HELEN Reader has been appointed as the new President of the Society of Master Saddlers.
Well-known throughout the industry, Helen runs HR Saddlery in Carmarthenshire and is a Society of Master Saddlers Master Saddler, Master Bridle Maker, Master Harness Maker, Registered Master Saddle Fitter and Registered Qualified Bridle Fitter.
She also very successfully competes her two 17hh grey geldings in eventing, show jumping and dressage.
Helen will work closely with Chief Executive, Hazel Morley, and the Executive Committee, along with the sub-committees over the coming year and was appointed to this new position at the Society of Master Saddlers’ AGM.
Helen takes over from Bea Blakeman, with Chris Taylor moving into the Vice President’s role.
Recounting her year in office Bea said: “I’d firstly like to start off by showing my appreciation to the whole of the Executive team who have supported me this year. In particular, Ted our past president, Hazel our CEO, Catherine Morris our Strategy & Development Officer and of course Helen Reader, your soon to be President.
“During the global pandemic, the saddlery trade has fared better than others. After the initial lockdown, the majority of our members saw a sharp increase in demand for their products and services as consumers with increased leisure time and restricted lives, tried desperately to spend their disposable income.
“As we move towards 2022 and hopefully steadier times, demand is still high as with many other trades and keeping up with supply has become a continual challenge.
“The spring summer months have been extremely busy for the Executive who also undertook a complete Strategic review.
“With the help of consultant Peter Holt and our own Catherine Morris we have been able to create a Roadmap for the future.
“The process itself required us to step outside of our comfort zone. Unlike previous strategy reviews, the whole of the Executive was invested in bringing the project forward.
“My aim as President was to add value to your membership and I firmly believe this exercise and road map will enable this to happen further and I’m delighted that we are able to share this with you today.”
On her appointment Helen added: “I would like to start by adding my thanks to Hazel, the Executive Committee members and officers for all their work and assistance to me as Vice President over the last year. I would like to especially thank Catherine Morris for all the work undertaken on the Strategic Review and Bea for bringing the Society successfully through another difficult year.
“Things are now slowly returning to some normality, it was lovely to see so many friends and members in person at both the BETA Trade Show and the National Society Competition. I look forward to more opportunities over the coming year to meet up in person with everybody.
“It was attending events like these and the AGM when it was hosted in venues over the country, Capel Manor College, York Race Course and The Household Cavalry to name a few, meeting and getting to know Society members and officials, which gave me the confidence to stand for the Executive committee and now to become President.
“Looking forward to my term in office, as an individual member, of which we form about 60% of the membership, I will ensure our voice and needs are continued to be represented alongside those of our retail and trade members both within the society and equestrian industry.
“The pandemic has driven some changes as many people have re-evaluated what is important to them, with a move back to traditional values and a higher appreciation of quality and sustainable products combined with a desire to reduce carbon footprint. This offers a real opportunity for both craft and trade members as the society ‘brand’ is synonymous with quality and high standards. I will aim to build on the excellent work which has gone before on training, qualifications and raising standards which will provide confidence to the industry and public in all aspects of our members’ work.
Alongside the opportunities there are also challenges to be faced, the Society has already acknowledged the escalation in activity around ‘social licence’ and the long-term implications for ‘the riding of horses’ with the potential devastating effect on our industry if not addressed. Promoting quality and correctly fitting saddlery to improve horse welfare will be one of my main priorities.
“I was part of the working group who, alongside City & Guilds, designed and implemented the new Bridle Fitting & Measuring Qualification which along with events like the 2021 Society Virtual Event ‘Fit for Welfare’ will provide the Society with the opportunity to promote knowledge and learning to associated professionals and the public. The Society is working in conjunction with Redwings and the Horse Trust in designing an online CPD Welfare Course for members to update their knowledge on spotting and dealing with potential welfare issues.
“I’m really looking forward to the next 12 months and both the opportunities and challenges that lay ahead for the Society.”
For more information on the Society of Master Saddlers visit www.mastersaddlers.co.uk