Posted: 13th September 2021 | Back to news feed

BETA International showcased saddlery craftsmanship and the skills of talented apprentices and trainees over the three days as they competed for top awards in the Society of Master Saddlers’ competitions.

Always a popular draw for visitors to the trade fair, the competitions bring a lot of interest to the Saddlery Pavilion to see the range of leather work being made.


The Worshipful Company of Saddlers kindly donated the prize money and BETA International provided the competition area, their continuous support is much appreciated

Said Hazel Morley of the Society of Master Saddlers: “As ever we were delighted that the competition brought a lot of interest from visitors to the trade fair and it was wonderful to see so many people.

Entries for the Miniature and President’s Choice classes at the SMS National Competition were also on display.

The theme for the Miniature class is a piece of leather riding, driving or schooling equipment and for the President’s Choice the concept chosen by current president Bea Blakeman is ‘For the Love of Dogs’.

On the Thursday apprentices training at the Saddlery Training Centre took part and made a foal slip.

The winner was Gudrun Thuesen of David Dyer Saddles, with Hannah O’Neill of Cirencester Saddlers taking second place.

Said Gudrun: “This is my third year taking part in the competition at BETA International and as ever it was just great.

“I am delighted to win and it was also lovely to catch up with so many people and have a look round the trade fair.”

Judges Helen Reader and Emma Hallam said: “All the foal slips were made to an excellent standard and it really was down to the smallest detail when it came to choosing the winner.  Well done to all.”

On the Friday students about to commence their second year of training at Capel Manor College made a bridle headpiece, students taking part were Charlotte Sheppard, Charlotte Lowes, Regina Mitchell and very last minute replacement, Amy Krywiuk who took up the challenge on the day without her own tools to use.

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Judges Catherine Baker and Lisa Hoskins, chose Charlotte Shephard to take the winner’s prize and Regina Mitchell the runner-up spot.

Said Catherine: “We would like to say a big thankyou to Amy for stepping in at the very last minute and without her own tools, a great effort.”

Added Charlotte: “This is my first time ever at BETA International and also competing.  I have really enjoyed it and of course to win is just fantastic.  I was a bit nervous at first but it was a wonderful atmosphere and everyone supported each other.”

Saturday saw Millie Wells and Amy Biggs of the Saddlery Training Centre make a belt with Chris Taylor and Frances Roche taking on the task of judging.

Having travelled from North Devon that morning, Millie was thrilled to win, the award making the long journey very worthwhile.

Said Millie: “I left home at 4am but it has been a fabulous day and myself and Amy have had great fun as well so the trip home won’t seem half as far.”

Information about the Society of Master Saddlers can be found on the website: or telephone 01449 711642.

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