Posted: 27th September 2022 | Back to news feed

This year’s Society of Master Saddlers’ AGM reported a hugely successful year for the organization with membership at an all-time high.

Said Chief Executive Hazel Morley: “Membership continues to increase and stands at 572, another record, and I am delighted to report that our revised Mentor Scheme, which helps our trainees move on through our fitting pathways towards qualification, is now up and running.

“On the subject of Welfare we have been pleased to work with The Horse Trust and Redwings who have helped us develop an online CPD module which gives training and advice on welfare issues, clarifying actions or decisions taken in the course of members’ professional duties.  Our veterinary consultant Dr Jane Nixon has also been very active in promoting and educating us and the wider equestrian community on the issues around Social Licence and we are very grateful for her ongoing support and advice.

“The new format of delivering theory lectures for our fitting courses via Webinar has proved very successful and will continue. This enables us to extend the practical tuition on both the bridle and saddle fitting Introductory courses to cover a full day with the qualification courses also formatted to cover more practical training.  A big thankyou to both the bridle fitting team, led by Frances Roche, and the saddle fitting team led by Andy Milner for all of their hard work in delivering the courses and assessments. 

“We have been able to start up our face to face one-day modules again.  We have run a leather carving course, a whip repairs day and an Introduction to Harness which was kindly hosted by Cribbs Carriage Masters.  This was well received by those who attended and a further harness day is planned for next year. 

“We were pleased to meet a number of members at BETA International and I would like to thank the Saddlers’ Company’s for their support and also to BETA International for providing us with the competition area.  We were pleased to welcome Suzie Fletcher to the judging team on the final day for the pre-made class which again helped us to show the skill and ingenuity of our members.

“The Worshipful Company of Saddlers has been very supportive of the SMS over the past twelve months with their usual annual grant, providing the National Saddlery & BETA competition prize money, as well as additional grants to help with various projects plus an annual donation to The Saddlery & Leathergoods Benevolent Fund which helps us to assist more of those in need.  Sincere thanks to the Company for their continued backing and support.

“I would like to conclude with some more thank yous and there are a number of them.  To Helen Reader for being a very supportive and active President; Bea Blakeman our treasurer for her guidance on all things financial; Mark Romain for his work and ongoing assistance with the Ofqual application, Lizzy Freeman our new Marketing and Partnerships co-ordinator for all of her work in increasing our public profile and engagement;  plus all of the other officers and the Executive committee for their support and the work they have put in on behalf of the Society and you our members over the past twelve months.

“And last but by no means least, Ian Hastilow has this year stood down from being the Saddle Fitting Course Co-ordinator and Kay Hastilow has retired from being course leader of the qualification course.  We are indebted to them both for their many many years of service to the Society developing, organising and lecturing on our courses.”

Added outgoing President, Helen Reader: “I set out last year with the intention of connecting with and supporting members and with this in mind introduced the monthly Chance to Chat zoom meetings. They have been well supported with a wide range of members attending, from trainees to retired and manufacturer members and everyone in between.

“The new website has been launched with a fresh look, a more streamlined member search and lots of information both for the public and members. Incorporated within this is the updated members area which includes information on upcoming events, CPD, business, health and financial support links and so much more.

“2022 has seen the first Qualified Bridle Fitting Course and Assessments take place. The message about the importance of using correctly fitted saddlery is certainly getting through to the majority of the equine world and there is now keenness to learn more and use qualified saddlery fitters.

“The more the Society can promote quality, well-fitting saddlery to improve horse welfare through education to other associated professionals and the wider public the more likely we will be able to keep riding and therefore safeguard our industry for future generations.”


Chris Taylor was appointed as the new President for 2022/2023 with Karen Schlotter stepping into the Vice President’s role.

To find out more information on The Society of Master Saddlers visit

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