behind computers, processing their receipts and yearend tax. The reality is that finance can be so much more than numbers, I am a true business partner that helps business owners understand opportunities and then implement solutions that help them measure if ‘what they want to do actually makes money’.  Which part of your work do you enjoy the most? I love the variety of my work as I get to work with so many different businesses, of different sizes and in different industries.  With these unprecedented times with the Covid-19 situation, working within rural business is extremely challenging. What advice would you give anxious business owners to get through these difficult months ahead? I would advise business owners that there are 4 main steps they should take in these uncertain times. Develop a cash forecast of at least 12 weeks which shows immediate income and cash so they can track their cash position and know at which point they are at risk of not being able to pay their bills. Review all of their costs to see if they can reduce their cash outflow. Speak to suppliers to see if they can defer payments or if they need loans to fund their business. There is a new CBILS loan scheme set up which applies to businesses of under £45m turnover and I am offering a free consultation to help businesses determine whether they may be able to apply.  Identify new revenue streams to generate cash. For example, if people were selling meat at a market can they deliver instead or if you teach horse riding lessons, can you now sell worksheets or online riding instructions (like people use for driving tests) Create a business plan of how they want their business to be post COVID-19 and how they will get there. This should be at least a 12-month forecast and be realistic in terms of what will they need to spend on marketing etc to build up new clients. What are your future plans with Wilkinson Accounting Solutions? I am focusing on growing my business, increasing my client base and advocating the importance of finance. I offer free financial and business planning presentations which are helping business owners understand the importance of finance. On a day off, where would we find you? I am secretly a bit of an adrenalin junky and these days my main hobbies are either using my jet ski or speed boat on the south coast. I have two beautiful dogs and generally love to spend my time outdoors either using our ‘motorsports’ or going to the middle of nowhere camping with my dogs and husband. Where do you hope to be in ten years’ time? My plan is to grow my business so I have clients in every main city and have a senior leadership team that are running the day to day activities, so I can take a step back and enjoy my hobbies even more! Against the Clock  Gin or Champagne: Champagne Cheese or Chocolate: Chocolate Sunshine or Snow: Snow Home Counties or Far Away Shores: Home Counties Spend or Save: A little of both (but more spend) PC or Mac: PC Home Cooked or Eating Out: Eating Out (unless a roast dinner) Music or Film: Film Julie has developed a cash calculator that is perfect for small businesses and sole traders, who want to quickly ‘track their cash’ and monitor their closing bank balance over a 12 week period. All purchases also come with a FREE PDF including hints, tips and exercises for businesses to learn and find innovative ways to improve their cash (usually worth £25) For Haynet readers you can take advantage of a special discount quoting haynet at checkout for the discounted price of just £4.99. Click here to purchase. Please visit: Follow on Linkedin

Chatting A Bit with Alison Kenward

Alison Kenward, a BHS Stage 4 Senior Coach has the love of horses and dressage running through her veins. Her passion for coaching has helped all ages and abilities in the saddle with a positive mindset at the heart of her teaching. Sam Hobden from Haynet recently caught up with Alison in this latest Chatting A Bit interview, to find out more about her life with her beloved horses: Your passion for horses is incredibly strong!  Were you both brought up in this environment as a child? I remember being introduced to horses and knowing I wanted to spend my time with them. I have wonderful memories of going to ride at Tower Farm in Rugby when they still had a Riding School. It was a magical place. Later I went to a Riding School in Coventry and continued to plead for a pony of my own. I remember the excitement too of reading Horse & Pony Magazine every fortnight. When I was 9 my first pony Toby made all of my dreams come true. He was kept at livery and my first competition was at Walsgrave Amateur RC, I hacked there!  What were your childhood ambitions? Was it to always work in the equestrian industry? I desperately wanted to train my second pony to show jump and qualify for a second round. I knew I wanted horses in my life and to compete. There was little information available in the careers room, I could only find information about the BHS exam system so I made up my mind that would be the route I’d take. I had no insight other than that they existed. I took a train with my Grandmother to a London Centre to take my Stage One and my eyes were opened to possibilities. I was very lucky to meet Michele Carman at Pony Club and to learn the craft of teaching at the Riding School she managed. This was before I passed my driving test and I hacked there too.  The equestrian industry can be tough. What would be your advice for a school leaver that wanted to work in equine business particularly in the area of coaching? The BHS pathway is without a doubt the system that prepared me for the challenges I have faced in my career. I recommend connecting with a local Pony Club and attending young instructor courses. Practical experience is essential to thrive in the industry and I would suggest working at an Approved Yard whilst training.  Tell us about dressage career. What are you have been the challenges and triumphs when it comes to competing? The wonder and challenge of Dressage is that as we grow as a rider and develop our partnership with our horses so the Art of Dressage captures our attention. I like the Quote “As a Rider, Dressage is what feelings look like” There is nothing to compare to the discovery of connection, balance and expression as we progress through test movements.  Challenges evolve too, in the beginning I was surprised by long arena letters and lateral work, the complexity of the patterns and the mystery of the next level. These days the challenges are more around presenting tests I’m proud of and training to be an Equestrian Athlete. Happy moments for me with Jack were competing at the BD Winter National Championships and training with Emile Faurie. Riding for the Central England Team at the Amateur Home International with Sebastian holds incredible memories. My current partner Neptune is very exciting too. I have a particular fond memory of competing at Moulton to complete his Regional Qualification and achieving personal bests that cemented our partnership. That day I knew even without reading the test sheets that he and I had found each other.  Mindset and positiveness is a very key focus when it comes to your teaching. Do you feel that this approach is a pivotal change in equestrian training especially now we are in the 2020’s? I have been aware of the role of positive psychology for a long time. When I heard about the Centre10 Applied Psychology Course for Equestrian Coaches with Charlie Unwin and Sarah Huntley I applied straight away and was delighted to be awarded a place with the first Cohort. The insights, knowledge and experience gained through that training programme have enhanced my awareness and coaching practice. I am delighted that the BHS has recognised the importance of this CPD and highly recommend all Equestrian Coaches consider exploring the Centre10 courses.   Tell us about the horses that share your life? Who has been the “special one” during your riding career so far? Roughway Jack defined my Dressage Career and Coach education. Jack came to me as a retired Advanced Eventer. I started my Dressage career at Prelim with him after previously competing in Polocrosse competitions and Hunting. Suddenly flat work made sense to me and we worked our way up to Advanced Medium during our 10 year partnership. Jack’s owner Rachel Crook also let me steal her ride Sebastian for the season Jack was injured and later found Neptune for me.  What are your future plans for your Alison Kenward Dressage? I’m enjoying spending time with Neptune and I’m excited to see how far we can progress together. I would like to compete as soon as I am back to riding effectively- I’m so proud of his attitude and generous nature – my rider rehabilitation programme depends on him helping me. My Coaching gives me great pleasure, it’s rewarding to help horse and riders develop and form strong partnerships. I especially enjoy competition coaching at all levels – nothing beats being part of a team that supports Equestrian Athletes.  On a day off, where would we find you? Usually listening to music and reading a book though lately I have discovered Audible and there are great audiobooks and podcasts to explore.  Where do you hope to both be in ten years’ time? On my wish list is a National Championship Title. I hope I’ll still be living in the UK in 10 years time probably still in Oxfordshire…  Against the Clock  Champagne or Gin: Champagne  Sunshine or Snow: Sunshine  Home Counties or Far Away Shores: Home Counties  Spend or Save:  Save Home Cooked or Eating Out: Eating Out  Music or Film: Music  Wellies or Heels: Wellies  Please visit: Alison Kenward Dressage Follow Alison on Facebook Find Alison on Instagram

Chatting A Bit With Becky Heappey (nee Woolven)

Deep in the Gloucestershire countryside, professional 5* event rider Becky Heappey (or you may know her as Becky Woolven as she has headed down the aisle recently) can be found at Charlton Down House in Tetbury. Her eventing career has strengthened in recent years and she is now very much at home at top 5* events including Badminton and Burghley. With her passion for eventing together with coaching, Sam Hobden from Haynet recently caught up with Becky to find out more about the personality behind this super event rider: Horses are your complete passion. Did you grow up riding ponies and competing? I come from a completely un-horsey family so horses and riding wasn’t quite the plan as far as my parents were concerned! Not knowing quite what to do with a horse-obsessed child and desperately hoping I would grow out of this “phase,” my parents finally agreed to let me have lessons at the local riding school from the age of 7. Three years later I managed to secure my own pony (it took a LOT of persuasion) and had brilliant fun with my friends who also kept their ponies at a local livery yard. We’d ride for hours, jump crazy things out on hacks and then spend the rest of the day talking about it and plotting the next crazy ride! I got into eventing through the Pony Club when I was 14 and it went from there. When did you realise that you wanted to work and compete with horses as a career? What advice would you give a school leaver that wanted to event and work with horses? I knew very little about careers in horses because it wasn’t something that my school or my parents were particularly keen to encourage. When I discovered that there was such a thing as an equine degree at university, I had my heart set on it. I went to the Royal Agricultural University and gained a First Class degree in International Equine and Agricultural Business Management which was a brilliant course and I learnt a lot. I also got to take my horse with me and kept him locally which was brilliant.  I think it’s important to have something to fall back on in case horses doesn’t work out – it can be a brutal career and there’s no knowing if it’s definitely for you until you’re doing it, day in day out.  All equestrian sports bring triumphs and challenges. Tell us about yours within your eventing career. My biggest triumphs would have to be finishing 17th at my first Burghley on Charlton Down Riverdance (“Socks”) in 2016 and then 13th last year on DHI Babette K (“Betty”). Betty also finished 9th at Luhmuhlen in her first 5* last year which was a huge high! One of the toughest moments in my career to date was when my old 4* horse LB The Phantom (“Otto”) did a tendon a few months before we were set to do our first 5* together at Burghley. He’d been 11th at Blenheim the previous year and things had been going so well…I will never forget the moment my vet ran the scanner down his tendon and looked at me with a sombre expression.  What do you look for in an event horse? Do you go with your gut feeling or should a horse have a list of requirements for competition? Gut feeling is very important and I always like a horse to feel “on side.” They are hopefully going to be your teammate for many years to come so it’s important that they want to work with you, and that they enjoy it. They must have good enough conformation, but obviously it will never be perfect. I’m sure it’s the case with everyone that you would be prepared to overlook certain things but not others, and this is sometimes influenced by bad experiences you may have had in the past! I always like a good pair of front feet. Who have been your support network with your equestrian career? When I was younger I was very lucky to benefit from the wisdom and support of lots of pony club families and in particular the Chief Instructor of my pony club (South Oxfordshire Hunt South), Jane Adderley. Jane took me under her wing and introduced me to eventing. In more recent years my family (especially my parents) and my friends have been amazing but in particular my husband, Matt, has been an incredible support. He wasn’t horsey when we met but has thrown himself into it and can now be seen helping at lots of events!  He’s been a huge help with the business side of things but his greatest contribution is the emotional support. As everybody knows, the highs and lows that come with horses (sometimes in quick succession) are extreme and he supports me with both in equal measure.  I’m also extremely fortunate to have such a fantastic and growing group of owners. We go through the highs and lows of the eventing journey together and it makes my life much easier when they’re all so supportive.  Which of your horses has been the “special one”? It would be hard not to say Socks. I bought him with his owner, Julie Record, as a weak and gangly 4 year old out of a hunting yard for £4,000 and we went to Badminton and Burghley together. He’s now retired from the top level but he had the most extraordinary heart – he would literally do anything for me and when a horse gives you that much, is it such a special partnership. I now feel a huge responsibility for him to have the happiest of times in his new life. I have found him a wonderful loan home very locally where he has been having the time of his life out hunting! Which equestrian rider do you take inspiration from and why? I grew up watching Pippa Funnell’s videos and still take huge inspiration from her. Pippa is so passionate about her horses and is meticulous in her preparation.  If you hadn’t had travelled down the equestrian career path, what would have been your Plan B? I genuinely can’t imagine doing anything else. If the equine species didn’t exist then I think I’d like to have been a farmer – I just love being outdoors with animals, you can’t beat it. On a day off, where would we find you? Matt and I bought a house in September so any days off at the moment are spent trying to furnish it – I have become very familiar with Ikea lately!  Where do you hope to be in ten years time? I would love to be representing GB on a senior team and also have produced some more 5* horses. I would definitely like a top five result at one of the “Big Bs” soon and then the dream is always to win one! Against the Clock Bays, Greys or Chestnuts: Bays Champagne or Gin: Gin Schoolmaster or Youngster: Youngster Sunshine or Snow: Sunshine Home Cooked or Eating Out: Eating Out Spend or Save: My husband would say spend but I’d say a bit of both! Music or Film: Music Horse Racing or Racing Cars: Horse racing Please visit: Follow on Facebook: Follow on Instagram: Follow on Twitter:

Chatting A Bit with Huff Equestrian

Melanie Hunter Yell, mother and entrepreneur, is on a mission to redefine the equestrians wardrobe. Based in Wiltshire with her husband, son Otto, four horses, two dogs and a cat, Mel launched her contemporary brand: Huff Equestrian. The business has grown from strength to strength creating stylish and technical equestrian wear. Sam Hobden from Haynet recently caught up with Mel to find out more about the personality behind this exciting equestrian business: You are very passionate about the equestrian world. Were you brought up in this environment as a child? Yes absolutely. I was lucky enough my parents bought my sister and I our first pony when I was 4 years old. My parents actually met at a riding school when they were 12 years old, so horses are very much in our genes. We had some fabulous ponies when we grew up and were lucky enough our parents would ferry us around the country competing, showing, pony club, pony club games, dressage and eventing. It was our lifestyle and it still is! In recent years you have set up your own equestrian company. What made you step into this area of the business? I’d worked in global brand, marketing and advertising for 22 years and as much as I loved it, I love horses more! In 2013, I bought a new horse after a 13 year gap from competing and obviously I had to buy a lot of new stuff! I was spending a lot of money with some of the best brands in the market, yet every time something arrived, I was just a little bit disappointed. Equestrian fashion had not changed in 13 years! And quite frankly it was all, just a bit ‘horsey’. Over the years out of the horsey game I’d taken up yoga, running and HIIT training and was quite used to having a wardrobe full of versatile athleisurewear and realised that was what I wanted for the passionate, busy and active equestrian.  Tell us about Huff Equestrian and its vision. What are you particularly proud of with your company? Our vision is to redefine the equestrians wardrobe and design hybrid equestrian leisurewear that shouldn’t just meet the demands of a modern rider, but also makes you look and feel great whether you are on or off the horse. Modern living means our lives and our wardrobes, are less compartmentalised. Having a more versatile wardrobe of comfortable, practical and stylish leisurewear also has a positive impact on the environment as we buy less and mix up our athleisure looks. Our super stylish Equi-leggings are our hero product for sure. They are fabulously cut, to flatter any shape or size. I wore my usual size mediums throughout my pregnancy and they were the only comfortable thing I could wear towards the end. I still wear the same pair today! I’m also super proud that we constantly strive towards more sustainable fabrics, products and practices. Our Sweater and Tee collection is 100% organic cotton and make in ‘No Sweat’ factories meaning everyone is treated and paid fairly for the work they do. We also make sure all the print and finishing happens here in Wiltshire to keep our carbon footprint to a minimum and of course all our packaging is recyclable. This is just how we like to do business, not a differentiator.  What have been the triumphs and challenges working within this area of the industry? The triumphs are definitely getting messages from our customers telling me how much they love our range. Also being able to work with and make lifelong friends with some wonderful people.  We obviously work with some super talented professional riders such as Danni Dunn and Holly Woodhead and I’ve made some great friends through working with influencers in the sector and in social media. The challenges are definitely managing suppliers. That said, when you find a good one and you are working on new products and designs, there is nothing more fulfilling! Let’s give a shout out for your company! Why should horse owners consider buying from Huff Equestrian? We genuinely want you to look and feel great whilst you’re doing the sport you’re so passionate about! We all spend a fortune making sure our horses are ‘matchy matchy’, fit and fed well, but we don’t look after ourselves. We owe it to ourselves and our horses to look after ourselves too! We design for our customers and our products go through rigorous testing. We don’t use ‘house models’ for our fittings, we use ‘me’, a shorter than average size 12.  Being a mother it must be hard to juggle a career with your family? How to manage to keep family life and work run cohesively together? I’m not sure we ‘run cohesively’, to be honest! ;0)  It’s really hard work. As a family, we work long hours. I have a super supportive husband and our little boy is amazing! All of that helps. I’m a massive list writer but don’t always stick to the list and my days are usually managed almost minute by minute. Sometimes you have to let the small things go, to focus on the important things, but that is pretty hard for a perfectionist. And I have to reprioritise all of the time. Sometimes I have to just stop and put my family first. I take regular social media breaks as that can be hugely draining and distracting from my own personal journey. What would be your advice to a school leaver that wanted to work in equestrian retail? Oh I love this question. I have lots of strong views about education and how you map your life. But in summary, I’m a huge believer in following your heart and gut instinct. When you leave school, honestly, you don’t know what the right thing to do is. So if you don’t know, you have to do what will make you happy. If you work hard enough, you can achieve anything you want to. And do you know what, if it doesn’t work out, who cares, do something else!  What are your future plans for Huff Equestrian? We have some really exciting plans for Huff going forward, but much of which I can’t share right now. We’re working with some exciting new ambassadors and have some really great content and community activity coming out soon. Stay tuned!  On a day off, where would we find you? Unfortunately, I don’t really get a day off right now. Not only do I run Huff, but I still do a bit of marketing consultancy, we have a livery yard and I have 2 eventers to run and two ponies I’m breaking in! But if I did have a day off, I would probably be spending it with my husband, little boy Otto and the dogs –  may be a walk somewhere and a pub lunch!   Where do you hope to be in ten years’ time? We have a beautiful home and yard in Wiltshire, so I want to be right here enjoying it! We have big plans to grow the business internationally. We do have a lot of international orders, but there are some markets that I would love to crack.   Against the Clock  Bays, Greys or Chestnuts: Chestnuts all the way!!!  Gin or Champagne: Champagne Sunshine or Snow: Sun (although I love to ski!) Home Counties or Far Away Shores: Home counties Spend or Save: Spend! Home Cooked or Eating Out: Eat out! Although I am a damn fine cook! Music or Film: Can I say ‘boxset’? Wellies or Heels: Wellies….I’m not sure I remember what heels are??! Please visit Huff Equestrian: Follow on Facebook Follow on Instagram

Chatting A Bit with Olive & Berry

With dogs sharing Natalie Tyson’s life from an early age, launching her own canine business in later years has been a personal triumph. Olive & Berry was born offering stylish, high quality and locally sourced canine products. Sam Hobden from Haynet recently caught up with Natalie to find out more about the personality behind this innovative canine business: You are clearly passionate about the dogs in your life! Have you always had dogs and were you brought up with them? Oh, I’m obsessed with them! I can’t walk past a dog without smiling at it…We got our first family dog when I was at primary school after years of begging our parents. I’ve always had black Labradors and our one rule is that they need to be named after a black variety of food. Our first dog was called Liquorice and obviously now there’s Olive & Berry. We’re going to run out of names soon! What was your childhood ambition? Did you always want to run your own business? When I was younger, I used to tell my mum I wanted to have a job where I wore a suit and smelled of perfume. A very random career choice but it has kind of worked out like that. Since leaving university I’ve had a passion to start my own business, but I didn’t know what in. Until one day it just clicked! As weird as it is, I used to sit in the office at my corporate company feeling quite empty thinking there’s more to me than this.  I’m passionate about being able to be in a position where I can really make a difference to people and the community. Owning Olive & Berry means I can run a business on my own terms, I can make sure the products we sell to customers are high quality, I can make sure they get the best service possible and I can ensure our products, packaging and footprint is sustainable. And guess what, there’s no one telling me what to do which is great! Recently you have set up your own canine supplies company. What made you step into this area of the industry? I really struggled to find any dog interior I loved when I bought Olive & Berry. I spent so long searching for the right furniture, curtains and colour palettes for my home to then be so disappointed with the dog products currently on the market. In my opinion, they didn’t look nice in my home and I had to ‘settle’ for something. And anything I did like was an absolute fortune!  So our mission is to provide trendy, fashionable dog interior that you don’t need to hide in your cupboard when guests come round for a coffee. Tell us about Olive & Berry and its vision. What are you particularly proud of with your company? Our passion is to make sure our customers can buy high quality, on-trend pet interior that they are proud to have in their home. Our long-term vision is to provide customers with a bespoke service where they can match dog interior to their home that doesn’t cost another mortgage! Pet owners shouldn’t have to deal with stinky dog beds, manky old tennis balls and crumbly biscuits in their pockets etc. Solutions should be provided for this so they can have a lovely home with lovely dog interior (that’s useful) inside it! I’m proud of so many things we have achieved so far but these are my biggest achievements: 1.     Locally produced– our products are designed and locally produced in England; I think it’s really important that we support businesses in the UK. It also helps because we have great relationships with our suppliers, we visit their factories and understand their processes. This means we can deliver safe and beautiful products to our customers.  2.     Sustainable– Did you know that a plastic bottle lasts up to 450 years in the ocean and all dead whales & dolphins washed up on the shore have plastic in them? This is really sad so we’re trying to help here too. The fibre in our beds is made out of recycled plastic bottles, we want to be as environmentally friendly as possible.  3.     Charity – A personal passion of mine is supporting the homeless, so we donate a penny for every £1 spent to local homeless charities. I believe dogs give you a purpose in life and although it’s still a work in progress I think dogs can help the homeless in some way. We’re still working on this… Marketing a business is key through social media. Which network works for your canine business and why? We have Instagram and Facebook at the moment, where we showcase our products, offers and updates. We also like to post and share hilarious pictures of dogs because who doesn’t love to see those? It’s so nice having direct access to our customers and other dog lovers, it means we can get a real insight into what they like and want in a friendly, light-hearted setting.  What have been the triumphs and challenges of running Olive & Berry? Oh wow, well it’s still really early days for us, we only started trading in August this year but we have had so many highs and lows already. My favourite triumph is developing a product from start to finish and seeing a customer’s reactions, this is so scary but also really rewarding when they like it, especially when our products are making a difference to their pets and their lives.  The biggest challenge we have faced so far is with other businesses actually, there have been occasions where we have put our trust in a supplier, and they have let us down which has cost us a lot of money. I think there needs to be better policing out there, but I guess money can be replaced, and it was a great learning for me so early on in my business journey.  Let’s give a shout out for your brand! Why should customers come to your site and buy? Well if you take pride in your home and you have struggled to find products that look amazing, we’re for you. Our products are different from anything you will have seen out there, not only do we think they look pretty smart they are also doing good in this world. They are locally produced, sustainable and support local charities. We really enjoy hearing what people think so please do follow us on social media and let us know what you love or what you’d like to see us create next!  What are your future plans for Olive & Berry? We want to let our customers decide this through the products they buy and what they tell us. In the short term we are trying to spread the word about Olive & Berry, in the long term we’re working on new ranges and exciting products as well as growing the brand so we can help make more changes for good.  On a day off, where would we find you? Doing something active and then eating something tasty, any kind of sport or competitive games! I love a good meal out too. Where do you hope to be in ten years’ time? I would love the brand to be known for changing the way we view dog interior. I would also hope we have raised a lot of money for charity and continued to develop sustainable products. Watch this space I guess!   Against the Clock  Working Dog or Toy Dog: Working dog Champagne or Gin: Gin 100% Sunshine or Snow: Hard one, sunshine, snow just gets in the way! Home Counties or Far Away Shores: Far away, I love travelling Spend or Save: Spend Home Cooked or Eating Out: Eating out  Music or Film: Music Wellies or Heels: Wellies Natalie Tyson founded Olive & Berry in 2019 inspired by her two black labradors and her quest to find high-quality, long-lasting and stylish products. Unable to find interior and environmentally friendly products to suit her stylish home, Natalie decided to make and source them herself, and so Olive & Berry was born.  Not willing to compromise on quality, Olive & Berry works with manufacturers local to its Yorkshire base wherever possible, creating home-friendly colour palettes, and banishing brown, black or paw print products to the back of the cupboard. Pet comfort comes first and all items are designed or sourced with cosiness, durability and longevity as well as style in mind.  To browse the product range and keep up to date on special offers visit Connect on Instagram:  Connect on Facebook:  

