Helen Reader Appointed President of Society of Master Saddlers
10th October 2021
QEST Leathersellers’ Company Scholar Helen Reader of HR Saddlery was appointed President of the Society of Master Saddlers (SMS) at the Society’s AGM in September.
Helen joined the SMS Executive Committee in 2016 and combines her work for the Society with running and developing her business and also finds time for a wide variety of activities. In addition to teaching at local Pony Club rallies Helen provides lecture/demos for local Pony Clubs, Riding Clubs, and British Horse Society Branches. Helen owns two competition horses and together they compete in Dressage, Show Jumping and Eventing both locally at national level.
In 2015 Helen gained a scholarship from QEST to further her knowledge in side saddle manufacture and restoration, therefore helping to preserve this dying knowledge for future generations.
Helen’s saddlery career started at Cordwainers College in Hackney, London where she qualified as a Saddler followed by a three year apprenticeship with Pointings Saddlery in Bath combined with training at the Saddlery Training Centre in Salisbury. Following her training Helen returned to her family smallholding and with the aid of Princes Trust funding support she started HR Saddlery. Shortly after setting up the business she became the youngest Master Saddler in the country. In 2018 Helen was the only SMS member to hold the titles of Master Saddler, Master Bridle Maker, Master Harness Maker and Master Saddle Fitter.
Helen’s interest in the saddlery craft was sparked as a five year old when her pony’s saddle required re-seating. A trip to her local Master Saddler who took the time to let her help select the leather hide for the repair and talk her through the process and she was hooked. Some ten years later she returned to the same saddler’s workshop for a week of work experience that secured her wish to follow in the trade.
Following her appointment as SMS President Helen commented, “it is an honour to be President of the SMS. With things now slowly returning to some normality I’m really looking forward to the year ahead. With the opportunity to promote the high standards and quality of our members work. Along with working with other equestrian member bodies to promote correct saddlery fitting to improve horse welfare.”
Photo credit: SLR Photography