Here we talk to Society of Master Saddlers’ Development Officer, Catherine Morris about her role in the saddlery industry and her life with horses.
Catherine Morris – A Passion for Saddlery
Tell us about your background with horses?
I first started having riding lessons when I was about three or four-years-old. The formidable woman who taught me was the same person who taught my Mum to ride. She was in her late 70s and could be heard booming ‘Up! Up!’ through the village as she taught my brother and I rising trot.
As soon as I could cadge a lift I worked as a ‘helper’ at a local riding school, and then at 13-years-old we took on ‘Melody’, a black Welsh C with two blue eyes. She was my first love, after Karate Kid. I am now human helper to ‘Muppet’, a semi-retired Irish Sport Horse mare and ‘Mole’ an interesting young New Forest gelding.
What jobs have you done over the years?
Most of my working life has been spent in a suit, although I thought longingly about working as a saddle-fitter from my early twenties. My most recent roles were with manufactures of medical devices. This has been useful for my role as saddle-fitter and as Development Officer in that I understand the cost and process of design and manufacture.
What do you hope to bring in your new SMS role?
I hope to bring my experience in developing projects and products from the ground up to my new role. I gained knowledge of finding a good middle ground between what people want or need and what can be produced, whether product or service. My experience in the corporate environment brings focus to the role, although I’m still terrible at doing expenses! My lifelong love and awe of horses and ponies gives me the passion to help deliver change,
How is it going so far?
I hope it is going well so far. We have started working more closely with other organisations and have been hearing what people need in terms of learning materials and events. There is a lot of work to do and I am doing as much as I can in a part-time role. This initial period has involved getting a feel on where the SMS are currently, and where we need to be. I am very much looking forward to 2018 as it is a positive time for SMS, and I am delighted to be part of their team.
What would you like to achieve in the next five years?
In the next five years I would like to gain recognition within the UK equine community for the incredible products we make in this country, and just what value this brings in terms of robust design, the best material, and comfort for horse and human. I would also like to see the growth of the society and greater recognition for the role it holds within the equine industry. Finally, I would also like to see us working with key organisations to give support and education to those who ride, own or work with horses.
Tell us about your hobbies, time away from work?
Does poo-picking count as a hobby? I spend my time with my mature, yet still hooligan poodles called Loki and Lila. I also spend my time away from work with my husband.