Chatting A Bit with Trendy Equine

With the love for horses and ponies consuming Kelly Medlin from a young age, it was a very natural move for her to trot into the world of equestrian business. Trendy Equine is an online equestrian boutique where you can buy on-trend, premium equestrian fashion whether you are a happy hacker or a dressage superstar! Sam Hobden from Haynet recently caught up with Kelly to find out more about the personality behind this premium equestrian business: You are very passionate about the equestrian world. Were you brought up in this environment as a child? I started riding when I was 3 years old, my mum’s friend had a shetland pony and I loved brushing it and they would sit me on him and lead me around. From that, I then went on to have lessons and started helping at a local riding school every Saturday from the age of about 8. However no one else in my family rides. My mum used to which is why she got me into it, but she hadn’t ridden for years.   What was your childhood ambition? Was it to always work in the equine industry?  I always wanted to be a dressage rider and ride at Olympia when I was really young, I think because Olympia was one of my favourite shows to go and watch. At school I did my work experience at a livery yard, but decided to work directly with horses wasn’t for me. I’ve had a bad back since a young age and knew my body wouldn’t manage a life as a groom. I decided to have it as a hobby and went off to University where I got a degree in Social Work. In recent years you have set up your own equestrian company. What made you step into this area of the business? I wanted to do something that I really loved and was passionate about. Horses have always been a huge part of my life, so I knew I wanted it to be horse related.  I felt a lot of the skills I’ve acquired over the years would be transferrable, I like working with people and I also love fashion, especially when it’s equine related. So it seemed a good idea to go into the retail sector of the industry.  Tell us about Trendy Equine and its vision. What are you particularly proud of with your company? I wanted Trendy to be a high end boutique, offering great quality products from brands I use and trust. I wanted the website to be easy to navigate, and I wanted to use good imagery to really show people the details in the products. I am really pleased with how the website works and looks, as I wanted it to be stylish and fresh. I love putting looks together and I’m always really proud when the brands share pictures I’ve taken of their products. I also wanted it to have a personal feel and for people to know they are buying from a person who has a horse, and uses the products. I’m so proud of the feedback I’ve received and the reviews people leave, I genuinely try and make the shopping experience as easy and as pleasant as possible, and I’ll always measure items and take extra pictures for people when they have questions. What have been the triumphs and challenges working within this area of the industry? Launching was a huge triumph! There were many months of work that came before we finally went live with the site, and I was so happy that the hard work paid off and we had a website and amazing stock that we could show everyone. Working with my amazing ambassadors has been a huge triumph. I am so lucky to have the support of some fantastic riders and I still pinch myself now that they are part of my team.  There have been many challenges along the way, learning about how fast paced fashion is with season changes, the styles and sizes that people want and social media algorithms to name a few. I’ve definitely made some mistakes along the way but it’s all a learning process, so no experience is a bad one, just an opportunity to learn and evolve. Let’s give a shout out for your company! Why should horse/pony owners consider buying from Trendy Equine? We sell the best quality products from top brands. We provide outfit inspiration, style guides, sizing advice and anything else you need to know about our products. Every order comes with a thank you card and some treats for your horse.  Not only does the website feature fantastic horse and rider wear, we have a magazine section where you can read about the latest horse related topics, and get tips from our ambassadors (who are also top level riders!) As a girl who’s “horsey wardrobe” is much bigger than her “normal” wardrobe, trust me I’ve spent a lot of time shopping online, so I wanted to really offer a great service. What do you look for in an equestrian brand that encourages you to stock their lines within your business? I like to stock premium brands that offer stylish and functional products. I like brands who use technical fabrics and cuts that flatter your shape. Our brands spend a lot of time researching and developing products that are durable, comfortable, and look good. I look for that combination when I am buying products. You need rider wear that doesn’t restrict you, that is warm but without being bulky, and breathable.  I like horse wear that offers the horse maximum comfort and protection, but that has extra detailing and is pleasant on the eye. I’m looking for good quality fabrics that wash and wear again and again, but that are also stylish. I like all the extra little details that make an outfit special. I also like easy fashion. I look for collections that are coherent and want them to be able to mix and match and put looks together with ease. No one has time to spend hours agonizing over what goes with what! What are your future plans for Trendy Equine? Well, that would be telling! I always want to keep Trendy as a boutique, so it will continue to offer a good selection of high end brands, but it won’t be a one stop shop. However, I do plan to expand into some new products and eventually some new brands (hopefully) We are now branching into bigger and better photoshoots and I am really excited to develop that further.  On a day off, where would we find you? At the yard! A typical day off will generally incorporate riding, but with two young children, a day off involves me fitting in a ride as well as enjoying some family time. We all love the outdoors so there might be a bike ride or family dog walk incorporated at some point!  Where do you hope to be in ten years’ time? I hope to have some more horses! To still enjoy running Trendy and to continue developing the company, working with amazing brands and coming up with new and innovative ways to showcase their products. Maybe even my own brand, who knows… Against the Clock  Bays, Greys or Chestnuts: Bays Gin or Champagne: Champagne Sunshine or Snow: Sunshine Home Counties or Far Away Shores: Home Counties Spend or Save: Save Home Cooked or Eating Out: Eating Out Music or Film: Music Wellies or Heels: Wellies Please visit: Follow on Facebook Follow on Instagram

Chatting A Bit With Equihandee

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: Follow on Facebook Follow on Instagram

Chatting A Bit with Rhiannon Bates

The countryside can be a tough place, especially when running a rural business. Deep in the Yorkshire countryside, Rhiannon Bates from Garnet PR specialises working with lifestyle and tourism businesses. Her passion is to champion small rural businesses that connect people with nature and the countryside. Sam Hobden from Haynet recently caught up with Rhiannon to find out more about the personality behind Garnet PR: You seem very at home in the countryside. Were you brought up in this environment as a child? I was indeed! I grew up on the edge of Bourne Woods in Lincolnshire, with a wildlife photographer for a Dad, so I was pretty hooked on the countryside, nature and animals from day one. Most of my free time was spent at the stables or in the woods, so it’s safe to say I had a pretty muddy childhood! I really value it now and am a real advocate for ‘free-range’ children; letting little ones get muddy and spending lots of time outdoors. What were your childhood dreams and career ambitions? I remember one of my first childhood dreams was to become a world-famous showjumper. I grew up watching John Whitaker and Milton, longing to one day have a pony who would help me to fly the way these two did. I think that’s what started my soft spot for a grey horse – weirdly I’ve always had bays but long for the right grey to cross my path! What would be your best advice to a school leaver who is thinking of making rural marketing and PR their career?  Embrace every opportunity and be a bit fearless. Try your hand at lots of things and try to get some work experience. If you’d like to work in PR it’s really helpful to become as well-rounded as you can as it really helps you understand the industry – for example, try an agency, try in-house at a brand, and see if you can get a placement or work experience at a magazine or newspaper.  It’s also really important to build relationships as your network will become one of your most vital tools. Remember to always be polite and pleasant to everyone you meet as you never know when your path might cross again. There’s a story I heard when I first started out managing celebrity and charity relationships about an actress who was incredibly difficult and rude to all the junior staff on her shows. Well now they have all climbed the ladder and become the Executive Producers or Directors and she can’t get any work. It’s a good lesson to always be mindful of your manners as you never know where paths may lead.  You have a wide variety of PR experience working with wildlife, pets and celebrities. Which were the easier ones to work with? They always say never work with children or animals don’t they, and as I used to work at ZSL London Zoo I had both on a daily basis! I’m quite lucky in that most of the people and animals I’ve worked with have been great, there’s been the odd exception but hey they make the best stories for later life don’t they. One thing I learned was that animals rarely do what you want, when you want but that’s their nature and as they should be, I’ll never get tired of working with them. Tell us about your business and all about the team behind Garnet PR. Garnet PR was born of my passion for everything rural, wildlife and outdoorsy. I’ve been in the PR industry for 10 years now, telling the stories of conservation and animals charities including the Woodland Trust, ZSL London and Whipsnade Zoos and their parent charity, the Zoological Society of London, Dogs Trust and most recently working with an award-winning communications agency. I’ve been lucky enough to work with some of the world’s most incredible animals (I’ll never forget making Christmas presents for tiger cubs for a photocall!), conservationists (Sir David Attenborough genuinely is as incredible in real life as he is on the TV), and some wonderful celebrities who genuinely want to make the world better.  It was a brilliant place to be, but I knew my rural roots were growing stronger. My passion was with lifestyle and tourism businesses that connect people with nature and the countryside or bring families together for wonderful days out and adventures. I’m also a champion of small businesses that create beautiful products at home in the country and wanted to help them. So I made the jump and set up Garnet PR at the start of 2019. Now, I support businesses of all sizes; telling their stories, driving visitors to their attractions or destinations, increasing brand awareness through media coverage, and protecting their reputations. All from my office in Yorkshire with the help of my Cavapoo puppy, Teddy and my lovely other half, Tom, who has fully embraced country life!  What have been the triumphs and challenges of running your own business? I think the biggest thing I learnt in the first six months of business is that when you run your own business it’s really important to celebrate the small wins, as well as the big ones, and not to get knocked back by the challenges.  Setting up a business is fairly simple, it’s running it, growing it and managing it all which is the biggest challenge. Especially in the first couple of years when you’re likely just you or a small team. My biggest challenge is switching off – I’m so passionate about what I do at Garnet PR and the brands I work with that I’m always thinking about ideas and what’s next. Sometimes the best thing you can do is turn your phone off and be completely present in the moment or you risk burning out.  The biggest triumph has been building a fab network of brilliant fellow rural business people; clients, colleagues and friends. I truly love getting up in the morning feeling super excited about every day.  The world of social media is a very challenging place at the moment! What do you feel is the future of promoting a rural brand socially? What with ever-changing algorithms, cyber-bullying and other elements it can feel like quite a beast at times can’t it? It’s key to remember that social media was set up to be just that – social. To share information and to be a positive place to make connections. If you keep that at the heart of what you do, and stay true to your brand and its values you can’t go far wrong.  A key thing to remember with social media is that the clue is in the name. I always tell my clients, don’t ‘post and ghost’, there is absolutely no point constantly posting content and never actually interacting. Be social, talk to people, comment, like, share, build up meaningful connections. Some of my business besties have come through social media, it’s a brilliant tool and place to be if used right.  What are your future plans with Garnet PR? I plan to expand the charitable focus of the business, while my core focus is on rural businesses, I’d like to work with more conservation, environment and animal charities, helping to tell their stories and build support for them. The natural world is at a tipping point and it really needs as many of us as possible to stand up and say it’s not ok that we’re here. I also plan to coach more small business owners in PR, so that they feel capable and excited to do it themselves. PR should be accessible to everyone, not just for big businesses with big budgets, that’s one of the reasons I wanted to focus on small rural businesses in the first place and I never want to lose that, it’s a core pillar of Garnet PR.  On a day off, where would we find you? When I get a new horse I’ll likely be at the stables (waiting on that grey!). Until then I’ll be curled up on the sofa after a lovely dinner, glass of red in hand, fire on, cheesy movie, puppy snoozing and my phone on airplane mode! I try to be super present when I have time off. Where do you hope to be in ten years’ time? Hopefully, Garnet PR will be one of the UK’s leading rural PR agencies, with an arm dedicated to supporting conservation, wildlife and environmental charities. I’d like to have a fabulous team who are as passionate about supporting rural businesses as I am. On a personal note, I’d like to have a place in the country, be surrounded by animals, and just generally enjoying life while running a business which makes a difference, oh and regular champagne Fridays! Against the Clock  Canines or Equines: Oooh tough one, I really can’t choose – I’d like to have lots of both! PR Pooch Teddy is totally wonderful and we’re just about to move to a sleepy village further out in the Yorkshire countryside so I hope to get a new horse next year.  Gin or Champagne: Champagne!   Cheese or Chocolate: Cheese every time, the stronger the better!  Sunshine or Snow: I love snow but after the first flurry of excitement it can get difficult so we’ll go with sun.  Home Counties or Far Away Shores: Both! Any adventures are good with me. Rural England is special though, we have so much to explore right here on our little island.  Spend or Save: I should save but I’m a total spender – I just find it so hard to resist adventures and nice things!  Home Cooked or Eating Out: My other half, Tom, is wonderful cook so I’m really spoilt with his cooking at home, but he’s a total foodie so we also love finding new places to eat out. It’s nice to go out and not have to deal with the washing up! Music or Film: Film – although I’m a secret folk music lover!  Wellies or Heels: Both – I absolutely adore being in the country in my wellies, but after many years trotting around London in my heels I’m pretty nifty in them too!  Rhiannon Bates is the Founder and PR Director of Garnet PR.  Based in Yorkshire, Garnet PR specialises in public relations for rural lifestyle & tourism brands across the UK, as well as supporting regional clients.  From heritage to hospitality, wildlife to pets; country fashion & products, rural adventures and days out in the UK are at the heart of what Garnet PR does.  To find out more visit To keep up to date with all things PR, special offers and Rhiannon’s musings on rural life and business, sign up Garnet PR’s newsletter via the website.  Connect on  Instagram Connect on Facebook  Connect on Twitter

Chatting A Bit with The Horse Barber

With autumn leaves falling, most horse owners will soon be dusting off their clippers and preparing to give their woolly equines a much needed haircut. For Melody Hames, she has combined her passion for art and horses and is now well known as The Horse Barber. Melody has created some spectacular clipped designs on horses which have been shared widely on the internet. Not only is she a very creative clipper, Melody also specialises in dealing with horses who are anxious about the process. Sam Hobden from Haynet recently caught up with The Horse Barber to find out more about the personality behind this very creative equestrian business: Your passion for horses is incredibly strong! Were you brought up in this environment as a child? I didn’t come from an equestrian background, both my mother and father don’t ride. I started riding at the age of eight years old when one of the girls that lived on my street began taking lessons at the local riding school. She decided to stop, but I was hooked from day one! What were your childhood ambitions? Was it to always work in the equestrian industry? From an early age, I was incredibly interested in art as well as horses. I didn’t really know where I wanted to go or what I wanted to do! I would say my passion has always driven me in its own direction. I did temporarily begin dance lessons, however I quickly became quite bored and dropped them so that I could go riding more. The journey has had many changes along the way and never goes to plan, but I think that’s part of the beauty of it. In recent years you have expanded your passion of clipping horses into a business. Tell us about The Horse Barber and what are you particularly proud of about your company. The Horse Barber brand has very much evolved over time from my original startup of the business. I educated myself on barbering whether it’s on horsehair, human hair or dog hair. I developed my craft by lots of practice and experience and by keeping an open mind but ALWAYS following my gut instinct and feelings on everything.  I then coined The Horse Barber as my passion for my craft grew and grew. I am particularly proud of the service The Horse Barber provides because I get a great deal of satisfaction in working with horses that really need my help. For example, horses that have been frightened or had a bad experience, I really get a great deal of job satisfaction from seeing happy horses and happy owners. It is rewarding to see a clipped horse who has dealt with process, especially when the owners have often deemed the job impossible. I love sharing my education and helping horse owners to understand better what works for their horse.  What have been the triumphs and challenges of working in the equestrian industry?Working in the equine industry is certainly not the easiest not only are we challenged by weather elements and working outdoors but also working in an industry that has a lot of preconceived ideas about how things should be done. I pride myself in challenging concepts when it comes to clipping horses and assisting people into opening their mind to different approaches, different methods and also different styles. Education is very important to me as I strive to make a better future and constantly improve the industry when it comes to clipping horses. Your skill in clipping horses is absolutely top class! When did you start clipping in an artistic form? Thank you! In 2012 I was asked for my first design by a client. I remember thinking ‘I have never done this before what if it goes wrong?!’ But I’m very much of the attitude, say yes and worry about the ‘how’ later. Seize the opportunity and embrace the challenge that it brings. I think it’s very much my passion for art and design that has really contributed to the development of my craft. I am also quite tough on myself so always strive to be better than the day before.  What are your top tips for anyone that wants to try being more creative with clipping a horse? My advice to anybody that wants to try and be more creative when it comes to clipping horses is, try not to worry about it going wrong. It has to go wrong before you get it right. Don’t rush, take your time.  For anybody that seriously wants to pursue creative clipping , you can sign up to newsletter where I will be publishing my online training facility very soon! And importantly, enjoy it! After all the horse knows your every thought and energy, so make it happy and positive. Social media has been an incredible platform to showcase your work. Which social media network works best for your business? Social media has changed the face of society, especially for us small business owners trying to make a name for ourselves. I have seen things change massively since I began my journey. Facebook was predominantly the biggest platform, however as time has gone by one thing has changed and Instagram has grown massively! I think it’s about paying attention and being assertive whilst acknowledging that change is forever happening. So it is important to keep an open mind and move with the times. It is also so helpful to look at successful people and learn from others who thrive in what they do. Having a website is essential for anybody that wants to make their business a serious contender. Even today some people think that websites aren’t relevant but every successful business needs their own website. I think its important to keep social media in perspective, and always have a back up plan (eg website). Lastly, in the equine industry word of mouth, recommendation and your reputation is more important than anything. What are your future plans for The Horse Barber? Next up for The Horse Barber, I will be conducting interactive talks in the Live Zone at Horse Of The Year Show in October. (Please come and say hello if you are attending!) I’m incredibly excited to have been invited to this event, after all, it is the biggest horse event at the annual calendar within the UK. The recognition means a lot to me.. I have worked out in America doing demonstrations which I have thoroughly enjoyed but I must say, to be doing HOYS, on my home turf is something I am quite proud of. On a day off, where would we find you? In my spare time when I’m not working, I like to interact with my Welsh Section D whether it is in the field or out hacking. He’s my business partner, my best friend and we play tag in the field regularly. I have a lovely partner who is very supportive of the business and finally, I love shopping and finding a good bargain too! Where do you hope to be in ten years’ time? In ten years time I aim to have the most comprehensive equine clipping online training system through my website. This is for people to be able to continuously develop their grooming and horse clipping skills. This is going to be available worldwide. I very much enjoyed the demonstration side of things, so I am visualising travelling further afield with my demonstrations too!  Against the Clock  Pull A Mane or Scissor It: PULL !! Bays, Grays or Chesnuts: Has to be Chestnut ( Romeo would kill me!) Gin or Champagne: GIN and make it a Unicorn! Sunshine or Snow: Snow – being from the North West of England it’s probably a good job we never get sun. Home Counties or Far Away Shores: Both!! But I love the Northern Hills in England – it’s home. Spend or Save: Spend! Usually on my next clipper blade to experiment with. Home Cooked or Eating Out: Home cooked. I love cooking. Music or Film: Film and please make it a soppy one. Wellies or Heels: Heels – I love being a woman. Please visit: Follow on Instagram: Follow on Facebook:

