Business is not always about boardrooms, briefings and black coffee. So, in tribute to these who take a more unusual approach to enterprise, Deputy Business Editor Steven Hugill examines the unconventional, alternative and downright difficult careers in the North-East. This week, what it's like to be a horse bit manufacturer

Neue Schule, based in Stokesley, North Yorkshire, plays a key role in keeping some of the UK's elite horse riders maintain their success.

Working with stars including Olympic team eventing silver-medalist Nicola Wilson, from Morton on Swale, near Northallerton, North Yorkshire, it makes and supplies mouth bits for horses that help riders control the animal.

Sarfraz Mian, Neue Schule chief executive, reveals more about what it does.

How did the company start? It was established by Heather Hyde, who recognised that selecting a bit that was ideal for a horse was often a challenging process for riders.

The company initially offered guidance and a bit bank service where riders could try a bit to be sure that it was appropriate for their horse.

From the experience gained over a number of years, it became apparent that the bits available on the market did not fully address rider’s requirements and also were not ideal from a horse welfare perspective.

How did you develop your products? The company tapped into material science expertise at Durham University and developed a unique metal designed specifically for horse mouth pieces.

This material, called Salox Gold, offers the highest thermal conductivity of any mouthpiece metal, and offers the benefit that it warms up very quickly in the horse’s mouth and gets to body temperature and is therefore no longer uncomfortable.

The thermal characteristics of Salox Gold combined with its softness and low bio-activity delivers relaxed acceptance and improved communication.

The designs of Neue Schule bits are also innovative, we are very focused on delivering designs that offer the best in comfort and fit to the horse and through this maximise on the performance that can be realised by the rider.

Have you had to adapt your products for different riders and disciplines?We now have a vast range of bits that we manufactures and supply.

There are bits that are suited to all riding disciplines, from relaxed hacking, cross-country, through to eventing, jumping and dressage.

Riders who are using Neue Schule bits are operating at all levels from pleasure riders right through to champion Olympic athletes, the key common denominator being that they are wanting the best for their horse and they are looking to maximize their riding performance.

We recently launched a range of bits designed for race horses, and these have been released to selected race horse trainers with remarkable results with horses transformed into race winners.

The Northern Echo: Nicola Wilson
Nicola Wilson

What was it like being associated with the London 2012 Olympics? The company’s products have had great success on the international stage, with riders from around the world wanting to benefit from the riding improvements its bits bring.

The equestrian events at the 2012 London Olympics were a great success for UK riders and we were delighted to have supported the teams.

What is the next step? There has been fantastic demand for Neue Schule products internationally and we have appointed distributors in a number of countries including the US, Australia and New Zealand.

We are in the process of appointing additional distributors in key countries where competitive riding takes place, and are constantly developing new products.

We are very focused on the engineering of our bits and the quality of the finish, which, in the past, has been described as being like jewellery.