Tuesday’s varied timetable of activities included a chance to visit Black Country Saddles in Cannock. This company has become synonymous with innovation and quality throughout the equestrian world and Master Saddlers Rob Cullen and John Hartley have more than 80 years of combined industry experience.

This trip was organised by Reaseheath Industry Mentor Bill Perratt from Saddle Tech. Bill is a Master Saddler who specialises in fitting well-designed saddles for the comfort and biomechanical efficiency of horse and rider.

During their visit, students were given the unique opportunity to observe a Master Saddler at work. The many procedures involved in saddle making were explained from the choice of tree, the selection of leather and cutting patterns, through to the production of the finished product. Students were also shown a selection of custom-made saddles and given a tour of the administrative and distribution departments.

Bill, who makes regular visits to Reaseheath to offer advice about saddle fitting, said: “I think it’s important that all riders have an insight into one of the most important pieces of equipment we use and I’m sure that the explanation of saddle tree shapes and the high-quality products made at Black Country Saddles will have developed a further understanding.”

Emma recently completed the CIC* Young Horse Championships at Osberton Horse Trials with her horse Mantra. The duo finished in a respectable 15th place among a top-class field of competitors who included Olympian William Fox-Pitt and Izzy Taylor who is ranked 3rd in British Eventing’s rider rankings for 2016.

Tuesday’s schedule also offered a ‘behind the scenes’ tour at the yard of another of our Industry Mentors – event rider Tyler Cassells.

Tyler’s wide-ranging knowledge of the equestrian industry is of huge benefit to our students and those visiting his new yard at Somerford Park Farm were able to gain first-hand experience of how a top-class event yard operates.

During a their visit, students met one of Tyler’s apprentices Emma Lawton who joined his team earlier this year on the Level 2 Reaseheath Apprenticeship Programme.

Sports massage therapist Kerry Jones from Equine-Canine Sport Massage, demonstrated the techniques she uses to help Tyler’s horses stay in peak condition, while Kate Hardt from Northumbria Equine UK gave students a side saddle demonstration and invited questions about her work.

Tyler said: “As a former Reaseheath student myself, I believe that industry-based visits such as this are essential. I see my role as being someone outside of the college environment that can be approached for advice. This is a tough industry, but there are many possibilities on offer and I try to make students aware of their options.”