Chatting A Bit with Ruth Chappell

Entering the competition arena can be a daunting place, so to compete in your own home or yard is a fantastic way of gaining confidence and experience. Ruth Chappell and two friends set up Dressage Anywhere in 2010 giving riders an opportunity to achieve their goals. It is now a worldwide competition website and a full time business. Sam Hobden from Haynet recently caught up with Ruth to find out more about the personality behind this innovative equestrian business: You are very passionate about horses, dogs and the countryside. Were you brought up in this environment as a child? Kind of! I started off life in Manchester and moved down to Gloucestershire when I was 9 years old. Part of the ‘deal’ in leaving much loved Grandparents and family behind was to start riding lessons and I held my Mum and Dad to that! I’d sat on a horse when I was much younger, a huge horse in fact, well he was huge to me but was probably only 14.2 – I’ve always been vertically challenged! So, I started riding weekly at a riding school and loved it. Then one day a friend and I cheekily asked a local private yard if we could help after school and they took us up on it. I’d be watching the clock during school time until I could leg it home, throw on my jodhs and then cycle like mad to the stables to muck out, bring some ponies in and walk the older ponies in hand. There were some lovely ponies at that yard – we were lucky enough to go to a few competitions with them and always had a weekly hack round the lanes at the weekend.  What were your childhood ambitions? Was it to always work in rural business or did you fall into this path later in life? I wanted to be a horse vet and recently discovered in my parent’s loft a folder I put together made up of old magazine clippings about horse health and various things. It turned out that Science wasn’t my strong point at school, so my focus shifted to languages and I ended up in a publishing career. By this point, I’d stopped riding and didn’t come back to it until my 30s when I discovered Geoffrey, the love of my life.  Tell us about Dressage Anywhere and why you set your own business up. What have been the triumphs and challenges? I set up Dressage Anywhere with two friends, to try and make competitive dressage more accessible to other riders. It’s been an amazing journey so far, I’ve learned so much, not just about running a business, but about myself too.  One of the major challenges was my previous career in publishing – I worked 60 miles away from home and tried my best to ride Geoffrey after work too. It was a huge juggling act and most customer queries were answered in the middle of the night or when I could snatch a few spare minutes at the weekend. I eventually left my role and became full time at Dressage Anywhere in 2015. With the number of members and entries we have now, I wouldn’t be able to juggle it with another full-time role. We run a number of Online Championship shows and have close connections with governing bodies. Our RDA Champions receive medals which we present at the RDA National Championships every year and groups around the country have really embraced this because of the opportunities it gives their riders. Our BD Online Championships are great for riders who want a Championship experience but can’t get out to live events. This has grown every year and we currently have several hundred riders who have already qualified or are on their way to qualifying for this years’ Online Championships.  Although I’d love our members to compete with us forever, I love that what we offer has given some the confidence to go out and compete at live events. Because we run all of our competitions to BD rules and we work with List 1 and 2 judges, what they experience with us online, they will experience at a live event (apart from the travelling and different environment of course). Yes, horses are always going to work better and feel more confident at home, but if we can build up people’s confidence and self-belief and they then go on to compete live because of that, well, that feels great to have to been at the start of their dressage journey.  How did the idea come about for your business? Was it a lightbulb moment or did it take a long time to come to fruition? It was a whole mixture of things really. I didn’t have a trailer or lorry and my husband used to film all my lessons and yard-run competitions and at one point our yard was on lock-down following a strangles outbreak. We’d had to pull out of a competition and cancel our hired transport and instead held the competition at our home yard by video for three of us who had planned to travel. Lucinda is a show secretary so we had all the contacts and organisational skills to set up our own competitions, plus Nereide is a BD List 1 judge which enabled us to run competitions with judges that grassroots riders wouldn’t normally have access to.  Your online business must take up many hours of the week. How do you manage to keep on track with entries, judges and ensuring rosettes are sent out correctly?! Now I’m working full time on it, it’s more manageable! One of our priorities early on was to build a system that is scalable and can handle hundreds of entries. Of course, it took some time to grow, but now we’re handling hundreds of competition and training entries every month, the automations that we put in place are really paying off. For instance, as soon as a video is uploaded, the judge assigned to that class is notified. And as soon as the test is judged, the competitor is notified with a link to download their scoresheet. It doesn’t stop there either – all of the scoreboards are automated too. It’s a very complex system that we’ve built ourselves, but it gives us a huge advantage meaning we can spend time on other areas of the business.  Social media marketing can be a challenging place. What platform works well when promoting your business and why? We have the most followers on Facebook, possibly because we’ve had a presence on it a bit longer. Instagram is growing and I try my best to make use of Instagram Stories and have even been doing bits of video to camera more recently. I think it’s important for people to see the real people behind a business, so putting myself ‘out there’ has been a thing this year and it’s so easy to do (providing I’ve brushed my hair and put my face on). I think it’s easier for followers to share our content on Facebook and I find that’s what increases our reach.  You are a huge animal lover! Tell us about your animals past and present that have been a big part of your life. I think it all started with Sherlock, the Jack Russell who used to run up to the bedroom door when I was crying as a baby. He’s long gone now but has a special place in my heart. The first horse I ever loved was Sylba, a gorgeous 14hh palomino. About the time I met him he retired so I only got to ride him once, but I used to walk him in hand in his old age.  I fell in love with Geoffrey, a Wellington Riding school horse. I rode him in a lesson and instantly loved him and when the instructor said he was for sale; it was a done deal. I wasn’t even looking for a horse, I didn’t even think I could afford one, well I can’t but you make these things work don’t you?! In some ways he reminds me of Sylba, he’s a similar size, his mother was a palomino mare and he’s got this really cute little face that I just want to squish and cuddle.  A few years later Hudson the chocolate Labrador came into our lives. I remember feeling really guilty about Geoffrey because as a puppy, Hudson took up so much of my time. The breeder and friend I bought him from said ‘horses will always be there, but dogs just have a way of getting under your skin.’ Boy, did he! When he died a few years ago I was totally devastated. But we had his nephew, Henry, also bred by a friend and he kept me going. He’s very much a Mummy’s boy but he dislikes cuddles immensely, preferring to just be close enough to keep an eye on me.  I should mention Claudius, my husband’s 18hh Holsteiner! He joined the family about a year after Geoffrey. I’ve ridden him a couple of times but his size terrifies me, so we have a fantastic relationship on the ground, or well, stood on a box on the ground so I can reach him to groom.  Harvey, also a chocolate Labrador is the latest addition, joining us last year. Whilst Henry is so laid back and chilled, we joke that Harvey is actually Hudson reincarnated but on drugs – he is completely bonkers. Last year we started gundog training – I don’t think we’ll ever go on a shoot, but I like the methods of training and the foundations that they build. It’s been a challenge! Henry at seven years old was the oldest in a puppy beginner class, but loved it, and prided himself on being the demo dog showing all the other puppies how to retrieve. He really is Mr Perfect. Harvey is a work in progress – when he’s on form, he’s amazing, but other times he just wants to do his own thing on his own terms. Although he makes us laugh every single day.  What are your future plan and goals for Dressage Anywhere? Ooh, that would be telling! We have a number of exciting plans and additions to what we offer, but I couldn’t possibly reveal those! On a day off, where would we find you? Probably at the yard with all of my boys, dog walking with friends round the local fields and then riding Geoffrey.  Where do you hope to be in ten years’ time? Do you know, I’m not actually sure! Interestingly I always struggled with this question in terms of career development when I had a proper job. I think it is because I try to live in the present and enjoy the moment. I have goals and aspirations but they’re all things I’ve broken down into small steps that I’m working on right now and are just part of normal life.  Against the Clock  Bays, Greys or Chestnuts: Chestnuts, every time! Gin or Champagne: I’m not much of a drinker so a watered-down champagne I think. Cheese or Chocolate: Chocolate, without a doubt. Sunshine or Snow: I initially said sunshine, but I’m a winter baby and there’s something about snow and dark nights in front of a wood fire that gives me a very homely feel, so I’ll go with snow (providing I don’t have to go out anywhere)!  Home Counties or Far Away Shores: Tricky one, home counties I think because I’d have to have my dogs and ponies with me (and husband – oops, he always comes third). Spend or Save: Save Home Cooked or Eating Out: Home cooked Music or Film: Music Wellies or Heels: Wellies Please visit: Follow on Facebook Follow on Instagram Header Image Credit: Karen Bennett Photography – Ruth and Geoffrey

Chatting A Bit with Katie Cardew

Sketching from her kitchen table a few years ago, little did Katie Cardew know that this would lead to a very successful illustrations business. After some small show stands, a simple website and lots of enthusiasm, Katie Cardew Illustrations has grown from strength to strength. Sam Hobden from Haynet recently caught up with Katie to find out more about the personality behind this lovely rural business:- You are very passionate about art and illustration, particularly with the love of horses and ponies at the heart of your work. Were you brought up in this environment as a child? Yes! I was brought up in rural Rutland, in a little village, so have always been at home in the countryside. My parents weren’t horsey but my sisters who are a fair bit older than me were, so I inherited their pony Shadow once they had moved onto horses. He was a dream – even for the last few years when he only had one eye! I was in the Burghley Pony Club which I LOVED – lots of my friends even now are from those days – good times. My ponies were always pretty naughty as we never had a huge budget to spend but they certainly taught me a lot of things that I think are actually very important when running a business – waking up early, being persistent and wiping yourself down when things go wrong!  What were your childhood ambitions – was it to always work in the art and illustration industry? I loved to draw but I never had any real ambitions to be an artist if I’m honest. I didn’t really know what I wanted to do, right up until the day I started the business! I did an English degree at Newcastle Uni (basically a drinking and surviving off cereal and toast degree) and then dabbled with finance in London. As soon as my graphic designer sister started sending me magazine briefs she needed illustrations for and I got my first pay cheque, I was hooked. I quickly moved back to Rutland and starting taking commissions full time.  What would be your best advice to a school leaver who is thinking of making illustration their career?  I think there are three key things to consider: One, you need a niche. There are many artists and illustrators and you need to find a style or a product that is not over-saturated in the market.  The second is to be commercial. Yes, you need to love what you are illustrating but bear in mind that to make a living from it, other people are going to have to fork out their hard-earned cash for it. Make it something that people want! If you live in a tourist town, draw illustrations of your town’s landmarks and sell the prints/cards/products to shops. If you live in a farming area, draw farm animals and take your products to local shows. Dogs, cats and horses are always winners too – people are always going to spend money on their pet or on pet related items.  The third and most important is you need to be dedicated, savvy and thick-skinned. If you want to pay the bills, you need to graft. You will need not only to hone your drawing skills but also learn about accounts, tax, websites, marketing and all the hundreds of things that go into running a business. You can do it slowly – I did. You don’t need to learn it all before you launch your business, but be aware that as you grow, there will be days where you draw and days where you are doing admin – and you have to be ok with that.  Tell us about your business and all about the team behind Katie Cardew Illustrations. We have a lovely studio in the village of Kings Cliffe in Northamptonshire, about 15 minutes from where I live. I work in two different ways – I produce bespoke commissions for people and businesses (from wedding venue illustrations for a bride and groom to huge event maps for national events) and then I also design a range of prints, stationery and homeware products that we produce and sell online, at shows and through stockists. Our studio is fab – we have one room we call the ‘workroom’ where I have a small but mighty team who do all the orders, packaging and framing, and then we have the main room, where I work and where we host workshops and Open Studio events. We are also so proud that all of our products are UK made (many locally to us), our packaging is minimal and where possible, very simple using recyclable paper packaging. We try to be as environmentally friendly as possible where we can.   What have been the triumphs and challenges of running your own business? Six years in and it’s still a huge learning curve. Every downfall has its upside though – for example, last year I had a stand at many events, from Badminton to the Game Fair, and actually, for me, the stress and colossal effort involved was too much of a price to pay. I decided that instead, we should hold our own open studios at our studio where people can come and shop and have a drink, they have been brilliant and far less stressful! Our most recent open studios was a couple of weeks ago; we had a gin van come and serve everyone the most lovely G&Ts and we decked the studio out to the rafters with prints and products for people to buy. Much easier for us and much better for the business too!  Which part of your work do you enjoy the most? I actually still love the drawing. I have done around 1600 commissions and designed around 500 products so you might think it would get dull, but I actually still love the sitting down and creating part the best. It’s so diverse too – one day I might be designing a new mug for our collection and the next I am working on a huge commercial map illustration for Henley Regatta – no two days are ever the same.  Where can we find you on the show circuit in the next few months? We will be at Burghley Horse Trials from the 5th-8th September and we can’t WAIT. The comments above about the events being extremely tiring do not apply to Burghley – this show is 10 minutes down the road from us so feels very much like home, and every little bit of effort we put in is repaid tenfold by the energy, excitement and thrill of this brilliant event. I have been coming since I was tiny as a punter and this will be our 6th year with a stand here. Our best selling ‘I’d Rather Be at Burghley’ range is bigger and better than ever this year – there will be a print, mug, tea towel, notebook, kitchen board, magnet, cosmetic bag AND tote bag in the range this year! As well as a brand new ‘A day in the life’ range which features all the things we love and hate about horses – from winning rosettes to mice in the feed bin, it’s something I hope will resonate with anyone equestrian! Our stand is in the Rural Crafts Tent (the one by the food aisle – very dangerous for us!).  What are your future plans with Katie Cardew Illustrations? We are always growing and adding new products and designs to the collection so 2020 looks to be another good year for us! I am expecting a second baby in November so Jan-March might be a tad quieter than normal but we will be back with a bang in April! On a day off, where would we find you? Taking Agnes, my four year old to her riding lesson, followed by a huge pub lunch and a walk with the family and our labrador cross springer spaniel, Tarka. That’s pretty much my perfect day!  Where do you hope to be in ten years’ time?  On a beach, with lovely, kind and not grumpy tweenagers, sipping a pina colada. Of course.  But if you’re talking in terms of the business, well I suppose doing more of what I am doing now but bigger and better! I am so happy with the trajectory of the business and the direction we’re going in – I love working with companies to produce illustrations for them and I also love producing our own range of products, so more of that please! Against the Clock  Paintbrush or Pencil: Can’t use either! I use about a million fine-liner pens a year (sorry environment but there just doesn’t seem to be an alternative!) and the rest is done on my iMac. Gin or Champagne: Gin, every time.  Cheese or Chocolate: CHEESE. The stinky, melty kind!! Sunshine or Snow: Oh god I love both. Snow right now because it’s 26 degrees outside and I’m six months pregnant so feeling the heat a bit!  Home Counties or Far Away Shores: Far away shores – I love seeing different cultures.  Spend or Save: Would like to save but generally, I spend – my four year old is very good at seeing to that!  Home Cooked or Eating Out: Gotta love my partner Jamie’s food. He’s a brilliant cook.  Music or Film: Music. Controversial comment but I don’t like films!! All about the documentary for me… Wellies or Heels: Wellies. Hate heels. Feel like I’m wearing my Mum’s shoes!  Find Katie at the Land Rover Burghley Horse Trials from 5th-8th September 2019 in the Rural Crafts Tent. Katie Cardew is Founder and Chief Illustrator at Katie Cardew Illustrations. Her studio is based on the Rutland border, a rural idyll which inspires much of Katie’s work. Katie’s passions include country life, horses and British wildlife; you’ll find these themes running through many of her collections. To browse the ranges visit To keep up to date on events, commission slots or special offers, sign up to Katie’s newsletter via the website.  Connect on Instagram:  Connect on Facebook: 

Chatting A Bit with Dolbadarn Film Horses

If equestrianism runs through your veins, then you will always watch in awe at horses that appear in film and tv series being ridden in jaw dropping stunts and situations. Training horses to work in film takes much dedication, skill and time which Dylan Jones from Dolbadarn Film Horses only knows too well. With his business successfully training and supplying professional film trained horses and riders for the television and film industry for over 40 years, Sam Hobden from Haynet recently caught up with Dylan to find out more about the personality behind this unique equestrian business:- Horses are a passion and the heart of your business. Were you brought up around horses as a child? Yes.  We had a family riding school and trekking centre which used to take guided tours into the heart of the Snowdonia range. My mother used to sit me at the front of her saddle while taking the rides out. So you can say that I was born in the saddle before I could walk. What were your childhood ambitions – was it to always work with horses in the film industry? I always loved riding the horses as a child and every summer used to practically live on the yard. Getting pocket money for helping leading out the school trips we had in, as well as ragworting the fields!… In school, I always had a flair for performing and was chosen as a lead role in various school plays. Also, being Welsh had a strong singing voice. With that, I joined the Bangor Cathedral choir gaining my singing qualifications. I went to college to study performing arts, then from there to Trinity College to study a BA in theatre studies. What would be your best advice to a school leaver who is thinking of making a career in stunt riding? What riding and personal skills are essential to work in this industry? Follow your passions!! If you’re passionate about what you want, you’ll bend over backwards to get it!  Keep active and train as hard as you can. Myself, I trained in WuShu Kwan as a child as well as judo. I was an active mountain biker and used to compete on a regular basis in the Red Kite mountain bike bash … Riding wise, I’d grown up with horses, but when I decided to diversify and make a life in horses and working in tv and film, I researched into different riding styles. I visited Portugal on a regular basis to train in classical equitation. I also trained with a horse stunt team and the horsemen of the apocalypse, gaining skills as a trick rider and basic horse stunts. Tell us about your business, how it started and about the team behind Dolbadarn Film Horses. My father and mother used to supply horses and riders back in the 70’s and 80’s for film productions. Then while in college studying theatre studies, I got a call from my agent asking if I’d be interested in riding on an NBC movie, Merlin (1997). I jumped at the chance!!  While working with the horse stunt team ( The Devils Horsemen), I was so inspired by the level of training and skill set, that I decided to diversify. I’d grown up with horses and I also had a passion for performing. So, after a little research found out there were two main big horse teams London based, but none in Wales! So there was a niche in the market. As my family had supplied horses in the past for film productions, it seemed like a natural road to go down. Twenty two years later, I’m still doing what I love and have built up an equine family on our yard that put a smile on my face every day.  What have been the triumphs and challenges of running such a unique equestrian business? Challenges!!  There’s been plenty. The film and television industry is a closed shop. For many years it was hard to break into the bigger productions. Luckily, when I started off  S4C ( welsh language C4) gave me a lot of work as a horse master and supplier on their period productions. So I gained a lot of my initial experience from there. Over the years, my reputation grew and bigger production companies started to call. During the early years,  I worked many sideline jobs just to make ends meet to pay for my training, horses and tack that I built up bit by bit. Triumphs! Well, the most memorable triumphs are when I see my horses and teams final work on the screen . A proud moment. The most memorable would be working on the BBC’s Merlin series a few years back. Working closely with such a wonderful cast and crew over the years made memories which will last forever. Tell us about the horses that you work with. What is the key characteristic you look for in a horse to use for stunt riding and film work? We have two types of trained horses: The actor trained horse – These horses are docile and intelligent. They are chosen and trained so they look after the artists that ride them, whatever the riding ability of that artist is. They understand to go from position A to end position B as many times as the shot requires, without putting a foot wrong. The second type is the action horse: These horses are fully trained rider horses. The horses are very sharp and “ push button”. These are the horses you’ll seeing charging into a battle scene, rearing up… Going headfirst into a wall of fire etc … Both types are chosen for their bold characters, intelligence and willingness to learn and work as a team member. Which film that you and your horses have worked on, is one that you are very proud of and why? I have a few which stand out. Obviously, the BBC’s Merlin Series as I stated in a previous answer. But we’ve also supplied horses for the London based horse teams on big blockbusters such as Robin Hood, War Horse and more recently, Game of Thrones “ Battle of the Bastards” episode. All of which have been very memorable mainly because of the hard work and passion everyone puts into making these productions what they are. As I mentioned earlier on … it is a closed shop, so to speak. But you tend to work alongside the same people time and time again, to the point you trust the team as though they are family. I suppose when you have your own horses on these productions too and see how well they perform (most of the time), you do have a sense of pride in knowing that you did something right. Which film have you have worked on with your team of horses recently that we should look out for? We were approached by Bad Wolf and HBO last Summer to work on HBO’s new up and coming series, The Watchmen which is due to be aired this autumn. I worked as horse master and supplied the horses and carts with my team. This production was also filmed close to our HQ in North Wales. So for many reasons, we are all looking forward to seeing it! What are your future plans for Dolbadarn Film Horses? We plan to move the business to a bigger complex in the near future (keeping in North Wales) and develop training courses gearing up for artists, as well as action riders to further their equine skills ready for the screen. We are also training in house to devise and put out an equestrian theatre stunt show/display next season. Firstly at the new complex, once established we plan to take it out as a touring event in the future. We also have some lovely well bred stallions here that I’d like to start a breeding programme with. The aim is to breed well-tempered performing horses for the industry as well as interested clients. We have a business plan in place, so once we move the team we can start putting these ideas into place. Then lastly, to obviously carry on supplying horses and trained riders for up and coming productions. We are only a small team in comparison to the larger London based teams so want to concentrate on Welsh based productions and the North West. Then when the bigger productions happen, carry on the tradition of supplying any extra horses and working alongside the London based stunt teams … On a day off, where would we find you? Day off ?? Ha ha …. I don’t get one. I’m on the yard every day unless I’m away filming. It’s not a job… it’s a lifestyle. Where do you hope to be in ten years’ time? Think I answered that in another answer. Basically , still doing what I do. Settled in the new complex. Having a strong team around me and making sure the horses are finely tuned and happy for any up and coming jobs. Oh … by then, I might have time to start a family so when I’m old the next generation can take over the reins, so to speak!  Against the Clock  Bay, Greys or Chestnuts: A nice royal bay or a black  DVD or Streaming: Both Beer or Champagne: Vodka Sunshine or Snow: Sun Home Counties or Far Away Shores: Depends Spend or Save: Bit of both Home Cooked or Eating Out: Both Please visit: Dolbadarn Film Horses Follow on FACEBOOK Follow on INSTAGRAM Header Image Credit: Sian Davis

Chatting A Bit with Black Nova Designs

With the internet being a huge part of life and websites being main information tools, it can be frustrating and time absorbing when technology fails. Having a website is key in all aspects of business, networking and blogging but having the know-how in dealing with technological issues is best left to the professionals. Black Nova Designs specialises in IT solutions for home & business providing web design and web hosting. They look after Haynet keeping the website ticking along nicely for you all to enjoy! Sam Hobden recently caught up with Kyle and Danielle to find out more about the personalities behind Black Nova Designs: Your love of animals comes through very strong! Were you both brought up with animals and horses as children? Oh yes! Kyle was brought up with the ‘usual’ family pet dog, an Alaskan malamute, called Skye. He also had a snake, chinchilla and rat. There were definitely no horses in Kyle’s childhood, truth be known I don’t think he’s all that keen on horses.   I, on the other hand, grew up with ponies, dogs, fish and rabbits. Ponies were my first true love, we had one lovely pony on loan when I was little. I say lovely, she was lovely on her terms.   Next came Duke, my bay 13.2hh pony. I was around 11years old when he came, he was super awesome and put up with a lot. My pony interest grew and I went on to work at a number of event yards, riding schools and hunt yards.   I went on to own a few TB’s including Benson, who thought he was a cob. So docile, understanding and fun. Benson was incredible, so gentle with Zoe and a real pleasure. We also had a family dog Jasper, whom many of you know sadly passed away January 2018. He was our superstar Border terrier, a big personality caught up in a small dog’s body.  After losing Jasper we couldn’t face a new puppy around, so now in our ‘spare time’ we look after our friend’s dogs while they are on holiday. I have also helped friends with behavioural issues with their canine friends as well. The joy a happy dog brings to a family is incredible.  My mum also still has two ponies that I help out with now and then, they have also featured in a few of our social posts. The incredible Golden King (aka Pablo) her 14.2hh Palomino pony. Mum has owned him from a yearling and with the help of many has trained him up to be a little competition powerhouse. The bond they have is so special.  Then we have Frankie, a filly bought from Ireland last year who was totally wild. With a lot of patience and time, mum has trained her to the point she now trusts us all to lead her, cuddle her and start handling her. Training the ponies from young brings a special bond and gives us such a sense of achievement. That’s just a brief insight, being animal lovers there is never really a time where we are too far away from some fluffy friends. Was it always an ambition to run your own business?  Were you encouraged to have a career working for yourself? For Kyle, absolutely not. He grew up wanting to be a pilot in the RAF and he did very well pursuing that dream until he was dismissed on medical grounds, but the love for computers started very early. He built his first custom built pc at the age of 8 years old.   After leaving RAF training Kyle needed a new purpose. He didn’t have really any support to start his own business, no family or friends thought he would make it. He was often being told he wouldn’t be good enough, he would never make it work or that he would give it up after a short while.   He was determined, he ignored them and kept the business going. He did find several full time jobs within the IT industry to ensure his knowledge and expertise were up to date while spending time in the evenings and weekends building on his skills. Kyle completed his Princes Trust course in Business, learnt loads and made his first business plan. We still have that plan, it’s filed away and we refer back to it every time we like to reflect on how far we have come.   Me, I never dreamed of running my own business! I grew up with no idea what I wanted to do, maybe work with animals, maybe a mounted police officer, or a dog handler, maybe a groom. I was around 18 when someone told me if you qualify to be an accountant you can earn lots of money – that sounded like a good plan, so I studied for my AAT accountancy degree.   To cut a long story short, it wasn’t for me, I was bored, I missed being outside and enjoying time with the ponies. I always had family around me who are my support network. My family have always been unbelievably supportive of everything I do. Their best advice is: ‘try your best at everything you do’, you don’t have to be the winner you just have to know that you tried.   Time moved on and I was a single mum. I met Kyle and found out about Black Nova Designs and read the business plan and just thought WOW! This has potential, we could do this and make something together building the dream business, helping others while making sure our family and kids were put first.  Tell us about when your interest in IT started? Did you want to work in this area when you both left school? Kyle has been an IT geek from around 8 years old, building PCs and was a competitive online gamer at a young age. Oh and there was that time where he took over the schools wireless network as a teenager! Turns out he knew about wireless networks and security even back then.  Kyle has a special skill, he just loves it all! He loves problem solving, he gets pleasure from fixing problems that are just too technical for us ‘normal’ people.  Me, my interest in IT I don’t think ever started (oops maybe I shouldn’t say that). In reality the reason I started to help in this business is because IT and computers HATE me! There isn’t one I haven’t managed to not break yet – even my own work ones, Kyle genuinely thinks I’m cursed.   But that helps me understand how much our clients have issues, how unbelievably frustrating it is when things don’t work the way you expect them to when your website just isn’t listening and your PC takes forever to load and open.  Was it an easy step setting up Black Nova Designs or a scary one?  Well, we registered with companies house and become a Limited company from the beginning. Setting up was easy, getting the work in was a bit different, and setting prices was again another big challenge.    SThere have been many lessons to learn. The biggest lesson was that not everyone will support you, not everyone will be your ideal client, and that is ok.    Tell us about the triumphs and the challenges of running your own business? Oh wow, there are so many! Triumphs: winning the best website design agency Wiltshire 2018 and 2019 has got to be one of the biggest highlights. And then there is moving into our first ever office premises. The company has grown from strength to strength, which is all thanks to our amazing team, family and support network. The biggest challenge is keeping up with the kid’s very hectic social schedule, school runs and time management.  Being a husband and wife team, is it easy to work together? Tell us about the Black Nova team. Is it easy to work together – ABSOLUTELY NOT! The team do a great job of mediation, it requires a lot of tea, Domino’s ordering and disco dancing in the office … There are days when one of us will work from the office and one will work from home, its best that way! Social media might portray we are 100% working together all the time, but we will let you into a secret, working together is so hard!  We do our best to have very separate job roles and not interfere. Truth be told I think Kyle prefers site visits than being in the office anyway.  To be fair, we do make it work better than you might imagine. We motivate each other on the rough days, and we understand each other’s struggles (mostly) and know when we need an ego boost or time out.  The rest of our team are incredible! Sasha, Melissa and Jana are incredible website designers. We also have a few other amazing contractors that help with onsite work and remote support – the team is the most important part of the business to us. Without them we couldn’t do what we do. Most of our staff are part-time but we truly rely on them. They always provide work and services that we are proud of. We stand by our team – without them, we wouldn’t be where we are today.  What are your future plans with Black Nova Designs? Grow, bigger and better. Kyle will be sitting his Ubiquiti Unifi Wireless installer certification very shortly, among his other talents, he will then be a qualified wireless installer. Some of the staff will be increasing their work hours over the next few months and our 5 year plan is to have a much larger office, with more work stations for network builds, PC repairs and maybe some additional tech geeks in the office full time. Future plans are to release Kyle of being the ‘god of all knowledge’ and have a number of expert employees in each sector.  On a day off, where would we find you both? With the kids enjoying a family day out, enjoying the outdoor sunshine, or just relaxing at a spa. Family time is treasured, when we get an extra chance to spend time with the kids we take it.  Where do you both hope to be in ten years’ time? Running the company from a yacht in the Bahamas … only joking ☺ We would love to open branches of the company around the county, bringing more of the knowledge and IT care to more people. Kyle has plans for himself and the team to take more certifications and accreditations. He wants the team to provide the best possible service to all clients and always continuing to push us all to be the best version of ourselves we can be.  Against the Clock  Planes, Trains or Automobile: Automobile Beer or Champagne:  Beer Cheese or Chocolate: Chocolate Sunshine or Snow:  Sunshine Home Counties or Far Away Shores: Far Away Shores Spend or Save: Spend PC or Mac: PC Home Cooked or Eating Out: Eating Out Music or Film: Music (yes we both had the exact same answers against the clock as each other) Please visit: Connect on Facebook: Connect on Instagram: Connect on Twitter:

