Find out who came out on top in recent competitions.

Saddlers’ skills and creativity were on show in competitions run by the Society of Master Saddlers (SMS) during BETA International at NAEC Stoneleigh on 10/11 September.

Twelve items were put forward for the pre-made competition themed ‘a leather case for an everyday item. The ingenious designs included a poker dice set, a hip flask cover and a butterfly leather water bottle carrier.

Visitors were invited to vote for their favourites over the show’s two days. 

Each item was also judged by SMS Past President Helen Reader, SMS Training Officer Mark Romain and Hugh Taylor, Prime Warden of The Saddlers’ Company.

The winner was Hattie Crabtee for her oak carved drinks holder with an acorn on top; runner-up was Claire Davenport for her spur case; and third place went to Gabrielle Mitchley for her carved book cover/case.

Prize-winning items will be displayed at the National Saddlery Competition held at Saddlers’ Hall, London on 6 February, 2024. 

Live action at the bench

Apprentices and trainee saddlers contested the SMS Bridle Making Competition for a prize fund donated by the Worshipful Company of Saddlers.

The brave participants made set bridle parts live at the bench, watched by BETA International visitors. 

On the first day, apprentices and trainees training under Mark Romain from The Saddlery Training Centre in Salisbury each made a pair of bridle cheeks. 

The judges were SMS past President and Master Saddler, Frances Roche, and Vice President and Master Saddler Karen Schlotter. 

Entrants received certificates in recognition of their participation from the Prime Warden of The Saddlers’ Company, Hugh Taylor.

First place went to Gabrielle Mitchley, an apprentice with Chris Taylor. In second place was Narinka Whitcher, employed by Laurence Pearman 

Day two saw two self-employed saddlers, both working towards their saddlery qualifications at The Saddlery Training Centre, at the bench making bridle headpieces.  

The judges were Master Saddler and SMS President Chris Taylor and Master Saddler Laurence Pearman. 

Entrants each received a certificate in recognition of their participation from Helen Reader, Past President of the Society.

First place went to Frances Ridley and the runner-up was Alyssa Nimmo.