Zoe Hurst from Wiltshire is the winner of the 2020 Abbey England Saddlery Scholarship.

She was presented with her prize of £500 worth of workshop tools by Richard Brown, CEO of Abbey England, at BETA International last month.

Zoe studied leatherworking at Capel Manor College and is currently apprenticed at Cirencester Saddlery under the tutelage of Master Saddler, Laurence Pearman. 

A love of horses drew Zoe to saddlery; she’s since developed an interest in textiles and construction. 

“When I think of saddlery, I see an industry steeped in history and tradition, but that’s not all I see,” she said. “The industry is in revival and I’m excited for its future. 

“Leather is such a unique material; the skills required to simply stitch it are incredible and deserve more recognition.”

Although Zoe’s training has centred around bridle-work, her passion is for harness-work. She enjoys the variety of her role too. Recent projects have included working on a bespoke bridle, replicating a World War II anti-tank gun gaiter and a saddle re-flock.

Zoe aims to become a qualified saddler, saddle fitter and, eventually, a Master Saddler. She’d also like to learn to make and fit harness collars.  

Wishing her all the best for her future career, Richard Brown added: “We are very happy to provide support to another up-and-coming trainee saddler to enable her to achieve her dreams within the industry. 

“It’s fantastic to have seen the enthusiasm for this traditional craft in the many applications we received for the scholarship.”