Chatting A Bit with Wriggly Tin Wine

Many will agree that equestrian life and a bottle of wine sit quite comfortably together! With her wine background and love of horses, Sarah Whitford decided to set up the Wriggly Tin Wine Co, a home delivery service bringing top quality wine to your door. Sam Hobden from Haynet recently caught up with Sarah to find out more about the personality behind the Wriggly Tine Wine Co:- You have a strong passion for equestrian life. Were you brought up in this environment as a child?I grew up in the New Forest so ponies were all around us. It took a few years of me galloping around the house with my hobby horse until my parents finally gave in and sent me for riding lessons. They bought me my first pony when I was 11 and we spent all our time riding bareback in the New Forest jumping the heather bales, gorse bushes and going to the beach at Calshot. What were your childhood ambitions? Did you head to college or university or straight to the working world?I didn’t have a clue what to do when I left school, I spent a few years as an air hostess and then worked in bars and restaurants before taking a job with a brewery selling beer. My parents owned a wine bar so wine was always in my blood and I transferred to the wine side of the brewery, selling wine to pubs, restaurants and hotels. Your current business is the wonderfully named The Wriggly Tin Wine Co. Tell us why you chose that name? It came about a bit by accident, we moved into our house just over 10 years ago and with it inherited a ramshackle old barn. I wanted it dismantled but my husband, Steve, thought it would be useful so repaired it and tidied it up. Over the years it’s had all kinds of purposes; we’ve used it as stables for the horses and stored bikes, logs and all manner of other equipment in it. We always called it the Wriggly Tin Barn, and as the perfect place for us to convert to our wine store, the name was obvious from there.   What were the reasons for shifting direction into the wine business?  What have been the triumphs and challenges of running your own wine company?I left the wine industry when we moved to Lincolnshire in 2007 and since then have been more and more frustrated by what wine the supermarkets have to offer. It’s so mass produced and the shops have no identity with the wine they sell. One afternoon a few of the girls and I were having a glass of wine (obviously!) around the kitchen table and we started talking about wine, they were fascinated to know more of what I knew. They asked if I could select wines for them and come along to dinner parties to discuss them. So that’s where it all began really! We’re in our third year of trading now and at the beginning, we tried all channels to sell our wines, (website, Amazon, tastings, shows, face to face) now we are getting to know what works for us and our clients, and the future is looking a lot more simplistic.  Do you think the equestrian and wine industry can sit together easily? I know for sure that after a hard day on the yard there’s nothing like putting your feet up with a nice glass of wine. People with horses have very little time/desire to go to the shops and spend hours wondering what to pick but want to make sure they have something nice in the pantry to enjoy at the end of the day, to share with friends over an impromptu supper or to serve at dinner parties. With our home delivery service, flexibility to react to people’s wants and needs, and extras like pairing tips and advice when people are looking for a wine, I’m certain there’s a companionship to be had. We’re already seeing it in our home county from people we know! How has your equestrian experience and knowledge helped sell the wine “lifestyle” through your company?A horse doesn’t just arrive at a competition with all the tools to win. There are hours of training and hard work that go into them, and even with all the training in place sometimes it doesn’t quite work out on the day. Wine is a bit like that, you can have a passionate, knowledgeable winemaker with all the right tools but if the weather hasn’t been good there’s only so much they can do on the day. This is what I like about wines they change all the time, some years are better than others and sometimes they are extraordinary. Plus, I know what it’s like after a day out in the mud, wind and rain with a tricky horse, sometimes a good glass of wine is just what you need!  What are your future plans and goals for The Wriggly Tin Wine Co?We’d like people to feel that they don’t just buy wine from us, they buy the story of the bottle, what we think and know of the wine, and where it fits into their lifestyle.  One of our biggest goals is to get to know our clients and what they like so we can make personalised recommendations throughout the year. We’ve just launched our Kings membership club and this is a big part of what we offer, the personal touch is what we pride ourselves on. Knowing what people want, when they want it, sometimes even before they do!  On a day off, where would we find you? On the yard with my horses or at an event, if I’ve had time to get them fit. Otherwise, I’ll be in the kitchen cooking. Where do you hope to be in ten years’ time? In a lovely French villa in the Loire with my feet up and a great glass of wine in hand!  Against the Clock  Equines or Canines: Hard one – can’t choose has to be both Red, White or Rose: White  Cheese or Chocolate: Chocolate all day long Sunshine or Snow: Sunshine Home Counties or Far Away Shores: Home  Spend or Save: Spend Home Cooked or Eating Out: Home cooked  Music or Film: Music Wellies or Heels: Wellies Sarah Whitford is Founder, Partner and Chief Wine Taster at The Wriggly Tin Wine Company based in Lincolnshire, delivering to people, pubs and restaurants nationwide. Her other passion is horses and you’ll often spot her judging at national show jumping competitions.  To keep up to date on special offers or to become a member of Kings, The Wriggly Tin Wine members club, and receive 20-40% off all wines, visit Connect on Instagram: Connect on Facebook  

Chatting A Bit with David Wright

When David Wright repaired a desktop calculator two decades ago, little did he know that it would turn into a business using computer components creating stunning recycled art. Electrickery was born and David is now one of the famous faces that can be found in London’s’ Spitalfield Market selling his nature inspired art. Sam Hobden from Haynet recently caught up with David to find out more about the personality behind Electrickery and his impressive artwork: Your artistic eye comes through strong with your work. Have you always enjoyed being creative? Yes, for as long as I can remember. I was never academic but felt enjoyment creating three dimensional things. Was it always an ambition to run your own business?  Were you encouraged to have a career working for yourself? I studied architecture, gaining a degree & diploma, which I loved. However, the reality of practising architecture was a disappointment, especially when I was designing prisons. I never planned to work for myself but this was during the recession in the early ’90s when it was difficult to find work. There is more creativity in what I do now so I’m happy. I don’t see what I do now as work. Tell us about how you started using recycled circuit boards and turning them into creative artwork. I started recycling PCBs (printed circuit boards) in 1999. I got the idea when trying to repair a desktop calculator. I couldn’t repair it but did notice how beautiful the circuit board inside it was. It had a wonderful translucency where the copper tracks stood out against the fibre glass board they were etched onto. I started making lamps and have never looked back. Soon I had ideas for other pieces like cufflinks and jewellery. I now also make framed dragonflies, butterflies and other bugs using PCBs and other computer components. Where do you source the components for your work? Is it just computer parts that you work with? Many different places. Usually directly from the manufacturers. I’d cold call them to ask what they did with their scrap and if I could have it. However, less is made in the UK now so I look elsewhere.  What is the most enjoyable part of your work?  That it’s not work, it’s fun. I also enjoy people’s reaction when they work out what the bugs are made from. Many say that from a distance they look like real bugs. I also love coming up with new ideas and then creating them. Making ideas real is fun. Tell us about the triumphs and the challenges of running your own business? The satisfaction of making a living doing what I enjoy. Participating in some great art shows where I’ve created installation pieces. Being on the cover of the Independent Newspaper with one of my PCB light installations. Competing with cheap mass produced products made in other countries probably under poor working conditions. Plagiarism is rife. I used to participate in trade shows but my ideas were copied and mass produced more cheaply and of a really poor quality. You can be found in the famous Spitalfields Market in London selling your artwork. Do you find selling face to face is more enjoyable and productive than online trade? Yes of course. I’m not a geek. Selling online bores me but I have no choice but to embrace it. I have met some fascinating people whilst selling my work. I’ve traded at most markets in London. I started in Camden in 1992 but left in 2008. I’ll only trade at Spitalfields now. The other markets like the high street, retailers are dying. Spitalfields is also struggling but I enjoy it there. What are your future plans with Electrickery? Who knows? Most of my ideas are pure accident, which I love, so I never know what’s next. I have few restrictions. I used to make peeled banana shaped candles. I might take it away to another country for health reasons and if this country goes further to the right politically. On a day off, where would we find you? It depends a lot on the weather. Swimming is my passion. I used to train twice a day. Love it. I try to go scuba diving as much as possible but after a diving accident off Sark years ago, I only dive in easy conditions abroad. Where do you hope to be in ten years’ time? Happy, healthy and in New Zealand. My mum emigrated from NZ to the UK when she was young. I haven’t been there for a long time and I feel the pull. Against the Clock  Planes, Trains or Automobile: Trains Beer or Champagne: Beer but… Cheese or Chocolate: Both Sunshine or Snow: Sunshine every time! Home Counties or Far Away Shores: Land of the Long White Cloud, NZ. Spend or Save: In the middle. Home Cooked or Eating Out: Depends who’s paying 🙂 Music or Film: Both. Please visit: Follow Electrickery on Instagram: Follow Electrickery on Facebook: Follow Electrickery on Twitter:

Chatting A Bit With Ashley Rossiter

If you follow Haynet and the Equestrian and Countrystyle Blogger of the Year Awards, you will be familiar with judge Ashley Rossiter from MirrorMePR. In a recent announcement, the awards have been split into two sectors with MirrorMePR taking over being the host and running of the Equestrian Blogger/Vlogger of the Year Awards. Sam Hobden from Haynet recently caught up with Ashley to find out more about the force and personality behind MirrorMePR, an award winning public relations & social media marketing agency: You have a strong passion for fashion, style and rural life. Were you brought up in this environment as a child? “We didn’t grow up in a particularly rural area, but we had a large garden, and there were plenty of fields and horses at the end of my road, so I spent much of my time in the great outdoors! I suppose my passion for fashion and style came from my parents; My mother was always very stylish, and my father was a music producer, so they were pretty cool growing up!.” What were your childhood ambitions? Was it an easy route to head into a career in fashion, or was it a tough road? “I knew I wanted to work in the fashion industry very early on. I loved creative writing as well, so I decided I wanted to work as a fashion journalist at quite a young age. My parents were very supportive in my career choice, but the careers officer at my school wasn’t so keen and suggested I choose a ‘secretarial role’ instead of chasing after something ‘unobtainable’. That made me even more determined! I didn’t know anyone in fashion, but I knew I wanted to do something along those lines, so I went to London College Of Fashion, studied fashion journalism and ended up styling celebrities and writing for mainstream women’s magazines as well as regularly presenting on TV for various fashion slots. PR came later and was a natural side-step, given my journalist and stylist experience, and I love it!” What advice would you give a school leaver that wanted a career particularly in the area of equestrian and rural marketing and PR? “Don’t give up!  My career path didn’t always go smoothly (I started in PR when I left college but ended up diversifying into styling, and that was the route that took me to where I am now!). Stay focused but be prepared to be adaptable too! Also, you really have to believe in the products you promote – if you don’t you’ll struggle to sell them into the press! I personally love luxury, fashion, horses and pets so have built our company’s USP’s in those areas.” Tell us about MirrorMePR and why you set your own business up. What have been the triumphs and challenges? “Again, circumstances changed, so I went from freelance to setting up my own agency by chance. The triumphs? Growing brands and being part of their journeys and helping small start-ups at the very beginning of theirs with our small business coaching services. The challenges? Like all business, we have had our challenges but nothing which can’t be solved by a strong cuppa and a slice of cake!” You have worked in the fashion industry for many years and in television. How has this experience and knowledge helped run your own business in PR and consultancy? “Having been on the ‘other side of the fence’ means that I understand journalists and brands and the way they like to work and their expectations of the PR & marketing relationship. With video a growing medium, having presented on camera and also directed behind the scenes, I help our clients with their on-camera delivery. Some people are just naturally good on camera but for most people, help and training in this area can really make the difference when presenting the right brand persona. My styling skills also come in handy on shoots too (you’d be amazed at how many uses a bulldog clip has on a photoshoot!)” Social media marketing is a challenging place to be at the moment! What do you feel is the future of promoting a brand socially? “Video content is king, but anything live is also a big winner. Creating and developing your brand personality is essential. And my advice – get someone with the expertise and knowledge to manage your social media if you can – you’ll get your life and your sanity back!” You are a huge animal lover! Tell us about your animals past and present that have been a big part of your life. “Oh gosh, I’ve had the joy of numerous horses in my life since my early 20’s – owned, shared and loaned but all loved very much! I didn’t have a pony as a child, but that didn’t stop me having my own full grooming kit (To be used when I went for my weekly riding lesson at my local riding school of course?!). My first horse coming back into riding as an adult was Jack, an ex-racehorse. Let’s say I learnt a lot from Jack – mostly how to ride correctly!! Dogs have always been part of my life too, and my first dog Jeff, a Jack Russell  X Chi is now an old man but still chasing squirrels at 17 (when they are near enough for him to spot!).” What are your future plans and goals for MirrorMePR? “To continue to deliver an unrivalled service to our clients and have fun along the way!” On a day off, where would we find you? “Brunch/Lunch/Afternoon Tea somewhere nice, mostly eating.” Where do you hope to be in ten years? “Enjoying the job as much as I do now!” Against the Clock Bays, Greys or Chestnuts: Ohhh bays because they’re easy to keep clean but Greys because when they are clean – they look epic!! Gin or Champagne: Champagne (re-affirming the ‘Ab Fab’ stereotype) Cheese or Chocolate: Can I have both? I do love a good cheeseboard though… Sunshine or Snow: Being horsey – it has to be sunshine! Home Counties or Far Away Shores: Love the home counties but with sunshine, not snow, please. Spend or Save: Err best not ask my accountant that one! Home Cooked or Eating Out: Eating out as I cannot cook anything edible past pasta or pizza. Music or Film: Music to sing, run, dance and unwind to. Wellies or Heels: Wellies every time – especially for festivals or at work events. Ashley Rossiter is MD of Award-Winning Equestrian, Country & Lifestyle PR & Social Media Marketing agency, MirrorMePR. With over 30 years of industry experience, Ashley was a fashion and celebrity stylist, TV fashion presenter and fashion journalist writing for numerous women’s magazines, prior to working in PR. Her claim to fame is appearing in an Ant & Dec pop video.Please visit: Follow on Instagram: Follow on Facebook:

Chatting A Bit with Alicia Hawker

Deep in the Gloucestershire countryside is Gardners Farm, where you can find this year’s best U25 Badminton winner Alicia Hawker producing and training event horses. Having moved through the British Eventing Pony, Junior, Young Rider and CCI3*-S programmes, 24 years old Alicia is now competing internationally at CCI5*. Samantha Hobden from Haynet recently caught up with Alicia in its Chatting A Bit series to find out more about the story behind this up and coming eventing star:  You have a strong passion for equestrian life and the sport. Were you brought up in this environment as a child? I grew up on our family farm. My granddad used to breed and train racehorses, and my parents used to ride out for him. By the time I was born all the racehorses were gone but I had a 10.2hh very naughty pony called KitKat! What were your childhood ambitions? Was it to always work with horses? I loved horses and always wanted to ride. By the time I was about 14 I had my heart set on eventing full time. You have a first class degree in Sports Performance Bsc (Hons). How has this helped with your eventing career? The modules included lots of psychology, nutrition, s&c. I also wrote my dissertation on the relationship between fear and risk in Eventing. It was really interesting reading the research in other high risk sports – psychology has always interested me. What advice would you give a school leaver that wanted an equestrian career particularly eventing at top level? Work hard and set your own goals. Don’t get too worried about what everyone else is doing and prepare yourself/and your horse properly for each competition. Tell us about the rise of your equestrian career. What have been the ups and downs? There have been many ups and downs! When I was about 19/20 years old, I fell off on XC a few times that year. Although it was a big down year, I learnt more from that year than the previous eight! It completely changed how I approached and rode XC. I am so grateful for the help my trainer Rhian Jones gave me that year, and also some lessons with Lucinda Green were invaluable. Congratulations on being the best U25 at Badminton this year! Was it easier to compete at Badminton for a second time? It was less of a whirlwind! I loved every second – the XC doesn’t get any easier though! Ha Tell us about your super ride Charlie and the team that are behind you. My grandad very kindly bought me Charlie when I was seventeen. He was a very unruly five year old! I remember his first BE90, he stood and reared at the top of a step…. it had already taken us six months to get him going into water before the first event! He is now one of the best XC horses on the circuit. He was always so bold and clever, just a bit opinionated to start! He is now the sweetest, kindest horse to have around, my mum and her friend hack him out all the time. He’s still a bit tricky on the flat but has always lived to jump. The bigger, more challenging course the better! Lewis is a super groom and looks after Charlie day to day and at competitions. Charlie gets some next level pampering!  On a day off, where would we find you? Sleeping mostly haha … it depends how busy we’ve been. Sometimes a rest and hiding from the weather is priority. Otherwise it would be a festival, downhill mountain biking or wakeboarding with my boyfriend! I love going on an adventure each year and up to the mountains for some snowboarding. Where do you hope to be in ten years’ time? In ten years I would have hoped to have ridden on a senior team and produced more horses to 5* level – maybe win one ha! Against the clock: Bays, Greys or Chestnuts: Chestnuts Champagne or Gin: Gin Cheese or Chocolate: Chocolate Sunshine or Snow: Snow Home Counties or Far Away Shores: Far Away Shores Spend or Save: Save Home Cooking or Eating Out: Eating Out Music or Film: Music  Wellie or Heels: Neither – trainers!  Please visit: Follow on Facebook:

Chatting A Bit with Honest Riders

Honest Riders started life in 2017 by founder Zoe Kiff. With her experienced marketing background, Zoe designed and created a range for real riders with the ethos that equestrian style should not just look good but actually do good too! All of their slogans raise money for equine charities and their products are fair wear certified, organic cotton and sweatshop free. Samantha Hobden from Haynet recently caught up with Zoe in its Chatting A Bit series to find out more about the story behind this ethical equestrian brand: Your passion for horses is incredibly strong!  Were you brought up in this environment as a child? I was indeed! My Mum rode as a child and then was able to pass that passion on to me and my sister. We were lucky enough to grow up riding some fantastic ponies and I competed in pretty much every discipline I could, from Mounted Games to eventing, to polo! I was horse-obsessed (still am, to be honest). Eventually, university and a career in London took over and I focused in on dressage, which remains my passion today. What was your childhood ambition? Was it to always work in the equestrian world? I wanted to be an eventer! We used to visit Burghley Horse Trials every year and I’ll never forget watching Mary King on King William flying around and thinking that it was the best thing ever. Unfortunately, my parents didn’t necessarily agree so I ended up at University studying Business Management and then started a career in advertising, in London. I never thought I’d be able to get to the point of making a living from horses, but slowly that dream is coming back to me, albeit in a different form! Your career background is in marketing but in the last couple of years, you have diversified into the clothing side of the equestrian industry. What made you step into this area of the business? I’ve always had an interest in design and fashion and had this feeling that the equestrian ‘fashion’ that existed just didn’t suit my style. I had ideas floating around in my head for years, but It was only after I moved to the South Coast and started marketing consultancy that I had the headspace to be able to take the leap and do something about it. Tell us about Honest Riders and its vision. What are you particularly proud of with your company? Honest Riders was started because I felt there was a genuine gap in the market for a brand that had good solid ethical values at its heart. Our ethos is that equestrian style shouldn’t just look good, it should do good as well. As an animal and nature lover, I found myself feeling frustrated about the impact we’re having and have had on our planet (I confess, I’m the one that sits on the sofa crying at David Attenborough’s ‘Our Planet’) When we first set up, I spent time thinking about and investigating how we could be more sustainable in everything we do. We’ve now created a campaign called #RidersOnAMission which is all about the impact we have, as an equestrian community, on the environment around us and how we can club together to make changes for the better. We really want to represent an uprising in the equestrian world; We’ve pledged to source our garments from factories that subscribe to the ‘Fair Wear Foundation’ and use fabrics that are environmentally friendly. We’re endeavouring to reduce plastic consumption and use sustainable materials in everything we do – from the packaging, your order arrives in, right back to the methods used in manufacturing our goods. I think I’m most proud of the charity donations we’re able to make through the sale of our clothing range. A portion of our profits goes to 3 nominated charities: World Horse Welfare, Retraining Of Racehorses and Pablos Horse Sanctuary. I went and visited one of the WHW Centres, Glenda Spooner Farm and saw first-hand the positive impact our donations make to the lives of horses and ponies and need. It makes me choke up just thinking about it! What has been the up and downs of working within the clothing side of the equestrian industry? So many highs and so many lows – it’s a real rollercoaster. The highs have to be meeting customers and getting their feedback on our range – when someone messages me without prompt to say how much they love our clothing, oh gosh, it makes it all worthwhile! There are lots of challenges in running a clothing company, but the lowest lows are usually linked to suppliers letting us down. Managing the relationships with them has to be the hardest part of my job! What would be your key advice for a school leaver that wanted to work in the equestrian industry? Be prepared to work your butt off for what you love. Big life lesson for me, no one will hand you anything on a plate, you have to be prepared to put in the hours, take risks and go the extra mile. No one can argue with hard work and determination. What are your future plans for Honest Riders? Sustainability will very much stay at the heart of everything we do in the future and I think that has lots of ‘legs’ in terms of the direction we could take it in. I feel really strongly about breaking industry norms and doing things other equestrian brands have not yet done. Watch this space! On a day off, where would we find you? Day off! What is that? 😉 Any spare time I have is usually dedicated to riding, but If I manage to, I love going abroad to spend time with my husband who sails race yachts in exotic locations for a living! Where do you hope to be in ten years’ time? In New Zealand with a farm full of horses and dogs! I’d love to grow Honest Riders and expand internationally, so maybe this dream could work quite nicely? Against the Clock  Beer or Champagne:  Champers darling! Sunshine or Snow:  Sunshine, I’m solar-powered. Home Counties or Far Away Shores: Far away shores. I’m married to a New Zealander and we have grand plans to move there one day… Spend or Save: Spend! Let’s just say my saving abilities are a ‘work in progress’… Home Cooked or Eating Out: Eating out. Mostly because I have no interest in cooking! Music or Film: Music. I always have some on in the background. Wellies or Heels: Wellies. My feet can’t take the pain these days! Please visit: Find Honest Riders on Facebook Follow Honest Riders on Instagram

