When my beautiful daughter Matilda was born I couldn’t wait to get her in the saddle but the worry of her safety was never far from my mind
The first time Matilda sat on a pony was at 3 months old, as time went on and she was able to sit up by herself I always worried about her safety as I really struggled to hold her safely whilst on a pony.
I would hold her clothes or her thigh and she would moan at me that I was holding on too tight.
I searched the internet for something to help me but there just wasn’t anything suitable. I had found a gap in the market. I had a conversation with a friend and she thought my idea was great and I should pursue it.
So I had this great Idea but where do I start? I found a company who promised to help and support new businesses. After many weeks of them calling me and sending unnecessary letters they eventually asked for £4K to send me a report and DVD on my next steps!! I immediately binned them and started googling every question I had and started to make progress.
My next obstacle was to find a manufacturer who would actually help me produce a prototype without asking for a ridiculous amount of money. My search for such company was fruitless. I eventually gave up and shoved everything in a draw and forgot about it.
My friend kept on at me saying I was silly to leave it, if I didn’t produce it someone else would. After many months I decided to start up again and try and find some help. Again my search was useless, so I decided to make my own prototype.
I have always enjoyed making curtains and cushions, how hard was it to use a commercial sewing machine and make a harness? How foolish was I? These machines are ferocious!! I hired a commercial sewing machine and told the man I had never used one before, he looked at me like I was mad!! He set the machine to the slowest setting, which I can assure you is still 100mph in my book!!! This machine would of sewn my arm to the table if I got it wrong!
So I now have a rough prototype, I still needed to find a manufacturer. I sent so many emails out without any response, but one day I got a call from a Leading British Independent Safety Harness Company, they had seen my email and were interested in helping me.
We arranged a meeting and they happily agreed to make a high quality prototype. I was over the moon, finally things were starting to move forward. When the prototype arrived we popped it on Matilda and it was perfect. My husband carried Matilda in the harness up the stairs to bed, to this day Matilda remembers this happening and we often talk and laugh about it. I knew I had a product that was high quality and would do a great job in keeping riders safer in the saddle.
I ordered some stock of my new product and to this day it is a great seller, it helps many riding schools, pony parties and parents. It has also now gone on to help many disabled riders, this is something I never dreamed would happen, and seeing these children laugh and smile and enjoy riding has made all the hard work and heartache worthwhile.
Since Equihandee was launched we have had many enquiries for something to support children with more complex disabilities, this is something we are currently working on and hope to launch these new products soon.