History of Martin Wilkinson Saddlers
Martins' interest in horses started at an early age when he
first pony, Ginger, at 12 years old.
Ginger was a 13.2hh all-round pony and Martin
, like most kids his
age spent all the time he
had with his
pony. 'In those days', said Martin
'we did not stable ponies so Ginger lived out all year round in my uncles' field.
I hunted regularly with the Aldenham Harriers and the Hertfordshire, went to pony club and competed and also discovered that a pony was a greater attraction to girls than a car!
The photo shows Martin
receiving the Hendon Times Group Challenge Trophy for showjumping with his
next pony, a 14.2hh called Marlins Pacemaker so for all those who have wondered if Martin
can ride, here is the proof!
With such a passionate interest in horses, on leaving school Martin
had the choice of becoming a jockey or a saddler and fortunately for us he
decided on the latter.
apprenticeship firstly at Cordwainers Technical College
in Hackney, then at Gibsons in Newmarket and finally with David Boot, a bespoke saddler in the East End of London where he
worked on a great range of saddlery and harness, including the patent leather fittings for carriages in the Royal Mews.
decided to start his
own business in 1972 working on his
own from his
mothers' garage, then moved to his
first retail premises in Redbourn High Street in 1973. 'I made all the stock for my shop myself so all the saddles, bridles, martingales, leathers were hand made but I couldn't keep up with demand so had to start buying in stock, which is what we do today'.
's business grew and soon he
was expanding into making all the leather work and boots for Magneto-pulse and his
own range of Martin Wilkinson horse boots, designed by Martin.
"Unfortunately we could not compete with the ever increasing competition from abroad and so eventually concentrated on the saddle fitting and general retail side of the business".
was one of the first group of Master Saddlers to achieve the saddle fitting qualification offered by the Society of Master Saddlers
, a qualification which is now recognised world-wide.
Martin went on to become a Master Saddler himself, an assessor for the SMS saddle fitting qualification and is now a member of the Executive Committee of the Society of Master Saddlers.
Copyright 2006 Martin Wilkinson Master Saddlers