Chatting A Bit with Mulberry Tree At Home

Cheshire based Sharon Howe and her partner Kevin Hinds recently started Mulberry Tree at Home selling their own hand made home furniture and accessories with a strong countryside theme.  Sharing their British country lifestyle ideas and inspirations, their new business harnesses their rural passion through their products that suit any classic country home, rustic farmhouse, sporting and equestrian home. Samantha Hobden from Haynet recently caught up with Sharon and Kevin in its Chatting A Bit series to find out more about the story behind the brand: You have a strong passion for the countryside and equestrian life. Were you both brought up in this environment as a child? Not really. Kevin lived at the seaside as a child and his parents were self-employed small business owners so were always busy. He says that the closest he got to the countryside was cross-country running and playing football and rugby on school fields. As for me, although we lived in a semi-rural area, my dad was a fisherman and my mum stayed at home to look after my sister and I as Dad was often away at sea. When he was at home, my dad sometimes took us down to the boat when he was cleaning or repairing it and we spent many happy hours outdoors. He also loved a bet on the horses and would take my sister and I to local race meetings at Chester, Bangor On Dee and Haydock Park at the weekends. My passion for horses was ignited when new neighbours moved in with horses.  They asked if I could help turning them out in the morning and bringing them in in the evening.  I fell in love immediately and offered to also help with mucking out and spent as much time around them as I could.  Strangely, perhaps because of my petite build, I was always slightly nervous around horses, which wasn’t helped when after my dad agreed to let me have riding lessons, I was bucked off a pony at the local riding school. To this day my dad loves to recount the story of how he has never seen anyone fly so far through the air as I did when that pony bucked. What were your childhood ambitions? Was it to always work in an industry that was rural based? Actually, I always wanted to work in an office. My uncle had a small business and I sometimes went to his offices to help out during school holidays. I remember he had a girlfriend who worked as his secretary and I thought she was so glamorous. I wanted to be like her. When I started learning to use a typewriter at school, I worked hard and became quite good at it. I also loved being organised and always had a complete stationary set and notepads etc. Looking back, it all seems so “old school” now, however, I loved it and my first job was in an office. In recent months you have both set up a countryside inspired lifestyle retail business? What made you step into this area of the business? Kevin has always had his own businesses and when we met, he had a limo company and I was an accountant. When we finally started living together, he moved to where I lived and because the limo business was established by the seaside and there wasn’t really much demand where I lived, we decided the limos had to go. By this time I had grown tired of doing peoples tax returns and had often thought I would like to start a business of my own so we took our time and looked around for inspiration. One weekend I asked Kevin if he wanted to come horse riding and he took to it like a duck to water. We went to Burghley together that year and absolutely loved it. The atmosphere, the shopping, the lovely people and those wonderful horses, we were hooked and have never missed a year since. Because we were at a loose end workwise, we decided to buy our first house together and looked around for a project house. We found a bungalow that had been built in 1930 on the site of an old plant nursery. It no longer had any land to speak of although the gardens were a reasonable size and the house had potential. The only problem was that it was in a complete state and needed an extension and a lot of renovation. We decided to take it on and do as much of the work as we could ourselves in the hope that we could save money and maybe turn a profit so that we could eventually get enough money to buy a house with land and fulfil what had by now become a lifetime’s ambition to have my own horse. It was during this time that we discovered we could make things. I had always loved lots of wood in houses and wanted wooden floors, doors, stairs and a country style kitchen etc. When looking for furniture we found it was difficult to find the things that we loved and after holidaying in remote cottages in Scotland, Wales and also each year when we took cottages near Burghley we had developed a real love for rustic country style barn conversions and old farmhouse interiors. Most of the furniture in these places could not be bought from shops and had been handmade by local craftsmen. We started to make our own items and received lots of encouraging comments from friends and family who suggested that we should try making them to sell. So we did just that and finally, here we are. Tell us about Mulberry Tree at Home. What are you particularly proud of with your company? The idea started as a way to simply make and sell things. Kevin had always bought and sold or traded for profit and never been too worried about building a brand for the long term which was something that I really wanted to do, so initially, we had lots of discussions about how best to proceed. It was easy to decide on products as we already knew that we loved the whole rustic look and that these items might be popular with people who shared our passion for this type of look. What came out of the blue was the idea to introduce a range of products decorated with used horseshoes. We loved the look of a huge old-fashioned wooden chest style coffee table that we had made using reclaimed pallet wood and iron hinges which sort of mimicked the current trend of fusion style furniture but in a really authentic rustic way. We thought, why not try making some items combining wood and equestrian related ironmongery which we could repurpose into truly unique items. We knew that people who have a love for something often will choose a piece for their home which reflects their passion and that the most interesting places we had stayed in always had something which told a story about the lives of people who lived had there and we knew that we would love to own pieces like that so we made some for own home. I absolutely love these things and whenever we design and make something new, the moment it comes out of our little workshop I find a place for it in our home and it becomes a treasured piece. Only then do we launch them as a new product so I know for certain that anyone who buys them will be receiving something I would be proud to have in my own home. I think that this is what I am most proud of. The knowledge that our customers will receive a feeling of genuine pleasure simply by owning a product that we have made that helps to reflect their passion and tells their story just as it does with us. What has been the up and downs of working within the retail side of the rural lifestyle industry? The ups are simply being in touch each day either via social media or face to face meetings and telephone calls with people who share the same love of rural and equestrian lifestyle. It’s wonderful to see images and videos posted on Facebook or Instagram or wherever of people walking their dogs, being with their horses or chickens or lambs (I love all animals and would love to live on a farm) or simply of them in their own homes and be able to chat and comment each day. I get to justify spending time each day outdoors with my own dogs and chickens and every Tuesday go to the local riding school for my riding lesson and then sharing my day with these lovely people from all over the world on social media. It really isn’t like a job at all is it? It’s simply a hugely enjoyable lifestyle. The downs initially were getting to grips with how to start promoting the new business.  We are OK with using computers for work but had never really understood the importance of social media to new businesses these days. It can take a long time and lots of patience to learn enough to launch a new business, especially one which is not aimed at everyone. It’s a slow process and can be frustrating, particularly trying to get to grips with knowing exactly which social media platforms to use and how to set everything up properly. I remember nearly pulling my hair out when we first tried to start a new Facebook business page and they immediately closed it down because we had inadvertently done something wrong. It took weeks to sort it out and all the time we needed to get started in order to link our brand new website with Facebook and Instagram and Messenger and other platforms. The only thing that kept us sane during this time was the incredible amount of help, support and encouragement that we received from other people on social media who have been so lovely and encouraging. Working in the retail industry can be tough. What would be your advice for a school leaver that wanted to set up their own business in retail particularly aimed at a rural audience? It can be tough, however, the first piece of advice I would offer to anyone setting up would be to do it immediately and put your heart and soul into it. Don’t wait until you think you know everything you need to know as that time will never come. You will always keep learning and that is part of growing a business. The second thing I would advise is don’t be afraid to ask for help on social media. There are loads of lovely people out there who are trying to set up retail businesses aimed at a rural audience and just about all of those who are succeeding received lots of free help and great advice from someone else online when they started and they will happily guide you too. Learn all you can about your target audience and be passionate about getting to know them on social media. Don’t worry too much initially about sales if you can afford it. It’s so much more important to learn about your audience and be open and transparent about yourself so that people can learn not just about what you do but also who you are. As they learn to trust you, they may buy from you if your product is something they are passionate about too. What are your future plans for Mulberry Tree at Home? We have an idea to launch another collection of home products to reflect another country pursuit although until we have a collection to show you we are keeping it under wraps. All I can say is I am excited about it. We also have a number of other ideas that we want to explore with Mulberry…

Chatting A Bit with Just Jodz

In December 2016, Lia Ludlow launched her new business Just Jodz. Her passion for affordable riding wear for all shapes and sizes was her inspiration in starting her own equestrian business. Since introducing her stylish, fashionable hard wearing jodhpurs and breeches, Just Jodz has grown considerably winning a Business Excellence Award last year. Samantha Hobden recently caught up with Lia in Haynet’s Chatting A Bit series to find out more about the personality behind the brand: Your passion for horses is incredibly strong!  Were you brought up in this environment as a child? Yes absolutely! My mum is one of four sisters that all rode, my dad’s sister rode, and so did both my grandmas.  My mum had me on the front of the saddle with her by the time I was six months old, and my grandma recently came riding in Vegas with me in her 70s. What was your childhood ambition? Was it to always work in the equestrian world? Yes, I wanted to be a horse vet from when I was very young, but then life happened and it never quite went in that direction. You have worked in the equestrian industry for a number of years in a variety of different ways. What would be your advice for a school leaver that wanted to work with horses? Get both practical work experience and do your exams, it will make you an all-round candidate. In the last few years, you have diversified into the clothing side of the equestrian industry. What made you step into this area of the business? I started by selling jodhpurs on eBay as a side business for some extra money.  It was a huge market, but I realised that there were no brands selling items at these prices that actually looked good.  All the cheap products were ugly, in limited sizes and colours, with unattractive photography, so I turned my eBay shop into Just Jodz, expanded my product range, and set up as a brand. Tell us about Just Jodz. What are you particularly proud of with your company? Well first I am proud of carving a place out in a competitive market, there are so many places to buy riding wear from now and I’m still grateful for every person that comes to JJ! I am proud that I give people an affordable option they, in turn, can be happy to wear without feeling they are wearing ‘cheap’ and boring clothing, and I love catering to this neglected end of the market.  My proudest moment was when I first saw a young girl leave a comment asking her mum to get her some JJs for Christmas, that was when I first realised it had become clothing people really wanted to wear. What has been the up and downs of working within the clothing side of the equestrian industry? Goodness, I could write a book on the ups and downs! The worst down is when unscrupulous manufacturers steal from you and you lose both money and a product shipment, that is very hard to deal with in the beginning.  The biggest up though is realising you create genuine value in people’s riding lives. In December I get a lot of emails from parents saying they don’t have a lot of money, but thanks to JJs prices they were able to get their daughter two pairs of jodhpurs for under the tree. I cry about once a week in December when I get those emails! It makes me want to hand out armfuls of breeches like the equestrian Oprah! What are your future plans for Just Jodz? Keep expanding our ranges to bring people the products they love, in the sizes and colours they want, and always keeping our low prices. We get a lot of requests for children and men’s ranges, so that will be in the pipeline in the next few years. On a day off, where would we find you? If it’s been a tough week I will be relaxing reading a thriller or watching a film.  If I’ve got more energy I will be having a sidesaddle lesson or in London with friends for dinner and drinks. Where do you hope to be in ten years’ time? Well apart from wanting Just Jodz to be a big, go-to equestrian brand by then, if I could still be where I am now that would actually be ideal! I am lucky to be surrounded by wonderful supportive friends and family, Just Jodz is growing and thriving, and I get to live with my lovely rescue animals. Maybe a Royal Warrant for JJ and a husband for me would be the icing on the cake though! Against the Clock  Beer or Champagne: Champagne Sunshine or Snow: Sunshine Home Counties or Far Away Shores: Far away shores Spend or Save: Save Home Cooked or Eating Out: Eating out Music or Film: Music Wellies or Heels: Heels Please visit : Facebook: Instagram:

Chatting A Bit with Hooves & Love

Horse lover and owner Emma Batcheler has a passion for finding unique gifts for her friends and family. Hooves & Love was born out of that joy buying gifts for someone special or simply treating yourself can bring. Samantha Hobden from Haynet recently caught up with Emma in its Chatting A Bit series to find out more about the story behind her brand: Being a horse mad mummy, your love for horses is strong. Were you brought up in this environment as a child? Neither of my parents are horsey but I was introduced to them when I was young by my Aunty, who had horses. I used to go riding when we went to visit my grandparents, and that soon turned into lessons at my local riding stables which then turned into pony days and the love and passion blossomed from there. What was your childhood ambition? Was it to always work in the equestrian world? I really wanted to be in the Mounted Police when I was a child. I thought it would be the greatest job ever to do on horseback. But then I found out that you had to do 2 years ‘on the beat’   before going into the mounted division and I’m a wimp in the dark so decided I couldn’t do that! I always knew I wanted horses in my life though. In the last year you have launched a unique gift box company aimed at the equestrian industry. What made you step into this area of the business? After having children, I was keen to get back into work but wanted to do something where I could work around the children and horses but also stay connected to the equestrian world because I’m so passionate about it. I’m a self-confessed shopper, I can google things all day long and after seeing many posts on social media and forums where people would ask what to buy their horsey friend/partner/mum etc I thought it would be a great idea to source some unique products and bring them all together into a gift box. Tell us about Hooves & Love and its vision. What are you particularly proud of with your company? I’m really proud to have made such wonderful connections with suppliers and customers and I hope this continues into the future. I am completely passionate about Hooves & Love in every way. My aim is to inspire people with unique gifts and to make someone really feel special when they receive one of my boxes. From the very first moment of opening the parcel, I hope to engage their senses and put a smile on their face.   What have been the up and downs of working within this area of the equestrian industry? The biggest ups for me are when a customer tells me they love the gift box, or who they’ve given it too loves it – that really makes my heart smile. Sometimes a customer will tell me a story behind the giving of a box and I’ll do some extra little touches to make it really special for that recipient. I’m totally in my element when I’m putting an order together. I don’t think there is a specific downside with the equestrian industry but the downside of running your own business is time – because of family commitments and the horses, I can’t work 9-5 hours so I’m usually up very early before the children wake to get some work done, then do some during school hours and then late at night. So it can feel like I’m never not working! What would be your key advice for a school leaver that wanted to work in the equestrian industry? Surround yourself with people who are encouraging, supportive and positive towards your passion and dreams. Always sponge in information – I have so many people around me who are amazing at what they do and experts in their field,  and I am forever learning from them in order to better myself and expand my mind. What are your future plans for Hooves & Love? I’ll keep working hard and let’s see where the business goes! On a day off, where would we find you? Spending time with my family or at the stables!! Where do you hope to be in ten years’ time? Hopefully still doing what I’m doing! Against the Clock  Beer or Champagne: Neither – I don’t like anything fizzy!! Sunshine or Snow: Sunshine Home Counties or Far Away Shores: Home Counties Spend or Save: Spend (oops!) Home Cooked or Eating Out: Eating Out (because I’m a terrible cook!!) Music or Film: Music Wellies or Heels: Wellies Please visit: Follow on Facebook: Follow on Instagram:

Chatting A Bit with Emma Lander

Emma Lander is not your typical farmers wife. A journalist who has a love for pink, glitter, make up and fashion you may think that life on a farm would not be a natural habitat for Emma. But this Farmers Wife & Mummy is very at home in wellies with her six dogs, numerous farm cats, four goats, hundreds of sheep, ducks and a flock of chickens! Samantha Hobden caught up with Emma recently in Haynet’s Chatting A Bit Series to find out more about this glittery rural blogger: Your passion for farming life comes through very strong with your writing . Were you brought up in this environment as a child? Not at all. I was born in a city and lived in a town. I went on a school trip to a farm and that is as close as I got.I think my husband’s passion for farming rubbed off on me and I was hungry to learn about it. I still ask a lot of questions and, as far as I am aware, it doesn’t annoy him and he is pleased to answer them. What was your childhood ambition? Was it to always work within an area that was countryside based? I wanted to be a vet up to leaving school but my area of interest was English rather than sciences and my next goal was to be editor of Vogue. I have always loved animals and I like to think I now have the best of both worlds with writing about animals (just not wearing Chanel darling). You were a journalist for many years. What advice would you give a school leaver to go into this line of work? Get as much experience as you can. Write for local papers, journals, online, blogs. When you go for interviews, editors aren’t interested in dreams. They want to see evidence of what you have done. I worked at a newspaper for six months unpaid before I got a paid role and I worked evenings and weekends to enable me to travel there. We love that you very much champion women in farming. Tell us about how important this is to you. I think it is very important. There is an increasing number of women choosing farming as their career but there are still old school farmers who don’t take them seriously and this is very disappointing. We need more women role models to show society as a whole and the farming world in particular that women can and do farm and they belong in this industry. Your life is full of family and animals. Give us an insight what a normal day is like for the Farmers Wife & Mummy. I think my blog sometimes does a disservice to other women in farming because I have three children-one with special needs and two who are not yet at school so a lot of my time is spent looking after them. However I do manage to do my own jobs most of the time. I just make sure the children are equipped to help me in their own way. What have been the challenges of being a farmer’s wife? Tell us about the highs and lows. I have learnt so much. At the beginning, it was a case of not naming the animals. We all know where they end up and naming them just makes it harder. As time has gone on and I have had more children, loneliness, especially in the summer when my husband is in the field is hard. With small children, you have to be close and tied to the baby monitor and it can be a long day on your own. I do try and fill my time tidying up, writing and crafting and I seem to accept it a lot more now. It is what it is and the children will not be small forever so, rather than pull against it, I just try and go with it. You also have to accept that children get fed up and I have to cut short my jobs to take them back inside-especially in the winter when it is cold. Their welfare has to come first. What areas of social media marketing do you find works when promoting your blog writing? This is the million dollar question. My blog isn’t one of these that gets thousands of readers each day and I have to work at what I get. I schedule posts to Twitter and Facebook and try my best to use Pinterest but time is an issue here again. Most of my readers come from Facebook so I try to make sure I have something interesting (sharing memes and other items) on my Facebook page several times a day. What are your future plans for Farmers Wife & Mummy? In the last year or so, I have moved away from traditional parent blogging. As a mother bringing up children on the farm, I feel we are in a unique position to educate people about food and farming as well as going into a bit of the lifestyle area. I love interiors so I have been using Instagram to highlight our home a bit more (the bits without crayon on the wall). I hope to continue and grow my audience. On a day off, where would we find you? At the farm. I don’t really get a day off. As a farm mum I am always here and I never really switch off from my blog. There is always a photo opportunity or idea which pops into my head. I do love reading though and I have just learned how to crochet so, in my spare moments, you are likely to see me with a book or a crochet hook in my hand. Where do you hope to be in ten years’ time? Still here with a little business of my own on the farm. I have so many ideas but I am yet to persuade my husband that any of them a worthy of following through. Against the Clock  Beer or Champagne: Champagne Sunshine or Snow: Sunshine Home Counties or Far Away Shores: Home Counties Spend or Save: Spend Home Cooked or Eating Out: Home Cooked Music or Film: Music Wellies or Heels: Wellies Please visit Farmers Wife & Mummy Follow on Facebook: Instagram: Twitter:

Chatting A Bit With Shann Jones

Deep in the countryside of South West Wales is a small goats milk dairy which is the home of The Chuckling Goat. This is no ordinary goats milk business and has an amazing story on how it started through a desperate battle to cure illness through natural remedies and the probiotic drink; kefir. Samantha Hobden from Haynet recently caught up with joint founder Shann in its Chatting A Bit series to find out more behind this fascinating story and award winning farming business: With your roots originating in America, how you did end up living on a farm in Wales? Ask a woman how she came to be all the way across the world and you’ll nearly always find her following her heart – my husband is a Welsh farmer, so I left California wine country to live with him on a Welsh farm! What was your childhood ambition? Was it always to work and write from the countryside or did you have other plans? Even living in the CA suburbs, I grew tomatoes in my backyard and kept a goat – although it was a pygmy goat. I didn’t want to be a farmer though – I always wanted to be a writer. I’m lucky in my life today, because I get to do both. The story in how the Chuckling Goat started is a fascinating one. How did it start? I was looking for a way to help my family, when doctors didn’t have any answers for us. When my son had eczema, and my husband had MRSA, and conventional medicine couldn’t help us, I was forced to turn to natural solutions – and they worked. What have been the challenges of working and running your own business? Tell us about the highs and lows. I love creating new products to help people, using the wonderful healing remedies that the land gives us – so that’s a huge plus. I suppose a low would be that because we live and work onsite, and all our family is involved in the business, it’s hard to get away from it. We’re all talking about the business, all the time! For those that are unaware of the benefits of kefir, give us your insight in why we should be consuming it daily. Your microbiome is constantly being assaulted by what I call “the 4 Horsemen of the Gut Apocalypse” – sugar, antibiotics, stress and environmental toxins. Unless you do something like take kefir to repair the damage, the bad bugs will win over time, and your health will suffer. You have a brilliant team behind Chuckling Goat! Why does it work so well for your business? Our business motto is “family first,” and that includes our team. We pay high salaries, big bonuses and look after our workers really well. Because of this, I get 100 applicants for every open position. Our workers are our greatest asset! What areas of social media marketing do you find works well with your brand? We do a lot on Facebook and Instagram. These are great places to forge a community feel. What are your future plans for Chuckling Goat?  CG is going virtual! We’re working on developing an app for our users, as well as designing new projects like lip balms and scalp oil, and getting into microbiome testing. On a day off, where would we find you? Designing my permaculture orchard in the field below the farmhouse! Where do you hope to be in ten years time. Right here on the farm – helping people and doing what I love with my family around me. Please visit: Follow on Facebook: Follow on Instagram:

