“She was extremely determined.”

Lucy Ward, one of the most influential figures in the equestrian trade over the past three decades, died on Sunday, 7 April. She was 68.

Diagnosed with lung cancer two years ago, Lucy passed away after suffering a stroke. 

Lucy was married to the late Nick Ward whose family founded Hydrophane Laboratories. The couple ran the famous equestrian company with great success, turning it into an international brand.

Lucy Ward, who has died, was much admired across the equestrian trade. 

In 1997, after Hydrophane was sold to Battles, Lucy and Nick set up Horsemasters Distribution for the exclusive wholesale of Mountain Horse products. 

Following Nick’s sudden death from a heart attack aged 50 in 2003, Lucy continued at the helm of Horsemasters Distribution. She was managing director until 2022 when, by mutual agreement, Mountain Horse distribution reverted to its head office in Sweden. 

“Even though Lucy had supported Nick all through the Hydrophane days, nobody ever asked her to run the business after he died so suddenly,” her brother-in-law Joe Ward told ETN.

“But she just stood up and said she had to do it, and she ran that company incredibly well. She had an unfailing loyalty to Nick, so to her, there was never any question she would not carry on. 

“What she did was remarkable. Lucy was very intelligent and extremely determined, as well as kind and thoughtful.”

Early life

The young Lucy was head girl at her school. She was keen on ballet, an interest which stayed with her throughout her life.

She studied at secretarial school, then worked in London as a director’s secretary. 

Joe believes Nick and Lucy met via mutual friends. “When Nick was racing motor cars, she would always go and cheer him on. Afterwards, we’d all meet up with friends in a London pub.” 

Tributes from the trade

Lucy and Nick were one the most outstanding partnerships our industry has ever seen, says Mike Williams, a contemporary and former sales director at saddlery manufacturer E Jeffries.

“He was a remarkable innovator and Lucy was always there alongside him. Hydrophane offered a different approach from what most of us were doing at the time,” added Mike. 

“They were masters of importing from the growing arena of supply in the Far East, had enormous drive and innovative marketing techniques. 

“Nick and Lucy Ward sold all sorts of products but their team pulled off what was, in my view, the ultimate marketing success. 

“They took a relatively background product – a can of Hydrophane Leather Dressing - which at the time was in a highly competitive market sector, and managed to place it in every saddlery shop in the world. Extraordinary marketing by any standards.”

Lucy remained passionate about supporting retailers with creative marketing campaigns during her time running Horsemasters Distribution. 

Speaking from Mountain Horse in Sweden, Bertil Sjösward said Lucy was “a cherished friend and respected business associate.”

He added: “Lucy proved kind and generous with an unwavering commitment to her loved ones, and to us who had the blessing to work with her.  

“For 20 years, she worked tirelessly together side-by-side with us and her equally committed staff, and her passion for the business and the brand is the reason why it has both prevailed and excelled in this very competitive market scene.”      

Giving something back

The Ward family had long supported equestrian sport, notably through their great show jumper Hydrophane Coldstream, ridden by Derek Ricketts to international glory in the 1980/90s golden age of show jumping. 

Lucy continued the tradition and particularly enjoyed supporting up and coming young riders with sponsorship. 

Lucy leaves two children, Alexander and Katie, and two grandchildren to whom she was devoted.

There’s to be a private family funeral followed by a memorial service at a later date.