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Exciting developments for Society of Master Saddlers

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This year’s Society of Master Saddlers’ AGM took place at The Black Country Living Museum and was very well attended with members travelling from all parts of the country.

The day started with AGM matters including reports from Officers and the Chief Executive, Hazel Morley who described a very busy 12 months full of variety and challenges that had seen the society in a very healthy position.

Chris Taylor with Sue Norton

Hazel said, “It has been a very busy and successful year for the society with a number of new developments and an increase in membership.

“The total membership now stands at 498 with 362 UK and 136 overseas. The category which has seen the largest increase is that of Trainee Saddle Fitter with 21 people joining the Mentor scheme in the last 12 months with 21 new applications also in the Craft categories.

“As part of the membership the CPD programme is being actively encouraged, as is the gaining of our flocking qualification by both Qualified Saddlers and Qualified Saddle Fitters.

“In the last year we have put together a comprehensive programme of courses which includes modules suitable for both craft and saddle fitter members.  These range from competition winning tips, tool sharpening, sewing machine maintenance, whip repairs and a new harness fitting day to saddle fitting discussion days talking about appropriate adjustments, trees for breeds and a business seminar.

“Our Bridle Fitting course always proves popular and thanks must go to Frances Roche for all her many hours of work.  A new life-size horse’s head which we have designed is going to be an invaluable teaching aid for the practical side of the course.

Horse’s head to be used on bridle fitting courses

“The creation of a Bridle Fitting Qualification is part of the work being undertaken by the SMS within the review of our City & Guilds Saddle Fitting Qualification which is currently taking place.

“On the saddle fitting side we have held the two Introductory Courses and the Qualification Course. The new online pre-course training and guidance on Moodle has been very well received and sections are currently being developed for both trainees to access early in their training journey and for current Qualified Saddle Fitters to keep up-to-date.

“We have a good presence on the Saddle Fitting Steering Group which is being chaired by the Worshipful Company of Saddlers and either myself or other officers of the Society have represented the SMS at many events over the past 12 months.

“The Society is supporting the Saddlers’ Company’s work in Walsall in the development of apprenticeship training facilities and there is more engagement with the trade with the introduction of meetings and gatherings to which trade members are invited.

(L-R) Chris Taylor and Ted Boggis

“A new development at the National Competition at Saddlers’ Hall saw guests invited to a day time viewing which proved very popular and this enabled us to show a wider audience the amazing talents of our craft members and to bring the Society to the fore in the minds of those who have influence on the general riding public.

“The hard work of the board of directors, the Executive Committee, the five sub-committees and Management Group is very much appreciated and it has also been great to have the support from Sue Norton as president over the last 12 months.”

The AGM saw the appointment of Chris Taylor as new President of the SMS with Ted Boggis stepping into the Vice President’s role.

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