Chatting A Bit with Emma Weekes

When Emma Weekes decided to set up her own catering business, she knew that she wanted to make the countryside the heart of it through rustic cooking sourcing local produce. A Thyme For All Occasions has grown from strength to strength with Emma’s passion for rural themed cooking, from small informal dinner parties to large marquee receptions. Samantha Hobden from Haynet recently caught up with Emma to find out more about the story about this super countryside business: You are a real country girl Emma – have you always had a passion for life in the countryside?  Yes, I have always had a huge passion for the country life. I grew up on a farm as my Nan and grandad owned one and we lived next door to them, so I would always wake up and take myself off down to the farm to bag the corn up with my grandad George! It’s the best childhood memories ever. What was your childhood ambition? When I was growing up I always wanted to be a midwife as I loved baby’s and I had every baby Annabelle a child could have ha ha. But I also always cooked with my Nan, my mum and sometimes for the family! And I just carried it on and I’ve never looked back. When did you decide to step into the world of catering? What advice would you give a school leaver who was thinking of a career in this line of work? So I started working for other caterers and really enjoyed it as I’m a real people person & I always looked up to the cooks as it’s a big job and a lot of responsibility and I didn’t think I would be able to do it myself …. but everyone told me I could. So I looked up the rules and regs & just went for it, it can be a bit scary at first but you wouldn’t look back it’s the best thing I’ve ever done! My advice would be don’t be scared you can do anything! What have been the challenges of running your own catering business? Tell us about the highs and lows. The most challenging for me is that other people can get jealous and for me, it’s sad as I truly believe there is enough work for everyone & no one is the same with what we do. We should all support each other especially the small businesses who have a passion for what we do. Tell us about the story behind A Thyme For All Occasions. Your cooking has a very rural feel to it, what are your most popular dishes? So I would say that my food is very “ country & rustic “ which is what I love! I like my pies to have a rough & flakey edge, I like my sausage rolls to be odd sizes it’s just how I like my food to look. My best dishes to cook are maybe sausage rolls as I use so many different flavours in them &  also I really like to work with game meat, so my pheasant/duck sausage rolls were a real crowd pleaser. As for me, it’s not used enough! On a day off where can we find you? On a day off …. you will either find me in my kitchen or with my best friend at a food market or out beating on the local shoots with family and friends What are your future plans for A Thyme For All Occasions? My future plans are I would really love to do more “ street food“!  I really want to try and get more people to try new food like game, as a lot of people are not too sure what to do with it & it’s so easy & tasty when you know how! What would have been your Plan B if you hadn’t gone into catering? Erm midwifery would have been my second choice but I wasn’t clever enough to go to uni ha ha ha! Where do you hope to be in ten years time? I hope to be as happy & loving my work ever more than I do now with a sign written VW camper van!   Against The Clock Questions Champagne or Gin: Gin Sunshine or Snow: Snow Home Counties or Far Away Shores: Home Counties Home Cooked or Eating Out: Home Cooked Spend or Save: Bit of both lol Music or Film: Music Horse Racing or Racing Cars: Horse racing   Please come and follow Thyme For All Occasions: Facebook Instagram

Chatting A Bit with Steph Croxford

Grand Prix Dressage Rider, Steph Croxford only started riding at age of twenty four after a very bumpy start… After her young horse decided that he quite fancied dressage, Steph stepped into the arena and has never looked back! With her famous partnership with Mr President and a family to juggle, Samantha Hobden from Haynet recently caught up with Steph in its Chatting A Bit series to find out more behind her equestrian story: Tell us about your first time riding a horse.  Did you ride as a child or did the equestrian passion arrive later in life? I rode a couple of times when I was a child but didn’t really take an interest until I met my future husband at University. Up until then, I was more interested in playing rugby. I first rode my husbands, sisters horse and promptly fell off galloping vertically down a hill on Exmoor. Not the best start!!! Was it an easy path to dressage or did you test the waters with cross country and show jumping? I only ended up in dressage as my young horse (that I bought for jumping and XC) happened to like posing and decided he quite fancied dressage!! What do you look for in a dressage horse? A sound horse!! Lol’s What advice would you give a rider who is thinking of trying out dressage for the first time? Go unaffiliated and see if you like it as it’s not cheap to compete affiliated these days. Who have been your support network with your equestrian career? My husband, kids and extended family. Which of your horses has been the “special one”? They are all ‘special’, in that if they were children, they would be considered to be  Autistic!!! They all have their quirks but are very bright with it. Which equestrian rider do you take inspiration from and why? Mr Davison as he is the ultimate technical rider and he spends a lot of time shouting at me! If you hadn’t had travelled down the equestrian career path, what would have been your Plan B? I have a PhD in Minewater Geochemistry and spent 8 years at University, so I would return back to that field. On a day off, where would we find you? Yesterday I was at the local ski slope with my kids who were tabogganing and snowboarding!! We never stop as a family as the kids are very much into competing at hockey and swimming. Where do you hope to be in ten years time? Retired!!!!! Lol’s! Against the Clock Bays, Greys or Chestnuts:  Chestnuts Champagne or Gin:  Champers Schoolmaster or Youngster:  Youngster Sunshine or Snow:  Snow Home Cooked or Eating Out:  Eating out Spend or Save:  Save Music or Film:  Film Horse Racing or Racing Cars:  Horse Racing Steph is supported by Nedz – manufacturers of top quality chopped straw bedding products Nedz Original and Nedz Pro Header Photo Credit: Julie Geraghty

Chatting A Bit with Jack Sheffield

Growing up on a farm in East Sussex, Jack Sheffield has farmed in various UK counties and Australia. In 2017 he founded FeelAliveAgri, a brand aimed at young people in agriculture which is affordable but stylish. With clothing designed to be worn on the farm, in the fields or in the tractor, this rural brand has an exciting future! Samantha Hobden caught up with Jack recently in Haynet’s Chatting A Bit Series to find out more about FeelAliveAgri and the story behind the brand: Your passion for farming comes through very strong. Has this been with you from your childhood? I grew up on a farm so you could say it has been with me from day one, I can’t remember my first day of work, I just gradually got into it from a young age but I always wanted to spread my wings and go further afield from the home farm. I used to sit in the tractors and combines from a young age for hours on end. These were the days before passenger seats when I had to be content with a cushion on top of a toolbox! What was your childhood ambition? Was it to always work within an area that was countryside based?  At school, I always used to drift off and imagine running different businesses most of them not farming related as such but I’ve always imagined myself running a business. As I got older I realised agriculture and the countryside is my passion so decided to stay on that path. I think as a child you always imagine when you grow up, you’re going to have all the nice things in life which you desire. But you forget where the money is going to come from and what career path you are actually going to take. When did you decide to step into the tough world of farming? What advice would you give a school leaver who was thinking of a career in this line of work? When I left school and decided to do a two year course at Plumpton college, this was my first real dedication to the footsteps in my career path. Of course, it was still early days and if I decided it wasn’t for me it wasn’t going the be the end of the world as a lot of people on the course didn’t even end up in farming! If I could give advice to a school leaver is make the most of college, the time really flies there and its such a great laugh thinking back. You meet lifelong friends and also have a good party! I can’t say I learnt an awful lot there but it does encourage you to spread your wings further. You have worked in Australia farming in the last few years. What advice would you give a “young farmer” on how to go about gaining experience farming abroad?  Firstly, I would avoid these agencies that will find you work supposedly, I have never dealt with one but I have heard many bad stories about them and they all want a large chunk of your wages apparently. I emailed some harvesting contractors personally and it was the best way to go about it. I was extremely fortunate to land a position with a harvesting contractor based in New South Wales, a family run company called Maybury Harvesting run by the Maybury family. I still chat with them often as they are such great people. Once you have a job confirmed, its time to apply for your visa! I’d be careful when doing so online as there are many websites run by third party companies which will apply for a visa for you through the official government website and charge you good money to do so! Make sure when applying it is the official government website of the country you are planning to work in. Another thing I would highly recommend is not to be scared of leaving the farm life behind temporarily and going to the city/town, to sightsee, party… whatever! There’s a lot more to life than farming. Me and my friend decided to live it large in Sydney after harvest, its the only opportunity I would have ever had in my life to do that sort of thing and you have to make the most of that. I made memories that will last a lifetime but more importantly… what goes on tour stays on tour! You have founded an exciting rural business in the last year creating clothing for young people in agriculture. Tell us why you felt the need to start Feel Alive Agri and the story behind its name. About 4 years ago me and a couple of mates were working on a large arable unit in Kent doing the harvest, my choice of tractor at the time was the John Deere 7530, of which we made a joke about… Feeling Alive in the 75! I milked the saying a bit on social media of which became a popular hashtag on Instagram! One day I decided to produce some small decals which said #FeelAliveInThe75 and put them on an Instagram story and asked if people wanted any. People were going bonkers for them. This is when I decided I should maybe put this on polos and market it, but I should perhaps create a brand and give it a name? Feel Alive.. I thought, Feel Alive what? Farming? Nope… Agri? Perhaps… Feel Alive Agri? Feel Alive Agri! Yes, I’ve got it now I’ll make it one word. I also felt a gap in the market for a down to earth brand for country people which they can wear while getting their hands dirty, this is why I decided to go ahead and try my business idea. What have been the challenges of working and running your own business? Tell us about the highs and lows. The first year has been a massive challenge for me, people always congratulate me and tell me how well I’m doing but they only see the good side. I deal with a lot more behind closed doors and especially since I run the ship by myself. This year I gave up driving tractors in order to dedicate myself fully to what I wanted to do. Anyone who drives tractors knows you have to dedicate a lot of time to the job. With the time on my hands, I had to believe in myself and do things I had no idea about and teach myself. After I had the idea I had the worry of setting up a website, getting the store working, accepting payments, designing the stock, getting the stock made and ready to sell, organising postage, getting social media accounts set up… It was a whole new ball game to me and you forget all the little things, small steps at a time lead to a big difference. The lows are things like when you have an issue with the website, dealing with people expecting something for free or wanting to be a brand ambassador, stock taking longer to come in than expected, when the machine which manufactures the decals brakes, dedicating time at weekends to do mundane jobs etc. There’s always going to issues with running a business and once you have overcome that issue, I can assure you another one will arrive. But thinking negatively will never drive you forward, there’s always highs, there’s nothing better than seeing your brand being loved by the consumer. That’s the thing that makes me happy, seeing people wear it or display the decals with pride, that’s a good feeling! Its the feeling of hard work paying off. What areas of social media marketing do you find works well with your brand?  Instagram is definitely the most popular and the most effective way of social media marketing. Nobody really directly goes on a website nowadays without going via social media. People love pictures and that’s why Instagram will always be number one. To sell the item people want to see what it really looks like, no point in photoshopping logos onto clothing as people question do these items really exist? We are no huge clothing brand that pays models lots of money and has exclusive photo shoots.. yet! But I rely a lot on customers photos to make up the social media accounts, as a lot of people love to send them in as they get a mention. What are your future plans for Feel Alive Agri? I have many plans in my mind but I’m a very secretive person. Someone once told me always keep your next move silent. I just take every day as it comes and play the game from there. However I do plan next summer to get out to shows and possibly get around the country, as it would be great to meet some of the customers. If you hadn’t had travelled down the farming career path, what would have been your Plan B? Hard question, but would probably be construction. On a day off, where would we find you? This is a concept I can’t grasp anymore is switching off. I never have a full day off as I always end up doing something work related. If I sometimes have a proper day off,  it would consist of going away for the day with the other half to somewhere nice like Twickenham to watch the rugby or something along those lines. If I do have time away, I always log out of social media accounts and emails and leave the work phone behind so nothing can distract or annoy me. I find it hard to switch off from the business but it has to be done to keep mental sanity I think. Where do you hope to be in ten year’s time? Where I hope to be I’m not sure. Its all part of the adventure I think, but it would be nice to actually have my own farm and call it FeelAlive Farms and actually have an official store which people can come and visit and look around. Maybe have a few tractors, foragers and combines parked inside the store all done up with our colour scheme and sign written. I would also hope to do more in-house production and make our own designs from scratch. I also would have liked to diversify FeelAliveAgri within agriculture too but to what will remain all part of the adventure I guess. Against the Clock  Beer or Champagne:  Beer 100% Champagne only for breakfast on Christmas Day Sunshine or Snow:  Snow because it’s acceptable to go in the pub at midday in the week. Home Counties or Far Away Shores: Far away shores because the world is a big place and you only get one lifetime to explore it. Spend or Save: Save! Because I’m sensible now! Home Cooked or Eating Out:  Eating out is something I religiously do once a week but if you did it every night you’d get bored but I much prefer it over home cooked. Music or Film: Music for driving, film for an evening in, I am very partial to a good film. Tractor or Truck: Pickup trucks, they go faster! Please visit: Instagram:  Facebook:

Chatting A Bit with Rhea Freeman

Found in the county of Worcestershire, Rhea Freeman is well known in the equestrian and countryside industry for her marketing and coaching skills within rural business. Working with a variety of businesses, Rhea works passionately in getting a product and brand exactly where it needs to be. With a young family, horses and her famous dog Jam to juggle in her hectic coaching business, Samantha Hobden recently caught up with Rhea to find out more behind the story of her brand: Your love for rural life comes across strongly Rhea. Has this passion been with you from your childhood? Yes, kind of! I started riding when I was about sixish – despite my parents having no connection to horses at all. That said, Mum and Dad were really supportive, which was lucky as I’ve been addicted to anything equine since then! I think when you spend that much time in a field chasing naughty ponies that won’t be caught, pulling ragwort and a range of other equestrian tasks, you really do get a huge appreciation for the countryside, and that’s something that’s just grown and grown!   What was your childhood ambition? Was it to always work within an area that was countryside based? It was actually to be a vet. I’ve always loved animals so it kind of made sense that I’d want to help them. The slight issue came in that I’m actually a bit squeamish… OK, I say a bit, I was filming a video at a vets a few years ago when a bone fragment had gone into the horse’s sinuses and was being removed. I had to go outside for a bit as I felt very funny! Another issue was that I had spent such a long time on yards, being hands on with horses day in, day out, and working alongside some really good instructors that I felt a really strong pull to this. Which I appreciate doesn’t seem quite the same… but I actually felt that the day to day aspect and teaching people to ride and care for their horses properly would be hugely rewarding too. So after getting some really good grades at school… I went to become a riding instructor.   When did you decide to step into the world of rural marketing? What advice would you give a school leaver who was thinking of a career in this line of work? It actually happened by accident. I was always good at English at school and really enjoyed it too… so as I was instructing and looking after people’s horses, I had the opportunity to write a monthly column about it for a magazine… which I did…and loved. This work opened the doors to copywriting work for equestrian companies… and that opened the doors to the world of PR. And that has changed a LOT since I started! It was a crazy amount of hard work, but so rewarding. For school leavers, I would advise getting experience. Appreciate you will start at the bottom, learn all you can, work harder than you thought possible and be aware that you’ll need to do things for free/for very little to gain the experience. Experience can’t be beaten in my opinion.     What have been the challenges of working and running your own marketing and coaching business? Tell us about the highs and lows. Not enough hours in a day is a common challenge. I have two young children so my business has evolved a lot since I had them… and I’m pleased it has but it takes some adjusting. I moved away from doing ‘straight’ PR as I call it about two years ago now to move into coaching as it was something I was being asked for and, in all honestly, with the way printed media is going, there’s a) so much more out there than traditional PR and b) a lot of people can do it themselves with the right support. That said, I do have a handful of clients I work with across their PR and digital/social platforms… but these are in the minority. The highs are definitely when projects I’ve supported clients with work well. And I’m really lucky in that there are a lot of highs. The lows are often technology based when something goes wonky, and the balance of being a good mum and present for that alongside working. The thing is, I really do love my work. I obviously love the children too, but to me, work doesn’t feel like work, so I get the lines blurred a bit.   Business in the countryside and equestrian industry can be tough? What advice do you give clients who want to improve their online presence? Consistency is SO important. I see so many people try things for a few weeks and give up. That’s the thing, it won’t take a few weeks… and if you see success in that space of time KEEP GOING. Also, appreciate that everyone, even people who call themselves experts/gurus are JUST LEARNING LIKE YOU. The platforms change all the time. I’ve been called an expert quite a lot, which is lovely and makes me smile, but I just think that that badge means I’m keeping up with all the developments that are going on, learning about them and applying them/teaching them faster/better than your average person. It’s all a constant learning process… and just when you think you’ve got it sussed… they’ll tweak the algorithm. This is where people usually throw their toys out them pram. This is when you can win.   How long have you been horse riding? Do you manage to get in the saddle at all with work and a family life to juggle? I’ve been riding since I was about six… and my cob Marilyn has been mine (OK, she owns me, I just paid the money to have that privilege!) since I was 16. In all honesty, I don’t juggle it well. The horses live at home and have a very lovely life as pretty lawnmowers. I’ve probably ridden three times since I had the children. There just don’t seem to be enough hours in the day and that’s the thing that has given at the moment.   Tell us about the animals that share your life. I have three – two horses and one dog! I have Marilyn who is basically responsible for my life now, her son Gu, and Jam the dog. I bought Marilyn from my now mother in law… so she really is responsible for everything! Gu is Marilyn x Mill Law but is incredibly low mileage as he was a swine to back. And Jam. Well, she’s something else. Jam is a rescued trailhound who is without a doubt the naughtiest dog I have ever met. She drives me mad most days with her many, many quirks and attempts at/actual theft BUT she has a heart of gold and is a lovely person.   What are your future plans for Rhea Freeman Equestrian and Countryside Coach? Where do I start?! I’ve given a couple of TEDx talks this year and have really enjoyed that. I do a bit of guest lecturing at a couple of Universities around social media and have said yes to a few other speaking opportunities too. I’m loving the Small & Supercharged Mastermind group – my new membership platform – and I’m so excited to be working with the businesses in there too. The Small & Supercharged Podcast is doing really well too… and that really excites me as I love doing that. So I’m multi passionate I think it’s fair to say. I think having this view means that I can develop in an all round way and share what I learn in different ways – through doing in some cases but through teaching in others. I have lots of plans and goals… so I guess you’ll have to watch this space a bit! If you hadn’t had travelled down the rural themed career path, what would have been your Plan B? That is a good question. Either something marketing/social media based or maybe something connected to equine health.     On a day off, where would we find you? I don’t have too many of them, but probably at home reading, or at some hellish soft play area with the children. Why I have to get involved in scaling five stories of soft play is still beyond me…   Where do you hope to be in ten years time? Honestly? I’m not sure. With the speed things are moving at the moment I can’t quite plan the minutiae of that, but happy, healthy, horsey and really helping our industry move forward.   Against the Clock  Schoolmasters or Youngsters: Schoolmasters… after backing Gu I’ll take schoolmasters any day of the week! Champagne or Gin: Gin Sunshine or Snow: Snow Home Counties or Far Away Shores: Home Counties Home Cooked or Eating Out: Home Cooked Spend or Save: Save Music or Film: Film Horse Racing or Racing Cars: Can I say eventing instead?!   Please visit Rhea Freeman Equestrian and Countryside Coach Facebook: Twitter: Instagram:   Image credits: Sophie Callahan Photography

Chatting A Bit with Horseshoe Hearts

Deep in the rural Hertfordshire countryside, farrier and artist team Barry and Faye from Horseshoe Hearts run their hand forged gifts and homeware business. Both being dedicated horse owners and lovers of all things equine together with their passion for wildlife and the countryside, has led to their creative and resourceful business reusing used horseshoes. Their stunning designs using artistic flair and traditional forged skills make lovely and thoughtful gifts for any occasion. Samantha Hobden caught up with Barry and Faye from Horseshoe Hearts recently in Haynet’s Chatting A Bit series to find out more about the couple behind this super rural business: Tell us about where your equestrian passion has come from? Has it been with you both all your life? Faye – for me I have no idea where it came from. No one in my family is horsey at all. My mum tells me I used to watch horse racing on tv and just stare and stare at the horses. My parents finally relented when I was 7 and took me for my first riding lesson. It was on a pony called Little Merlin and I even did a bit of rising trot. I remember bursting with pride when the instructor told me I must be a natural! Barry –  I’ve been around horses all my life. I’m told when I was a baby in my pram in the garden, one of our ponies would graze happily alongside me so long as I was gurgling and moving, if I went silent the pony would come over and nudge and nuzzle me until I made a noise again, then she would go back to grazing. Both my parents owned horses and my dad was a farrier and so I followed in his footsteps. Tell us about your farrier career Barry? Did you always want to have a career in this line of work? No, definitely not always! I removed my first shoe when I was 6 years old. I went out a lot with my dad to help him when he was working but didn’t like the hands-on aspect with horses until I was 14/15! Farriery is physically hard work and until then I don’t think I was strong enough and I used to hate it. As I matured it became easier to do and I began to enjoy working with the horses. On leaving school I went straight to farriery college, studied for four years and obtained my Diploma at the end of it, becoming a qualified, registered farrier. Sadly, my father passed away 6 months before the end of my course and so never got to see me qualify. Your passion for art shines through Faye. What areas of the art world do you love? Ohhh that’s a toughie! I began as a child just drawing horses, native ponies, Arabs, horses and riders seen in Horse & Pony magazine that I got every week. As a teenager, I loved the romanticism and old-fashioned chivalry of the Pre-Raphaelite artists but was distinctly guided more towards the Impressionists while studying for my Fine Art A Level. Degas & Cezanne were often a main focus and to be sure their painting of light and colour (and my art tutors voice in my head!) has never stopped amazing me. A secret love of my own is Alphonse Mucha, his depictions of women particularly inspired me to create my own jewellery for a time, headdresses and flowers – simply lovely! When did you decide to combine your creative flair into horseshoe gifts? Faye – Ohhh quite recently really. About 3 years ago Barry made me a heart and a hoof pick from a horseshoe and I thought they were simply wonderful. I love the aspect of upcycling and repurposing something with a history into something new. They just really appealed to me. Barry – I’ve always been making things. Faye – A mess! Barry – Haha Yes I’m not the tidiest! But I’d always experimented with making things from old rasps and old shoes just to see if I could. I’d never thought anything much of them but Faye was so pleased with hers she began showing them about and friends started asking me to forge things from their own shoes. Faye – So it ticked over that way for a while but it wasn’t until this year that we really started investing some real time and energy into Horseshoe Hearts. It’s just amazing how much it has developed over this year. What have been the challenges of creating this aspect into a business? What have been the highs and lows? Faye – When we’ve done all we can to get an item made and dispatched on time and then there is an issue with the courier and so it’s delayed or lost. That always upsets me. It doesn’t happen often but when it does it’s generally when something was needed to a deadline and I just hate to have disappointed customers. I’d hand deliver all our orders if I could just to know they arrive safely! Barry – This year we had an anonymous complaint about the noise of the hammering on the anvil. That was a crushing low. That was a difficult 24 hrs, but we decided we weren’t giving up and, truth be told, a lot of forging work this year has been done at the yards I shoe in, by kind permission of the yard owners which we are super grateful for. We’ve just found new premises to do the forging work in which we really help us increase our productivity. Both – Oh and when people copy our work… that’s low. Enough said about that! Both – The overwhelming high, has to be a happy customer! Every time we get lovely feedback and repeat orders, that is just thrilling. We are so grateful to all our customers, encouragers and supporters. It is so special to create something for a client whose horse has passed. Being told how thrilled they are with a keepsake of their precious friend never fails to give meaning to all we do. Also seeing our products in Your Horse Magazine was an incredible moment – I used to read that magazine when I was I younger! Having our beautiful logo designed and having our very own website built was also a huge moment – it’s been quite a year!! Faye – Definitely. I’ve shed tears at some of the messages that arrive with some sets of shoes. There is so much love for our equine friends that we get to hear about and be a part of. It’s quite humbling. Barry – Oh and shipping our products out beyond the UK! That’s a real “pinch me moment” for me. We have sent our products to Australia, America, Sweden, France, Germany, Lithuania and Croatia.. to name a few! That’s crazy! What are your future plans for the Horseshoe Hearts? To learn more. To be better. More efficient. We would love to crossover into Country Life as well as being an Equestrian brand. We have a couple of unique ideas that we hope to put into being in 2019 but we can’t tell you what they are 😉 Are you interested in equestrian sport? Which is your favourite genre to follow? Faye – Ohh.. a lifelong go-to has to have been Showjumping, I religiously watched John Whitaker and Nick Skelton and co as a child. Now I probably follow quite a few eventing bloggers, if only to be in awe! Oh goodness and Mary King and Mark Todd. They are both just fabulous! Honestly though, I orientate more to matters of equine welfare and I follow a lot of horse charities. I’d love to think that one day Horseshoe Hearts can be established enough to provide support to one of the many well deserving equine charities. Barry – If anything a bit of showjumping now and then for me too. I tend to spend any free time following other farriers and blacksmiths and watching their videos. There is always so much to learn, either creatively or from a shoeing aspect. Different methods of shoeing laminitic equines particularly interests me. If you hadn’t had travelled down the equestrian themed career path, what would have been your Plan B? Faye – A vet! I always wanted to be a large animal vet! Life had other plans. Perhaps it was the watching of James Herriot that did it! Barry – I truly don’t know. Definitely something that involved being outdoors and with animals! On a day off, where would we find you both? Both – What’s a day off?! Where do you hope to be in ten years time? To be established, be a go-to Equestrian and Country brand and hopefully having our own little patch of rural land somewhere with a forge next to home |Perhaps a little Horseshoe Hearts shop and café selling homemade seasonal goods with fields of rescue ponies, natives and Arabs and perhaps some kind of equine therapy set up too… that sounds good! Against the Clock  Schoolmasters or Youngsters: Faye – Schoolmasters      Barry – Youngsters Champagne or Gin: Faye – Gin    Barry – Gin Sunshine or Snow: Faye – Sunshine  Barry – Sunshine Home Counties or Far Away Shores:  Faye– Home Counties   Barry – Home Counties Home Cooked or Eating Out: Faye – Eating Out      Barry – Eating Out Spend or Save: Faye – Ohhh gosh I wish it was save but it will be Spend!   Barry – always seems to be spend! Music or Film: Faye – Music (unless it’s Harry Potter then film!)   Barry – Music Horse Racing or Racing Cars: Faye – Neither! A bunch of native ponies and an old Landie please!     Barry – Neither!   Huge thanks to Barry and Faye. Please come and find them at Horseshoe Hearts

