Well, first of all, neither of us had been before. It’s really great and well worth the visit if you can get tickets. Thankfully for us you couldn’t buy there and then unless a retailer, which I think saved our credit cards experiencing a major bashing!
General impressions: Lots of lovely stuff. Lots of bling. Quite a bit of animal print. Bling and animal print, coming soon to a tack shop (and then probably to an Event) near you. Brace yourselves, you have been warned. Are we placing bets on who will be the first to be brave enough to have leopard print as their XC colours or even a military print saddle?!
There were some great products, some “why on earth didn’t anyone think of that before?!” products, and a couple of ‘have you ever actually had anything to do with a horse?” products. 😉 😉
There were a few things we coveted enormously for our horses (the new Fairfax saddles, ooooooh), for ourselves (de Niro boots, omg swoon-worthily gorgeous, and the Hiho jewellery, whose leather-and-silver new design prototypes nearly induced a fit of kleptomania in me) and for our yards: things which will make the day-to-day chores much easier – Fynalite’s new trolley for tubtrugs, and Bruno Gelle’s hugely improved poo-skip design – stronger, longer handle with cuff to stabilise against forearm so the wrist doesn’t take all the strain – I cannot wait to get my mitts on one of these.
In a bit more detail our favourite product of the event was the Fairfax saddle, just like their girths they have spent significant time designing and testing the saddle so as to provide the best fit possible. Some of the innovative aspects include sloping points to give maximum freedom to the shoulder, and the knee rolls have adjustable blocks to allow asymmetrical shoulders of the horse to be taken into account. During testing different saddle and girth combinations were tested and the neatness of the front legs shown had some fairly spectacular results with double digit improvements in the angle of the leg from when the horse was jumped with its existing saddle and girth and then with the Fairfax saddle and girth.
We were also incredibly surprised at the extremely reasonable price point of only £1600. We will get more details re the testing and results for you from Fairfax themselves to ensure we are doing it justice.
In terms of safety there were a variety of products on display including air jackets and body protectors. The stand-out product was the new Charles Owen 4 Star hat. The hat was originally due to be publicly launched at Badminton 2012 which was unfortunately cancelled, so its release has gone rather unheralded, but it is available to buy now. This hat is the first to pass all 4 of the main hat testing standards, PAS015:2011, BSEN1384, SNELL E2001and ASTM F1163 and retails at approximately £130.
Back to saddles and we look at a saddle which is being designed specifically with Rio 2016 in mind, the WisAir (pronounced WiseAir, from Wise Equestrian). The saddle has air vents at the front and sides and also an oval hole along the centre of the seat. In addition to the airflow aspects it is also incredibly light and the video showed a horse cantered continuously for 7 minutes in Florida heat, and when the saddle was removed it did not leave a single sweat mark.
Ecogold are seeing their brand awareness grow here in the UK. Their range of nonslip saddle pads and numnahs, and boots, is growing hugely in popularity and getting a chance to look at their products you can see why. The memory foam half pads have a fantastic shape and feel whilst the brand new saddle pad with built in memory foam pad was a personal favourite. The foam layers are removable and adjustable to enable you to choose your preferred thickness dependent on your horse’s requirements. The breathable nature of the modern materials will also keep the horse’s back far cooler. The benefits of memory foam are also of major note and best illustrated by a video made by Ecogold which you can view here. Some M&Ms were placed beneath memory foam and then hit with a hammer. The M&Ms remained intact as the memory foam absorbed the impact.
New gloves on the market were the Bionic range, which succeeded in the Dragon’s Den last autumn. The gloves contain structured support for the hand and are apparently very hard wearing. There are three main types in the range: a thicker more durable glove, a show glove and a light version. My personal favourite was the light version which literally felt like a second skin. I’m looking forward to getting my hands on (or should I say in!) a pair when they are released as I live in gloves at the yard and they were incredibly comfortable. The Bionic gloves will retail between approximately £30 and £40.
Tuffa have produced a new competition/work boot which caught our eye called the ‘Derby’. It retains a more workmanlike tread to ensure durability for everyday use but has a lovely slim fitted shape which means it remains smart enough for competition wear. The side zip and elasticated panels on the inside of the leg give a great fit and they are available in three width fittings, ensuring that whatever your shape you should find a pair that fits perfectly, due to the adjustability from the elasticated panels.
Horsehealth had a number of new and exciting products but sadly we can’t show them all. Look out though for some new and revamped saddle pads coming soon. They were also launching at BETA some new lightweight exercise wraps which we can picture.
Fynalite had some great practical products on display. If you are like me anything that makes mucking out easier and quicker is a godsend. The Tubtrug trolley is definitely one of the “why don’t I already have one” products. The new wood pellets fork looked very interesting and most definitely worth a look if you are struggling with your current fork.
Horsewear’s IceVibe boots are possibly one of the most innovative inventions in regard to leg cooling. The design ensures that although cooling the legs, blood flow is maintained by small vibrations of the boots. The blood flow is essential to the quick repair and recovery of the legs and this is often decreased by the fast cooling of the legs with ice etc. Essentially these boots are the best of both worlds by cooling the legs and maintaining the bloodflow, so providing the ideal recovery conditions. The boots are now available in leg hock and knee boot variants.
Other items that caught our eye include a new innovative laser system used to provide an accurate 3D representation of a horse’s back which can be transmitted to your saddler to be utilised to create a perfect saddle fit (subject of course to the horse changing shape!). This has obvious benefits for made to measure saddles and to saddle fitters as the exact dimensions can be recreated in their workshops using a hydraulic model as per the photo.
We are still going back over our notes and so will add to the above overview over the next few days. If you have any questions please do ask, and if we don’t know the answers we will ask the manufacturers for you.