FROM one of the most picturesque office settings in the region, with views over the Cleveland Hills, a global leader in equestrian hardware is developing ground-breaking products, including what they believe is a world first.

Stokesley-based Neue Schule’s latest innovations are part of a number of great successes that include a recent move into what was the flagship office of Yorkshire Forward.

Set up by equestrian expert Heather Hyde-Saddington in the 1990s, on the back of her existing horse bit rental business, the Neue Schule brand (translated literally as New School) was borne out of a desire to improve horse welfare.

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She would get regular feedback from her clients on their experience of different pieces of hardware, what problems they had and how it impacted on their horse’s behaviour.

Neue Schule chief executive Sarfraz Mian is building on that tradition.

“Heather had a vast experience of horsemanship and realised through these customers that the traditional bit was uncomfortable and jarring to a horse’s mouth, which didn’t help the rider get either the best control or optimum performance”, he said.

“As a result, she designed a revolutionary product, which has evolved into the range of high-quality horse bits we now produce.

“They totally change how the horse experiences contact through the bit.

“In essence, there are number of key differences to our product and more traditional ones.

“The mouthpiece of our bits is manufactured using a ‘soft’ metal alloy, which doesn’t not feel freezing cold in the mouth as it is made up of a material that has high thermal conductivity and so quickly becomes the same temperature as the horse’s own body, making it less of a shock.

“The softness of the metal has been developed so that it doesn’t damage the enamel of a horse’s teeth also it is an inert material, which means it is not leaking metal ions into the mouth either.

“As you can imagine, if you had metal clanking in your own mouth the sound would reverberate around your head so the soft metal also helps with acoustic dampening.

“The design of the piece inside the mouth has also been revolutionised.

“The shapes of the individual components have been carefully designed so that they present a smooth and comfortable form inside the horse’s mouth.

“Careful analysis of horse mouth anatomy and the forces that operate during riding has resulted in the creation of mouthpiece designs that are revolutionary and sit ergonomically in the horse’s mouth during riding.”

The company’s products have been so welcomed by the sector, its sales have been driven by recommendations and its client list reads like a who’s who of the equestrian world, including the UK and US Olympic equestrian teams.

Innovative engineer Mr Mian and Durham University senior lecturer Dr Graham Cross joined the business in 2009 following the development of their own biosensor company, part of the Farfield Group, which was one of first tenants on NetPark, in Sedgefield, County Durham.

The new products currently being brought to market build on the two men’s experience and harness this to Neue Schule’s existing range.

Mr Mian said: “Our bits are based on good science, not myths about what is best for a horse and for a rider to have good control.

“We have now created what we believe is the world’s first set of reins, being brought to the market by Neue Schule Group company, Avansce Ltd, with built-in sensors, which can record the forces that a rider applies through the reins under riding conditions, feeding that information into an app and uploading it to the cloud for subsequent analysis.

“The benefits of this innovation for equestrian performance will be huge as this type of data and instant analysis has never been available to equestrian sports.

“Sports performance measurement systems are more commonly associated with other sports like golf and cycling to help competitors improve their spinning technique, for example.

“Our product will show clearly to a rider how they are interacting with their horse through the reins under actual riding conditions.

“For elite equestrian sports, this will improve performance but this is also invaluable for all amateur riders.”

THE items are in production and will be available to buy in the next few months.

Neue Schule’s success story has been the result, in a major part, of a key decision to export in 2010.

Mr Mian always believed there was potential for overseas sales but wasn’t sure of the right route.

As a result he linked up with the Department for International Trade.

Through two programmes, Passport to Export and Going for Global Growth Programme, the company now has a global network, selling thousands of products around the world to customers in Africa, Canada, the US and New Zealand.

Mr Mian said: “We found the mix of practical advice in getting our products ready for market, with the right translations, trade missions and trade fairs really worked for us.

“Specialist trade fairs like SPOGA, in Cologne, Germany, is perfect as people can travel very easily from all over Europe to come and see us.

“These events also complement the British trade fairs we attend, including one for which we are main sponsor, the British Equestrian Trade Association Fair at the NEC in Birmingham.

“From a standing start, exporting now accounts for around 50 per cent our business, a figure we can only see growing and at a pretty substantial rate. The beauty for us of exporting is that our distributors are a very effective way of extending our reach.

“They operate like a sales team with valuable market intelligence and in so many different territories too. It would have been impossible for a company of our size to tackle these markets otherwise.”

Julie Underwood, North East England Chamber of Commerce (NEECC) international trade director, praised Neue Schule’s progress and held it up as a marker of how companies from the region can succeed.

She said: “Neue Schule is an absolutely brilliant example of a regional firm grasping the opportunity to expand their business with overseas trade.

“Through the support of their international trade adviser Maria Dotsch and Chamber relationship manager Tom Warnock, they have a strong customer base around the world BASE: Chief executive Mr Mian outside Neue Schule’s Momentum offices and with these new products, it is set to grow massively in the coming year.

“This is great news not just for them but the North-East as a whole as they are putting us on the world stage as well as themselves.

“We are delighted to have been able to support them on this expansion drive.”

AS exporting is a fundamental part of Neue Schule’s business forward planning. Mr Mian recently met with Lord Bridges, DExEU Minister, in what was part of a NEECC delegation led by Ms Underwood.

He was able to pose his questions about Brexit and trade negotiations to the minister.

The importance of horse welfare, which is the foundation of the business, has also resulted in diversification and the establishment of the Neue Schule Academy.

In addition to undertaking research into the operation of the bit, the academy has developed a series of training courses designed to educate riders and instructors into all aspects of bitting.

These courses are being delivered as part of equine studies degree courses and via online training with qualifications certified by awardingbody Lantra.

When the business moved into their new offices, called Momentum, opened by Princess Anne, a former Olympic showjumper, they also created the Neue Schule Group.

As a further diversification the group lets space in its building to Tanton Industries, a technical services company for the engineering sector and there is additional space available for rent to other companies.

Keen to promote a community spirit in the country, Neue Schule is supporting a bike ride in aid of the Jo Cox Foundation on 26 July. Around 400 cyclists are expected to help launch the ride, with 30 doing a five-day ride from Batley to the House of Commons.

Anyone wishing to support this or join in can find out more on Facebook at thejocoxway or on Twitter @thejocoxway.