Chatting A Bit with Victoria Bax

Victoria Bax in an International Event Rider and experienced trainer in all disciplines, specialising also in retraining of ex-racehorses. Taking a complete change from her career in the police force, Victoria now runs a small eventing yard training her team of thoroughbreds from being back and broken to serious competition at International CIC2* Level. She also rides and competes owner horses too together with training clients in a number of equestrian disciplines. Samantha Hobden caught up with Victoria recently in Haynet’s Chatting A Bit series to find out more about Victoria Bax and her equestrian story: Tell us about your childhood riding ponies. When did you realise that you wanted to work and compete with horses as a career? To be honest the first and only pony I had was my 14.1” New Forest X Tb, Buzby as I was never small enough for anything else! My dad bought him for me when I was about 11.  Buzby took me through Pony Club and Riding Club teams and installed my passion of Eventing in me having tried all disciplines. I was completely dedicated to my riding from a very early age which saw me going up to the stables morning and evening every day before and after school, a lot of the time having cycled the 3 1/2 miles on getting there on my bike!  I knew even then that I would love to ride and work with horses professionally but didn’t ever think I would get the opportunity to do this.  Due to this reason and the fact that there really is not a lot of money to be made in this sport, I stayed on at school took my A levels and then embarked on a career in the Police Force. I figured with shift work I would get to ride during the day more than if I did a 9-5 job.  I kept and paid for just one horse, Jack, during this time before meeting my husband and this is when things started to change for the better.  One horse turned into two and then into three and then a 4 acre smallholding became ours too and my Equestrian career started to unravel. Was it an easy path to become an international event rider? What challenges has it given you? Although I am officially an International event rider I actually have only competed in International classes in England…so far! Cost is a huge part of this as it is expensive enough to train, stable and compete over 3/4 days, let alone travel abroad to do it.  I have always said until I am super competitive at the International level I am doing I won’t travel abroad to do it.  However, I finally have two really competitive young horses who I hope will fulfil those dreams and we will make it abroad one day. You specialise in retraining ex-racehorses. What do you look for in these horses and how do you match them to the different aspects of equestrian sport? Temperament is key so a major factor to look for in my opinion. If the horse has hurdled it is likely to have learnt an interesting jumping style whereas if it hasn’t you can start from scratch which is easier. I’m not put off by horses which have raced as 2 year olds as research says that if the horse has raced at a very young age and came out sound then it is likely to stay that way. I prefer to start with an ex racehorse between 4-6 years old and between 16-16.3” and have preferred bloodlines and horses which have raced over a mile and a half. I believe this increases my chances of finding a horse with stamina and athleticism. I don’t tend to go for sprinters as their fast twitching muscles make them like coiled springs which doesn’t work very well in the dressage arena! Certain mixes of bloodlines don’t tend to produce horses that event well either because of the physical types they tend to produce or because of temperament issues which are common. I also view their races on Racing Post if they are available to give me an idea of what the horse looks like and how it moves.  I like them to move fairly straight although it doesn’t have to be perfect.  I like a horse with a good shoulder and good hocks, but nothing too long; long and lollopy might be good for racing but certainly isn’t good for collection and jumping bounces. Coaching is a love of yours.  Tell us the highs and lows teaching can bring. It certainly is! The highs are the buzz I get out of helping horses and riders achieve their dreams, watching them progress through the hard times and then seeing the “lightbulb” moments and knowing that I have played just a small part in them getting there. The lows are the long and many many hours spent standing outside either in an arena or in the middle of a cross country course in the freezing cold, hurricane winds and torrential rain! Who have been your support network with your equestrian career? Top of the list has to be my long suffering husband Jason.  Without him, I would still have been in my previous job hating waking up and having to go to work every day. My friend and mentor Lucy Thompson has been a huge part of where I am now too.  She has supported me through thick and thin and given me the confidence and belief in myself that I can do it. Which of your horses has been the “special one”? Crystal Ka aka Crysto.  He has been my ex-racehorse of a lifetime so far.  He has not been easy by any means, BUT he has given me the opportunity to do so many things successfully for the first time from giving us our first BE win to jumping us clear round our first CIC 2* to giving me my first ever surgery and hospital stay! Which equestrian rider do you take inspiration from and why? The legend who is Lucinda Green! I love her positive and determined style. She has helped me with my hot head horse Crystal Ka, even making positive comments to me after a “seat of your pants” style dressage test in one of our AI classes!  She is very down to earth and says it how it is.  She is not one to give up on dreams and neither am I! If you hadn’t had travelled down the equestrian career path, what would have been your Plan B? In reality, my equestrian career is my Plan B! I never thought in a million years I would actually be able to make it as a career so started out as a Police Officer in Essex Police!  I served for 13 years.  When I started I loved it and the “family” it gave me but my life changed and I met my husband so my priorities changed and eventually he fully supported me in following my dreams of embarking on a full-time equestrian career, which I love every minute of.  He has also enabled me to take my Coaching exams to make that side of it officially too. On a day off, where would we find you? What’s a day off!  Being in the equestrian career is a lifestyle that has to be done every day. Where do you hope to be in ten years time? I’d like to think realistically I will have made it round a 3* but would love that to be a 4*! I would also like to have progressed with my coaching exams too.   Against the Clock Bays, Greys or Chestnuts: Bays Champagne or Gin: Both! Schoolmaster or Youngster: Youngster Sunshine or Snow: Sunshine Home Cooked or Eating Out: Home cooked Spend or Save: Spend Music or Film: Music Horse Racing or Racing Cars: Horse Racing   Please visit: Image credit: Equuis Images by Jason Bax Victoria is supported by Nedz – manufacturers of top quality chopped straw bedding products Nedz Original and Nedz Pro

Chatting A Bit with Kylie Roddy

Since working with horses from the age of sixteen, Kylie Roddy has worked hard to achieve equestrian success within her career so far. Training at Olympic Gold Medalist Leslie Law’s yard, Kylie moved on to set up her own equestrian business not only competing at 3* level but producing youngsters together with difficult and sharp horses that need a sensitive approach. Samantha Hobden caught up with Kylie recently in Haynet’s Chatting A Bit series to find out more about Kylie Roddy and her equestrian story: Tell us about your childhood. Did it involve riding ponies and competing? I started riding when I was 13 at my local riding school, Snowball Farm in Burnham, Bucks. Until that point, I did regular kid stuff with my sister and we went to work with my mum on weekends to her hairdressing salon and helped make tea and coffee for the clients. When did you realise that you wanted to work and compete with horses as a career? When I was 15 I hated school but really loved riding and in that time mum had bought me a horse Kyrenejenallas Boy AKA Berry, he ended up being my Young Rider horse and we did our first 3 star together. All equestrian sport brings highs and lows. Tell us about yours within your eventing career. I had done two Young Rider Europeans and had done well. I then sold Kyrenejenallas Boy which was hard but financially the best thing, however, it took me a long time to come back to the sport at top level. Recovering from broken bones- I broke my back and elbow just over12 months apart and getting back to riding as good or better than before, that was a challenging time. You particularly enjoy producing and retraining horses? Do you go with your gut feeling or should a horse have a list of requirements for competition? A bit of both. I go with my gut to consider if the horse can be trainable and want to work with you which really helps you know if they are going to try for the rider, this is the most important thing! Then you have to look at the job you want them to do and decide if the horse possesses the essential requirements to do that job. e.g. if the horse is a good mover but can’t gallop it’s more likely to be a dressage or show horse rather than an eventer or hunter. Who have been your support network with your equestrian career? I have been lucky enough to have great support through my Mum, Aunty, Sister they have been essential emotional supporters. My staff at home have always been 100% committed to the job and keeping the yard and horses in great shape. Sponsors and owners Jeremy Lawton, Susan Lawton, Neil Woodford, Madeleine Woodford, Colin Fox, Anne Fox have been massive believers, it goes without saying that they have been 110% supportive. Too many people to mention along the way that have been instrumental in helping me reach my goals and aspirations. Which of your horses has been the “special one”? There have been many for different reasons. KyreneJenallas Boy- my first horse took me from learning to jump to my first 3 ***. Shearwater Billy for giving me his heart a thousand times over when going xc he jumped around some tracks that you wouldn’t believe was possible when you rode him at home. SRS Kan Do the best jumper I’ve sat on to date who makes everything feel easy, he just jumped double clear around his first 3 star. This year we lost probably the nicest horse I have ever ridden Shearwater Bonaparte, XC he was a machine and had the best attitude he will always leave a big hole! Which equestrian rider do you take inspiration from and why? Nick Skelton without a doubt he has been a childhood hero and remained at the top of his sport for the duration of his riding career. His resilience to bounce back from serious/life changing injury to come back to showjumping at the highest level and remain as competitive is an inspiration to us all. If you hadn’t had travelled down the equestrian career path, what would have been your Plan B? I’m not academic in any way so it would have to have been a ‘doing’ career. I love making stuff so maybe a designer/inventor. On a day off, where would we find you? Not many of those but I’ve been to the Nirvana spa and that really relaxing I like it there. Where do you hope to be in ten years time? Riding my homebreds around badminton!! A lot of ifs and buts attached to that but you got to chase your dreams!! Right!!! Against the Clock Bays, Greys or Chestnuts: Chesnuts Champagne or Gin: Neither I’m T Total (that’s another story) Schoolmaster or Youngster:  Youngster Sunshine or Snow: Sunshine Home Cooked or Eating Out: Eating Out Spend or Save: Spend!!!! Music or Film: Music Horse Racing or Racing Cars: Horse Racing Kylie Roddy is supported by Shearwater Insurance. With over 25 years experience within the equestrian sector, Shearwater have got you covered. Find out more about the policies they can off via Please visit Kylie Roddy Eventing

Chatting A Bit with Tara Punter

Tara Punter Equine & Rural PR is based deep in the equestrian rich countryside and is very passionate about promoting rural business which can be a very tough industry. With rural life deeply rooted in Tara, Samantha Hobden from Haynet recently caught up with her to find out more about the personality behind this PR business and what exciting plans she has for the future for Tara Punter Equine & Rural PR: Your love for rural life stands strong with you Tara. Has this passion stemmed from your childhood? I’ve always been horsey and into rural sports and fashion, I just feel that passion gets stronger as I get older. I’m now married to a farmer and living on an Organic farm so it’ll continue to be that way, which I love. I wouldn’t change a thing – I find my true inspiration when strolling stubble fields and riding in the Cotswolds. What was your childhood ambition? Was it always to work within the rural industry? I had so many strange ones when I was younger – generally wanting to be a DJ or air hostess as I love music and love flying! It was only when I got to be 18 and started working as a yard manager before I went to university (to do an Equine and Agricultural Business degree) that I realised I wanted to be involved in the equine industry, I just didn’t want to be a groom! How long have you been horse riding? Is it a struggle to get in the saddle with your busy PR business? Since I was a teeny tiny baby – my earliest photos are of my Mum and Dad holding me on a pony! I’ve had my current horse, Ollie, a gorgeous 16.3hh ex-racehorse for 3 years now. I got him when I first went self-employed and rode him pretty much every day in the first year. The business then picked up and I started to ride him less and less. While I have lots of farmland to ride around, I don’t have a school which was a real issue last Winter with that horrendous weather. So he had most of the Winter off. I was then getting married in June followed by a 3 week honeymoon so every single waking hour for the first 6 months of the year was spent planning the wedding and planning to leave my business in the capable hands of my assistant and journalists while I was away. It also meant an awful lot of social scheduling and writing up front so everything was ready for our departure. I’m pleased to say, I’m now making the time for Ollie, having weekly lessons which are on the same day and same time every week, and we have much more structure. He’s 15 (although still feels like a 5 year old) – I don’t want to realise in a few years time that he’s too old and I should have focused more on him when he was younger! He’s got such potential and loves jumping, next year will be our year, that’s for sure! When did you decide to step into the world of marketing and PR?  It was in June 2015 – I had a really horrible, full time job when a chance meeting at my place of work with a business owner led me into equine journalism. The Hickstead Derby was my first event as a journalist, I’ll never forget that day, one of the very best of my life! Hickstead still holds a special place in my heart. From there I started doing social media management (which I’ve actually been doing for nearly 10 years now!), working as a web editor and running pieces of PR. I chose to focus on PR specialising in the areas I love most – horses and country life! My business model has changed over the years but I now feel it’s where it’s meant to be – handling PR for some of the best brands and I’m just about to start 2 coaching programmes, for those that want to manage their own PR but just don’t know how! What would be your piece of advice to a school leaver wanting to work in the marketing industry? Just get experience and ask people questions, ask for an opportunity and ask for advice. If I hadn’t [jokingly] offered to write an article on retraining racehorses, I might never have had that break. As my business grows I’m always looking to outsource more and to take on people who have similar interests to me, whether for work experience or for a more permanent position. I’ve spoken to so many young, super talented people, who just don’t know how to get started or how they can get work. I’ll always continue to offer the advice, support and guidance wherever I can, as I really didn’t have that when I started out and in some cases, definitely learnt the hard way! Business in the countryside and equestrian industry can be tough. What is your key advice to clients who want to improve their online presence? Know who you’re talking to. Some businesses are on every social channel when they really don’t need to be. If you’re targeting the under 25’s, I’d almost certainly not be on Twitter and would only have a small presence on Facebook. Instagram is where it’s at it, particularly for that younger generation. Ensure your social media content is valuable to your audience, your imagery is good and your message is clear. Finally in terms of web presence, ask someone to go over your website, there are so many affordable packages now for website design, it’s much better to make a small investment in a new, professional website than try to promote one you’re not happy with and doesn’t look professional. Again, I’m more than happy to have a look at peoples brands – I actually offer a complimentary 20 minute strategy call for this very reason – to help business owners. What are your plans for the future of Tara Punter Equestrian & Rural PR? Have you any exciting projects on the horizon that you can tell us about? My coaching programme has to be the biggest and most exciting! There are 2 options – an 8 week programme, with 4 modules (and some follow up work that I’ll analyse and go through with the individual, offering constructive criticism to help them get it right) and an intense power hour for those that already know about PR, but just need some areas fine tuning their campaign. Tell us about your animals that share your life. I have 2 very special ones – Ollie my ex-racehorse, whom I just adore, and Kiwi, my little Jack Russell (and office manager!) They’re both so special and time spent with each of them out in the fresh air is what really helps me unwind, whether riding or walking the dog. Animals are so important to me, I just can’t imagine life without them. My husband has lots of Aberdeen Angus cows too, which are just the friendliest you could wish to meet, so I do help with those too, although I’m sure they only like me as I treat them like a horse and scratch their withers! On a day off, where can we find you? Weekends off are actually something I’ve only just started having! Having been working 7 days a week for the past 3 years, I realise I can’t sustain that and actually it was affecting my health. I work very intense hours, and very long days from Monday to Friday and will occasionally do a couple of hours either Saturday morning or Sunday afternoon. But I love going on long walks, I like clay shooting and I love going to garden centres. Throw a pub lunch into the mix and you have the perfect day! Where do you see yourself in ten years time? Still in the Cotswolds, still riding and as the go to equestrian PR and equestrian PR coach in the U.K. There’s no going back now I’ve said it!   Against The Clock Bays, Greys or Chestnuts: Greys – despite having had 2 bays the past 2 times, a grey will always hold a special place in my heart. Champagne or Gin: Champagne! Schoolmaster or Youngster: Schoolmaster – she says retraining a racehorse! Sunshine or Snow: Sunshine all day long Home Cooked or Eating Out: Eating out – I do love to cook but it’s much more enjoyable when you haven’t had to do the food shop or wash up after! Spend or Save: Spend, I just like pretty things! Music or Film: Music, totally love music and never work in the office without it Horse Racing or Racing Cars: Horse racing but I do love fast cars! Email:

Chatting A Bit with Forces Equine

Celebrating its tenth year, Forces Equine is a not for profit organisation dedicated to supporting riders who are linked to the military and emergency services. The organisation also encourage associate members who have no direct links to the forces or emergency services to support this super organisation. No matter what your level, affiliation or services, Forces Equine will support and encourage the equestrian community. Next month, The Forces Equine Games will be held at Moreton Morrell College in Warwickshire showcasing the UK Public Services Community through equestrian sport. Samantha Hobden from Haynet recently caught up with Debi Heath French, founder of Forces Equine, to find out more about the future of the organisation and the exciting plans of the forthcoming games. The military is very much in your heart.  Tell us about your life in the forces. I started my military service in 1994 in the Territorial Army Royal Engineers before joining the Royal Corps of Signals as a Regular Soldier in 1996 for a further 5 years. I am married to David who is a serving Captain in the Royal Army Medical Corps. In 2008 Forces Equine was born. The original concept was for Forces Equine to be an informative sign post website for serving and dependants members to find riding yards, riding instructors, equine suppliers and riding competition information in their local areas following their every 2 year postings across the country, Germany and Cyprus. In 2012, British Showjumping approached us to form a partnership and the rest is history. We have grown into a UK recognised organisation dedicated to supporting UK Armed & Public Services personnel, serving, ex-serving and their dependants offering so much within the equestrian community. We are now in partnership with BS, BD, BE and BRC with top equine brand companies supporting our endeavours supporting up to 1300 members across the country competing in Show Jumping, Dressage and Eventing from grassroots up to international standard. I wanted to give something back to a community that is very close to my heart that I am passionate about and doing this through Forces Equine alongside my volunteers from several different services allows this to happen. What made you change direction and concentrate on Forces Equine? I left the Army due to a back injury and the fact I could not give 100% to my military career. I am a great believer in if you are going to do something you need to give it 100%. I started my own web design and hosting company in 2008 and therefore building a website for Forces Equine was going to be easy. Like our volunteers, Forces Equine is something we dedicate our spare time to, but the amount of effort we all put in you would think it was our full time career. Tell us about Forces Equine and what it stands for. Why was the organisation started? is an online equine site dedicated to the Combined and Individual Services Equitation.  Here you will be able to find the information & links you need to keep you up to date with what’s going on within Royal Navy, The British Army, Royal Air Force, Police, Fire Service, Ambulance Service & UK Public Services Equestrian World.  We keep you up to date with events, competitions, leagues, courses and discounts at saddle clubs and yards around the community. The organisation is for its members and therefore their input always counts. As I said earlier, the brand was simply to support married and single serving members to find yards, riding centres and competition information on posting. We imagine there must have been triumphs and challenges running Forces Equine. What part of it are you most proud of and what part has been the toughest challenge? Our members amaze me. Their dedication to their sport alongside their busy careers, whether they are serving or a parent of a rider, they give their discipline(s) 100%. We have had members win dressage at PSG, wins at the Global Champions Tour, qualifications to HOYS, wins at the Horse & Hound Unaffiliated Dressage Championships, qualifications to our British Dressage Associated Championships, wins at SCOPE and so much more, we are immensely proud. Our biggest hurdle has been getting the awareness of the organisation out there. We are not for profit so do not have massive budgets for advertising. This is all about to change as a publisher has offered us a magazine at no cost to the organisation which we will distribute, and it is FREE to get a copy. The Championships are coming up in October. Tell us about the event and how riders can take part? The Championships is a 2-day event and is based around our British Dressage Associated Championships. It has a day of unaffiliated Show Jumping, an afternoon Gala that showcases our members and involves a Q&A session, evening entertainment and then the following day is our unaffiliated and affiliated dressage championships. All proceeds go to the Warwickshire & Northamptonshire Air Ambulance and there will be so much going on for riders and non riders. The Championships takes place at Moreton Morrell College in Warwickshire on 20th & 21st October 2018. It is totally free to come along and watch and a few surprises on offer. For all the information required and how to enter please visit our website You have a super range of Ambassadors that promote Forces Equine. How important are they to the Organisation? Our Ambassadors are really very important to us, they support us in so many ways. Lucinda grew up in the Army and so Forces Equine was something close to her heart, Jo Williams is a wife of an ex-serving RAF officer, so she too wanted to show her support in training and as the team manager for our Blenheim team. Geoff Billington is a great friend to the organisation and supports in so many different ways and Scott Brash held clinics for us at his home and always shows his support when we are out and about at competitions that both our members and he are competing at. If riders want to join Forces Equine, how can they get involved? Riders just need to simply go to our website and fill out our membership form. It costs less than £0.87p per week to be a senior member and less than £0.68p per week to be a FEYRA member (Forces Equine Young Rider). Visit for more and we welcome all riders and all levels to the organisation. What are the hopes and for the future of Forces Equine? To grow, to carry on the great work that we do and watch our members achieve great things. The organisation has been a finalist at the Horse & Hound Awards and the Equestrian Social Media Awards, so we are doing the right thing. The future is looking great and we want the organisation to become stronger and offer more with our business partners and our members. We are also developing our Elite Programme which will allow our very top riders to gain support from companies to help them achieve what they are capable of in competing and winning at the very top of their disciplines. On a rare day off, where would we find you? With my husband, family, friends both 2 legs & 4. Relaxing and enjoying life in the East Midlands or London. Where do you see yourself in ten years time? Still working hard and celebrating 20 years of Forces Equine, we can hope ha ha.   Against The Clock Questions Champagne or Gin Champagne Silver or Gold  Silver Sunshine or Snow  Sunshine Night In or Night Out  Night Out Spend or Save  Spend Music or Films  Music Big Horses or Small Ponies  Big Horses   Please visit: Facebook Instagram Twitter

