An equestrian shop where you get advice, a biscuit and a brew – sounds perfect! That’s the sort of service you receive when you shop at Lofthouse Equestrian. I am delighted to feature a guest blog from owner, Sam, who tells us more about why she set up her business, her plans for the future and what’s next for her horses – the ‘troublesome trio’!
When did you set up Lofthouse Equestrian?
My husband and I started Lofthouse Equestrian, online initially, in January 2015. It was a steep learning curve as neither of us have a ‘tech’ background so setting up and designing a website came with some difficulties. It’s had quite few re-vamps over the years but we have finally settled on a style we like!
Why did you decide to open a boutique?
I’m really passionate about customer service, but it’s quite difficult to achieve the level I want when you’re just online. You can’t get to know your customers as easily. I felt the boutique would open this door for me and step things up to the next level. I also felt there was a local demand for a small shop in the North West to provide that ‘something different’. I became increasingly frustrated with the lack of quality, affordable yet ‘different’ items out there.
When did you open?
We opened the boutique in June this year with a Prosecco opening evening! I have to say it went down well! I found the little shop in November 2016 and after some negotiations collected the keys on Friday 13th January 2017, the day before our wedding! Everybody thought I was bonkers but I couldn’t wait to get the keys! Our wedding marked a massive change in our lives. It actually took us 6 months to renovate as it had been a florist for 15 years! It had no central heating, non-slip floors and required a kitchen ripping out to make way for a changing room! Thankfully I know some very handy people who only required food and alcohol for their labour!
What is your main ambition for the business?
I want to do so many things! I think my main one is to become a real social hub for people. I pride myself on customer service and would like to think, no matter what the issue, I can help in some way (the curse of being a veterinary nurse). I’d like to be the place that people know they can come for help, advice, a biscuit and a brew! I really believe it’s the little things that set us apart from others.
How do you plan on growing the business?
I think with regards to the boutique we will always remain fairly small. I’d like to get upstairs open early next year but I really want it to keep that ’boutique-like’ feel and remain personal. I would like to expand our events side both at agricultural and horse shows. Plus I’d like to hold more of our own events too (I have quite a list of ideas)! We are slowly expanding and soon I hope to be able to provide additional services such as hat and boot fittings. My husband has to remind me to take baby steps! I’m learning… slowly!
Tell us more about your own horses
Ah! The troublesome trio! Well those that read my blogs will probably feel like they know them quite well by now! I have two Dutch Warmbloods (Erik & Crunchie) and an Irish Draught x Thoroughbred (Mea). They are all completely different with their own quirks but it’s great that I get to ride such a variety! I mainly compete at affiliated dressage but we’ve had a couple of years away from competitions due to health reasons- no not mine! Mea is semi-retired now and Crunchie is quite quirky and needed some time to mature in a field before we pursued his career any further! Erik has recently recovered from a fractured pelvis after a nasty fall on concrete (thankfully no-one was riding him at the time). So after a lot of physio, vets bills and a lot of team work, they are all now fully fit and we are cracking on with training!
What are your plans with your horses this year?
As the summer is now drawing to a close, I am focusing on training over the winter, getting them (and myself) fit and then to hopefully begin collecting our points for the Summer Regionals from December. I’d also quite like to take them on some fun rides like Somerford Park’s Farm ride or Crow Wood’s gallops as I think it’s really important to take the pressure off them and enjoy the ride. After all that’s what it’s all about! Enjoying it!
How do you juggle your business and your hobby?
I’m not going to lie, it’s difficult! Since we opened I’ve had to get into a totally new routine, which sadly means earlier mornings! I get to the yard first thing, get two of them ridden and all mucked out, then it’s back home and to the shop. Thankfully my sister can finish them off at night and do them at the weekend. I’ve actually got a bit more time at home in the evenings now….not sure if my husband is happy about that or not!!
To find out more about Lofthouse Equestrian, and to read Sam’s blog visit