CHN BUSINESS PERSON IN THE SPOTLIGHT This issue CHN catch up with CH Brown & Son, Oxford


We have two daughters, Tammie, born in 1977 and Kate in 1980. Ponies became part of their lives with

‘Polly’, a 7 year old Welsh section A in 1983. Pretty as a picture, totally 100% with Kate brushing and picking out her feet and indeed a great lead rein pony. Tammie, more ambitious showed grit


My early days with ponies was at local riding schools when my parents could afford it (I chose this over ballet lessons!). Mike’s sisters owned ponies and his involvement seemed to be mending their tack as he had a natural inbuilt ability to make and mend. Coming from a family of engineers, craftwork was second nature. Eventually Iownedmy own horse, when I could afford to. Mike and Imet through a mutual friend. Iwas in the retail trade and Mike working in his family garage business with cars, workshop, sales and doing bodywork. He still maintains that he was a petrol pump attendant! When his father needed to retire, we had a tip off just at the right moment that C.H. Brown&Son in the centre of the City of Oxford was coming up for sale. Established in the 1890’s when 5 saddlers existed in the city; by the middle of the 1900’s, Browns were the only saddlers left and that side of the business had almost come to an end. When we took over in 1973, we had a lot

of work to do in order to re- establish the saddlery side of the shop. The rest is history; we regained a strong equine theme whilst having quality leather and Travel goods to sell as well. The ability to change andmove on was and still is absolutely essential. Mike created a small workshop in the attic above the shop and spent many days in Walsall with various manufacturers who were willing put up with him, showing him processes and taught him the finer skills. In the early 90’s the demand for saddles to

be supplied and fitted correctly was obvious but relatively steady in those days. We became members of the Society of Master Saddlers (SMS) at the beginning of the 1980’s and have come a long way since then. The qualification in saddle fitting and the learning courses began in 1995 and gained City and Guilds level 3 status 10 years ago, and is now in the process of being updated. Mike and I both gained our Saddle Fitting qualification in the first 2 courses; as we could not leave the business unattended together. I have since then become an assessor and lecturer for the SMS. Mike became its President in 2008 and Iamnowthe current President.


and determination! Often a clear round was followed by a jump off. Looking like a winner until the last fence, ‘Polly’ could duck a shoulder and say not this time! Tammie competed another pony to zone finals of the Prince Phillip cup games and moved on to the star that was 13.2 ‘Tuppence”. Pony Club days were long and fun, both girls over the years trying most disciplines successfully. Tetrathlon was a good grounding socially as well as athletically. Kate eventually decided the show jumping was for her and Tammie until recently has enjoyed competing in Dressage. Her horse Ballymax, much loved, has given his name to the Ballymax girth, designed by Mike and made by the Ideal saddle company. He has been her horse of a life time but sadly no longer with us. However grandson Ben, 21 months old is taking up much of her time at the moment. Tammie married last year and Kate on the 19th May, our own royal wedding! The girls stepped into the working world,

Tammie after gaining a degree and Kate became an apprentice in the hotel industry. Both have now come full circle and into the family business. Tammie took over the running of the retail and Kate became apprenticed to Mike both in saddlery skills and saddle fitting. The saddlery training centre in Salisbury and with an apprentice allowance from The Worshipful Company of Saddlers, Kate attended for 6 x weeks each year and 3 years later she qualified with City and Guilds certificates both with saddle, and bridle making and also with the Saddle fitting qualification. 14 years on, Kate is herself a

Master Saddler and has successfully trained another apprentice.

Far Left: Mike (standing) Tammie (accounts), Kate (sitting) and Sue (standing), In front is 'Maddy" the springer.

Right: Kate working at the bench.


Sadly our 99-year lease was up in the City centre but probably the timing could not be more perfect for us. High Street retail is struggling generally and overheads with a newlease were only going to rise. We closed the door for good in

September last year, with no regrets and many happy memories.

Right: Part of stock/ Showroom

Ab B k f

Above: Brocken front arch plate on saddle tree. The picture of the broken saddle tree illustrates a commonfault especially in dressage saddles that can be very expensive to repair If the damage is not detected early. If you are buying a used saddle, make sure that your investment is froma reputable saddle seller.

Bottom: Sue checking stock.

Saddledoctors UK is now our registered brand. We have agood sizeworkshop specializing in saddles. Kate and myself have a


van each (hers is bigger!) Saddle fitting is our daily life whether servicing or fitting new. Tammie runs the office but is also apprenticing on the road. Mike, semi retired, is very importantly fleet manager but also helps in the workshop when Kate is alittle overrun. He has been known to diversify to rocking horses but his hobby is flying which he says adds distance and tranquility from every day life and something different to concentrate on. We love our work, no two days are the



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same and meeting the horses and people, helping them get the best from each other, we can truly say we never stop learning, but the skill is in the years of knowledge and applying it in each newday. It is sad at present that the internet and foreign products, some of which of poor quality invades our lives and we see so much money spent and wasted where investing in quality and fit will save in the long run and be good for your four legged friend.

For the latest

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