Chatting A Bit with Georgie Strang

With pony club the heart of her equestrian childhood and her GB endurance rider mother teaching her to ride, the eventing path was a natural one to follow for Georgie Strang. From gaining the ride of four-star horse Master Monarch, her international career kicked off in 2009 . Georgie quickly progressed to representing Great Britain at the University Championships in Korea with a silver team medal win and making her four-star debut at Burghley in 2010. Recent years has seen her Badminton and Nations Cup debut competing with a series of very talented horses. Now based at Sir Mark Todd’s yard, Georgie’s equestrian and eventing future continues to be a very exciting one! Samantha Hobden caught up with Georgie recently in Haynet’s Chatting A Bit series to find out more about Georgie Strang and her future equestrian plans: What is your earliest memory when riding ponies as a child? From the age of four, my sister Jo and I were always bombing around the farm, quite often bareback, on our amazing but very cheeky ponies –  with Mum shouting at us to slow down! Why did you choose to focus on eventing? Was it an easy decision to follow this direction into equestrian sport? I did all pony club activities as a kid, from mounted games to tetrathlon and have been so lucky to have such a supportive mother. I was a member of the Romney Marsh Pony Club, who were always amazing and played a huge part in the early days of my riding career. I had great friends and we were fairly competitive and successful which helped. I went straight from my 12.2 pony to a homebred 15.2 , who gave me my first taste of eventing success at the Pony Club championships. I think this is what gave me the eventing bug!  Since then I have had the opportunity, through friends and owners, to ride some extremely talented horses and I have never looked back! What do you look for in an event horse? Do you go with your gut feeling or should a horse meet a list of requirements? I definitely get a gut feeling. Conformation and type is essential. I am drawn to a kind eye and they must have a sense of presence. I look for athleticism and a feel of effortlessness in what they are doing, whether it’s trotting across the field or loose jumping. Which equestrian rider do you take inspiration from and why?   As a child, I was totally in awe of Tina Cook and Pippa Funnell. Being from the South East I got to see them at local events all the time. When I started BE Eventing at sixteen, I couldn’t believe I was competing alongside them. I have been lucky to get to know them over the years, and their kindness, talent, determination and humbleness inspires me even more today. If you hadn’t gone down the equestrian career path, what would have been your Plan B? I contemplated studying Physiotherapy at University. I’d have loved to have been a physio for a big sports team. What are your plans and goals for the rest of this year?  My autumn aims are Burghley with Diana Morrish’s Cooley Earl, and for the BYEH 5yo Championships with Global Quest. Then the young horse championships at Osberton with Monbeg Odyssey, Global Quest and Red Hot Cooley. Who have been your support network with your equestrian career?  I have been incredibly lucky to have such wonderful, supportive, understanding and knowledgeable parents, I certainly wouldn’t be where I am without them. I am also so lucky to have some truly amazing owners, who have stuck by me and supported me for many years. Along with being able to share the ups and downs with my partner Jesse Campbell. From your Badminton Trot Up outfit this year it is clear you have a keen eye for fashion and style. What are your favourite key pieces you could not live without? [Laughing] I don’t know about that. I am rarely out of breeches but I do love an excuse to feel more girlie. Even as a small child I’d be running around the farm in wellies and a dress. I couldn’t live without my Fairfax and Favour Kensington Boots that go with everything, and a heel just big enough for me not to go arse over tit! On a day off, where can we find you?    If I’m not eventing, Jesse probably is so I’ll be supporting him. Otherwise, I’ll be seeing friends and family. I love to just relax at home with the dogs and a good Netflix series, but it’s not often I get the chance. Where would you like to be in ten years time?  I would love to eventually have my own yard and continue to produce young horses to the top level for wonderful owners. Hopefully winning lots of prizes along the way! Against The Clock Bays, Greys or Chestnuts: Bays Champagne or Gin: Champagne Schoolmaster or Youngster: Youngster Sunshine or Snow: Sunshine Home Cooked or Eating Out: Eating Out Spend or Save: Spend Music or Film: Film Horse Racing or Racing Cars: Horse Racing   You can find Georgie Strang on Facebook and Instagram  Georgie and her horses are supported by Balanced Horse Feeds. For efficient nutrition and to find out more about Balanced Horse Feeds, please visit: /

Chatting A Bit With Matt Hicks

Born into a non-horsey family, it became apparent from an early age that Matt Hicks was mad about all things equestrian. Matt has worked and competed horses all his life being an international dressage rider and former international eventer. With also being an accredited British Dressage trainer, UKCC Level 3 coach and a young horse judge, life at Hicks Equestrian is an incredibly busy and successful one. Samantha Hobden caught up with Matt recently in Haynet’s Chatting A Bit series to find out more about Matt Hicks and his future equestrian plans: What is your earliest memory when riding ponies as a child? Enjoying pony club on my Shetland pony called Camilla. Why did you choose to focus on dressage? Was it an easy decision to follow this direction into equestrian sport? I evented Internationally up until 2002 and I had always enjoyed the dressage training and it seemed the natural progression. What has been the challenges and triumphs of running your own yard?  It’s very hard work but very rewarding. I am lucky to have a great team behind me. What do you look for in a dressage horse? Do you go with your gut feeling or should a horse meet a list of requirements in your professional eye?  For me, they need to uphill and reactive, but mainly it’s down to gut feeling. Which equestrian rider do you take inspiration from and why?   Carl and Charlotte are such talented dedicated riders and brilliant trainers. Ginny Elliott (Leng) was a great inspiration when I evented, again all her horse were produced and presented so well for the job. If you hadn’t gone down the equestrian career path, what would have been your Plan B? There was NO plan B! What are your plans and goals for the rest of this year?  To compete Excalibur and Sheepcote Walnut at International Big Tour and continue to produce our lovely young horses.  Who have been your support network with your equestrian career?  Mathew, my partner of 27 years has played a key part of my career – he ensures everything behind the senses run smoothly. And I’m fortunate to have a brilliant team of staff (past and present) and great owners too! On a day off, where can we find you?    When I get a day off! I enjoy gardening or a trip to London to the theatre. Where would you like to be in ten years time? Hopefully more of the same!   Against the Clock Questions Bays, Greys or Chesnuts: Greys Champagne or Beer: Champagne  Schoolmaster or Youngster: Youngster Sunshine or Snow: Snow Home Cooked or Eating Out: Eating Out Spend or Save: Spend   Music or Film: Music Horse Racing or Racing Cars: Horse Racing  Please visit Hicks Equestrian Hicks Equestrian on Facebook Matt Hicks is sponsored by Balanced Horse Feeds –

Tea in the Tack Room with Kim Wilson

Pegasus Jewellery has a steeped history of British excellence. Jewellery is all that founder Kim Wilson has ever known and in the last few years has diversified her business into the equestrian industry. Samantha Hobden caught up with Kim recently in Haynet’s Tea in the Tack Room series to find out more about how Kim juggles and her busy work with family life running Pegasus Jewellery: The jewellery business seems to be in your blood! Tell us about your how your love for a career in the jewellery industry started. My Great Grandfather opened his first jewellery store back in 1909, and the business has been handed down through my grandfather to my father. I have very early memories of sitting beside my Grandfather at his repair bench pretending to fix old scraps of jewellery. Growing up, at home, the dinner table conversation was always about jewellery. As the industry has changed and brand such as Pandora and Thomas Sabo have taken prominence in the high street I love following the fashion trends from the catwalk to the high street. Jewellery makes people feel special, it highlights important milestones like engagements, weddings, birthday and anniversaries. It’s wonderful being part of that. Where did the idea to branch into equestrian jewellery come from? I can tell you exactly the moment! I was at Blair Horse Trials for the FEI Longines European Championship, watching Michael Jung receive his Gold Medal from the Queen. I had been thinking about launching my own silver collection, but couldn’t find the inspiration and then I had a ‘eureka’ moment. Horses and Jewellery have been the two biggest influences in my life, so why not combine them? As soon as I got home I was at the kitchen table designing my first collection, which was the Pearl Sparkle Horseshoe set. From then, I’ve never looked back. What made you settle on the name Pegasus? Originally I was going to call the collection COLT. I had all the graphics and logos designed. However, one night I was reading a bedtime story to my daughter, Charlotte “Usborne Book of Mythical Characters’ about the winged Stallion Pegasus. A the end of the story Charlotte said “that would be a good name for your jewellery, Mummy” and I knew instantly she was right. A symbolisation of my dreams taking flight like the beautiful winged horse.  You are a busy mother not only running a business but fit in owning horses, dogs and of course your family! How do you manage to fit it all in? I’m not going to pretend I’m superwoman, I’m far from it. My Husband is in the Royal Navy and works away, so at times it’s been very hard. At the beginning, I would put the children to bed and sit at the kitchen table designing jewellery, while taking online courses to learn how to build my own website till the early hours of the morning, then up at 6 to get ready for nursery/school run and then a full days work. Looking back I don’t know how I did it. However, I have a great support network now and I don’t regret a moment of it. Hard work and determination really does pay off. What are your aims for Pegasus and have you plans to extend the range you offer? Oh gosh! If I’m honest I never believed in my wildest dreams Pegasus would become as big as it is today, and we are still growing. The launch of the Vitality Bracelet in October has pushed sales globally. We do a lot of trade with NZ and Australia and that is set to expand this year. The Vitality range will grow as we develop more styles of bracelets to boost the body and mind. As for the range, I am working on a range that can be personalised with horses names or notable events. We have just launched two pieces in collaboration with Blogger Mud on my Mulberry, which has been a huge success and we are working on something very exciting with the wonderful Victoria Brant (Diary of a Wimpy Eventer) Watch this space! What is the most important factor in a piece of jewellery, style or practicality? I think both are equally important. With the Vitality bracelet it has to be practical and its aim, using magnetic therapy is to make you feel good. Some of my designs are for special occasions to glam up an outfit, other pieces are to be worn every day. I think the most important factor in my range is the highest quality at affordable prices. My target market are horse owners and horses are expensive. I want them to be able to treat themselves and feel good, without weighing up extravagant costs. Tell us about the triumphs and challenges running an equestrian jewellery business. What part of it are you most proud of? Triumphs- I am incredibly proud of Team Pegasus. My team of Brand Bloggers, Sponsored Riders and Ambassadors. There are 14 of us, including my PR Tara Punter and we are a tight knit group. We have a hilarious group chat and they are 100% behind me in supporting my brand. Challenges- The equestrian world is a difficult and very critical one. Getting breakthroughs at the very beginning was very, very hard and I really sympathise with anyone trying to launch a new equestrian brand, because it’s hard. I remember being in floods of tears one evening, I had contacted some Equestrian Bloggers at the very beginning to ask if they would review a product for me, and I received some horrid replies. I will never forget them or their replies,  ironically they have contacted me since begging to review products. On a rare day off, where would we find you? Stables! My daughter has a lead rein show pony, and a new pony for this year, which we trail the country with, so that takes up every minute of every weekend during the season. I love it though! On a rare moment of peace and quiet, you will find me curled up in my huge armchair with my Beagle, Sasha and a large glass of Malbec. Where do you see yourself in ten years time? I have no idea where this crazy Pegasus journey will take me, but wherever I am I hope my family and I are content and happy. Against The Clock Questions Champagne or Gin Gin ( Edinburgh Rhubarb and Ginger with Fever tree Ginger to be precise!) Silver or Gold Silver Sunshine or Snow Sunshine Night In or Night Out Night out- what’s that? Night In Spend or Save Save Music or Films Music Big Horses or Small Ponies Small Ponies Please visit: Pegasus Jewellery

Tea in the Tack Room with Tom Jackson

Kent born Tom Jackson has been surrounded by horses all his life. After finishing school with a sports scholarship, Tom spent the next two years breaking and schooling young and troublesome horses working for Sasha Pemple. With this valuable experience, he joined Dassett Eventing which took him to the next step of running his own yard which includes training four horses that are competing at advanced/3* level. Having completed Badminton in 2017 for the first time on his horse Waltham Fiddlers’ Find (Wes), Tom is now working towards achieving his goals of representing Team GBR at the Olympics and World Equestrian Games in years to come, together with running at Badminton again this year. Samantha Hobden caught up with Tom recently in Haynet’s Tea in the Tack Room series, to find out more about his busy life training and competing his event horses and what the future holds. What is your earliest memory when riding ponies as a child? Tell us about your childhood spent with horses and ponies We went to a local show on my leading rein pony to do a show jumping class. It was going really well until Mum didn’t jump high enough and knocked a pole down! I just remember being very annoyed needless to say I haven’t let her forget it. Why did you choose to focus on eventing? Was it an easy decision to follow this direction into equestrian sport? For me, it’s always been eventing. Even when I was at school all I wanted to do was get my exams out the way so I could go and work for a rider.     You have worked with young and troublesome horses in the past – what would be your advice to an owner that is having a difficult time with their young horse’s behaviour?  Keep things simple and clear. People can sometimes get caught up in the middle ground where the horse doesn’t understand and the rider isn’t getting what they want. Make it as black and white as you can so they can understand what you want from them. What has been the challenges and triumphs of running your own yard? I’ll start with the triumphs. I am very proud and feel very privileged that we have been able to build such a large string of quality horses with a hugely supportive backbone of owners who make it all possible. I always dreamt of being in the position I am now but making it a reality seemed a million miles away at some points. The challenges for us are trying to build a successful and sustainable business in what is renowned for being a tough industry to make enough money when you’re not fortunate enough to have parents financial baking. We have been incredibly lucky to have invaluable support from the Jenkins my oldest owners who help with the running and setup of the business was instrumental in the first couple of years.     What do you look for in a competition horse? Do you go with your gut feeling or should a horse meet a list of requirements in your professional eye? I think the most important things to look for are horses that have a good brain and conformation. Which equestrian rider do you take inspiration from and why? Pippa Funnell, mainly because she has won everything but also because of the way she trains and produces her horses. I have been lucky enough to train with Pippa for the past 18 months and love the way she goes about riding. If you hadn’t gone down the equestrian career path, what would have been your Plan B? There wasn’t really a plan B. It was a shit or bust approach. What are your plans and goals for this year? The big aim for this year has to be a top 10 place at Badminton. Who have been your support network with your equestrian career? Too many people to name, there has been so many people over the years that have helped get me to this point. Of course all of my owners, staff and sponsors as well as Pippa for all her support, but the biggest support has to have come from my girlfriend and yard manager Sabrina, we started the business together and she is as much the reason for any success we have as I am. On a day off, where can we find you? In our job they are a rare occurrence but when we do its a pub lunch or Netflix and chill! Against The Clock Questions Bays, Greys or Chesnuts   Bay Champagne or Beer   Beer Schoolmaster or Youngster   A talented Youngster Home Cooked or Eating Out  Eating out Spend or Save    Save Music or Film    Film Horse Racing or Racing Cars    Horse racing     Please visit Tom Jackson Eventing: Follow on Facebook  Header Image: Credit Nigel Goddard

Tea in the Tack Room With Daniele Bizzarro

Italian born Daniele Bizzarro swapped life on the outskirts of Turin for English soil to pursue an eventing career. Working as a rider for William Fox Pitt, Dan learned invaluable experience from him which then led to a move to his own yard continuing his ambitious journey to the top of the eventing scene. Samantha Hobden caught up with Dan recently in Haynet’s Tea in the Tack Room series, to find out more about his busy life training and competing his event horses and what the future holds. Do you remember the day when you first fell in love with horse riding? Tell us about your Italian childhood spent with horses. I fell in love with riding when going to the yard with my mother when I was about 8. I started riding from there once a week. A couple of years later and was riding there 3 or 4 times per week. The rest they say is history! Was it an easy decision to focus a career in equestrian sport? Did you have any doubts? Yes, I had lots of doubts – it’s never an easy decision to make. I did Architecture at University in Italy so I knew I had an alternative option if the riding didn’t work out. I finished University and decided to give it a go. I then started to ride for an Italian, Bolaffi, who has been my sponsor now for the past 4 years.   What do you look for in a competition horse? Has there been a horse that you have ridden that taught you more than others? I primarily look for confirmation and attitude – I normally don’t pay too much attention to breeding, apart from the amount of blood they’ve got. I go with what I feel when I ride rather than what I see. Every horse I’ve ridden has helped me learn more about horses in general and helped me to advance my riding technique. Was the decision to move to the UK an easy one? How often do you get a chance to go back to Italy to see your family? The decision wasn’t easy but there are more opportunities in the UK – I was thinking of moving for about a year before I did. The fact I was employed by William Fox-Pitt made that decision a bit easier, everything was so exciting. The past 7 years have been harder than I thought, but at the same time, it’s what has made the journey so exciting and rewarding. What has been your career highlight so far and has there been any lows when you have questioned competing horses? Being placed 5th in the Italian Championships in 2009 was definitely a highlight, as was competing at Blenheim in 2016. It’s always been one of my favourite events. There have been lots of lows – unfortunately, our sport has more difficult days than easy. As we all know it’s a hard life to live, every day there is a huge amount of commitment required for a small economical return. I’ve had a few days where I wondered if I should have used my time, effort and money to do something else that would give me an easier life, and a little bit more money. But, I get to do what I love every day. I don’t do it to become a millionaire, I don’t need to be a millionaire so I may as well carry on doing what I love. What are your competition plans this year? Where can we see you ride? In the next couple of months, I will start to get the horses out at the National events with the aim to compete at Ascott-under-Wychwood on the 15th April. Then we’ll go from there!   Which equestrian rider do you take inspiration from and why? I look up to Michel Jung, he’s unquestionably the best event rider of the moment. I love the fact it’s mostly his way of producing and riding the horses and his relationship with them that made him so successful. Some of his horses aren’t amazing jumpers or movers but they get the job done without making mistakes. It’s certainly something to learn from. From a management point of view, William Fox-Pitt – his way of treating the horses as animals that need to live as animals, not robots is admirable. Tell us an interesting fact about yourself?  I used to write poems when I was younger! Unfortunately, I stopped when I was about 18. I love music – I play lots instruments; I’m good on the drums, piano, guitar, clarinet and saxophone. On a day off, where can we find you? I love visiting places and doing sports, like playing football and tennis with my friends. I do enjoy having down time and doing things that normal people do such as going out for Sunday lunch and spending time with friends. Where would you like to be in ten years time? Exactly where I am now doing exactly what I’m doing now but with a couple of 4* horses in the yard.   Against The Clock Questions Bays, Greys or Chesnuts? Bay Champagne or Beer? Champagne Schoolmaster or Youngster? Youngster Pasta or Pies? Pies Spend or Save? Spend Books or Music? Music Horse Racing or Racing Cars? Racing cars   Please visit: and follow Dan on Facebook

Riding Through The Concrete Fields With The Urban Equestrian Academy

If you think horse riding is purely enjoyed through the rural counties of the UK, then think again. The Urban Equestrian Academy is a super initiative set up recently to encourage children living in an urban environment to encourage the love of riding and working with horses and ponies. Haynet recently interviewed the founder of Azeezah’s Pony Club, Freedom Zampaladus who gave an insight on how this equestrian project was set up among the streets of Leicester: This is a great initiative to promote equestrian sport to young children, especially those who have not had contact with horses and ponies before. How did this idea come about? My story in relation to how I got into the ‘Equestrian World’ is extremely unique, so much so that 2 years ago I decided to write my autobiography about it. It’s called ‘From the Hood 2 Horses’ and is available on or through my website Today I work in partnership with a number of ‘Equestrian Centres/ Riding Schools’. The idea for ‘Azeezah’s Junior Pony Club’ came after my daughter’s observation of my involvement/ history with horses. Having heard my stories being aware of my book and being active working with these animals, one day she said she wanted a pony. Not being in a position to buy her a pony but being on a mission to set up my equestrian business I thought if I can’t buy her a pony, I will develop a ‘Pony Club’ as one of our services in her name for all socially excluded disadvantaged young peoples. The Pony Club is named after my daughter. How have the children reacted to spending time with the horses and ponies? They have absolutely loved it!! We have overachieved in all departments and received support from right across the country. We have over 50 registered young people all extremely enthusiastic and grateful for the opportunity we have given them. We haven’t even promoted the service in a major way due to the nature of the funding we received, as the terms and conditions linked to it mean we have to work within a specific locality. We aim to expand on this in the coming months. Have any of the children changed their outlook on life in the country and taking part in equestrian activities? Yes absolutely! The age range we work with regards the ‘Pony Club’ is 6 years of age to 12 years of age and so I wouldn’t say they have changed their outlook on life in the country as they don’t know much about living in the country, but I can say they have taken to being out in the country extremely well. I believe the freedom experienced being out of the ‘Concrete Jungle’ has meant happier children; our sessions run weekly on a Thursday evening term time and we get a full house of young people every week (15 – 20). Our Pony Play Schemes and Camps have been equally popular and successful which run during the half terms. Has any aspiring equestrian talent come to light with the children that have been riding through Azeezah’s Pony Playscheme? Our youngsters have only ridden during the May half term. Which entailed six rides over 3 intensive days as the Club is non–riding and the Playscheme is riding. They’ve had a limited time riding; however what has been astonishing is the desire shown to want to ride and want to improve their riding ability as most of these youngsters had never ever ridden before. The feedback from the equestrian world has been amazing in that they too are astonished at the ability of these young people in relation to these youngsters riding ability, with a number of individuals displaying a natural balance when it comes to riding. Our aim is to now develop the club further by seeking further support/ funding to allow the young people involved a more consistent level of riding. How can people help with supporting this super equestrian initiative? Well, all and any help/ support is more than welcome; one way you can support us is by donating to our crowdfunding campaign which was launched last October. We are aiming to raise £8.3k for own 17 seater minibus which will allow us to deliver not only on a more consistent basis but will allow us to generate an income and deliver more ‘Pony Club’ sessions and develop and deliver other sessions we have in the pipeline. For further information on how you can donate please visit our website , my website where you can find out about my personal journey as well as my other business activities or go directly to Equally, if you believe you can assist us in other capacities we would absolutely love to hear from you as our ultimate goal is to have our own land base for the ‘Urban Equestrian Academy’ to be able to deliver our philosophy through ‘Equine Assisted Learning’ programmes on a full-time basis.