The Princess Royal chats with the Saddlers’ Company Prime Warden Lucy Atherton and Master Saddler Suzie Fletcher as they’re surrounded by school children at the Company’s Saddlery Showcase.

Key industry figures join royalty and schoolchildren to celebrate the best of British saddlery.  

Inspiring a new generation of saddlers was the theme of a Saddlery Showcase run by the Saddlers’ Company earlier this month.

The new event – attended by The Princess Royal, who is Perpetual Master of the Saddlers’ Company - was part of a three-day celebration of British saddlery hosted by the Company at Saddlers’ Hall in London. 

The programme included this year’s Society of Master Saddlers (SMS) National Saddlery Competition, the introduction of an equine fitters’ directory and presentation on the importance of saddlery to the future of riding. 

The annual National Saddlery Competition was back at full strength following the pandemic with 120 entries in nearly 30 categories (See the results in Skill wins through at National Saddlery Competition). 

Following the competition, the Company and SMS put the winning entries on show for a diverse range of invited guests to enjoy.  

They included pupils from Islington Academy and Alleyn’s School, City University of London students, young people from Ebony Horse Club, the British Racing School and the Fortune Centre for Riding Therapy.

On show was leather and saddlery crafted by staff and students from Capel Manor College, the Saddlery Training Centre, the Royal Mews, the Kings Troop, the Household Cavalry Mounted Regiment and Master Saddler Suzie Fletcher, star of BBC TV’s The Repair Shop. 

Training courses and qualifications available in the saddlery sector were explained for those considering a career in the industry.

Equine fitters applauded 

Later in the day, equine fitters - who fit bridles, bits, harnesses and saddles to horses - were recognised and congratulated on the completion of various fitting courses and qualifications by the Prime Warden of the Saddlers’ Company, Lucy Atherton.

“Professional equine fitting sits at the heart of a healthy equestrian sector and is a key factor in improving standards of horse and rider welfare and wellbeing,” she said. 

“By acknowledging the achievements of those determined to improve standards and to raise awareness, we hope that all in the equestrian sector will continue to enjoy responsible riding in all its forms.”

An Equine Fitters’ Directory is to be launched by the Saddlers’ Company in partnership with the Loriners’ Company, added Mrs Atherton. 

“Overseen by an independent council, it will provide an independent resource for equine professionals, riders and horse owners whilst contributing to public confidence. It will be the independent authority for equine fitters – setting standards, promoting education, and encouraging professional practice within the industry.”

Importance of saddlery

The third day featured displays from saddlery and leather businesses and organisations attended by representatives of British equestrian organisations.  

The finale was a presentation on the final evening by Yeoman of the Company and equine vet Dr Jane Nixon on The Future of Riding – The growing importance of saddlery.

About the Saddlers’ Company

This ancient Livery Company has been supporting the trade and craft of saddlery in the UK for over 850 years. Its work today in sustaining the sector remains as important as it has always been.  

The Royal Charter granted by Queen Elizabeth II in 1995 states that the first object of the Saddlers Company is ‘The furtherance of the craft of saddlery and activities associated with the craft of saddlery’.  

The Charter grants the Company duties under the Act of Parliament to ‘lay down the standards of education, training, competence and experience appropriate for practitioners in the Craft of Saddlery.’