Becky Hayden is Sales Manager at equestrian surface specialists, Equestrian Direct LTD.
Established over 30 years, Warwickshire-based, market leader Equestrian Direct is at the forefront of new and cost-effective horse-riding arenas and equestrian surfaces.
Having been with the company for 15 years, there isn’t much that Becky doesn’t know about building and maintaining equestrian arenas and gallops.
Do you come from a horsey background?
My parents aren’t horsey at all. When I was 6 years old, we moved to a very remote village in Devon where I started riding. I quickly fell in love with the sport and never looked back.
When did you start working in the Equine Industry?
Like most horse girls, was put to work at a young age, swapping yard chores for free rides, and generally spending as much time as I could at the stables.
At 16, I went to Duchy College in Cornwall to study Equine Management and afterwards, I started grooming for event riders, eventually working my way up to the International Event Circuit.
I was fortunate enough to work with some very talented, and very well-known 4* event riders, such as Mary King, Mark Todd and Andrew Nicholson, grooming for them at most of the 3* and 4* competitions all around the world. I even went to the 2000 Sydney Olympics, which was an incredible experience.
What is your favourite part of your job?
I really enjoy speaking to customers and helping them find the best solution for them. There are so many variables when it comes to building an arena, such as positioning, exposure, soil type and natural drainage – add to that required usage, so the type of discipline and how many times it is used on average in one day – then on top of that, taking into account the customer’s budget, and it can sometimes be bit of a challenge!
We are lucky that we have a range of flexible and high-quality products to choose from. We genuinely do have a product, or combination of products, for any eventuality.
What is a typical work day like for you?
Usually I am based at our Warwickshire office. We are very fortunate to be based in a beautiful location overlooking our small livery and competition yard.
As well as over 200 acres of land, we have two arenas, a lunge pen- and a number of XC jumps left over from when we used to run horse trials on site. We do offer a ‘try before you buy’ service where prospective customers are welcome to visit the yard and try the surfaces for themselves. Our top arena is 60m x 35m and has been down over 20 years. The second arena followed ten years later.
It is lovely to be able to look out of the window and watch the horses grazing in the field or working in the schools. Up until a few weeks ago, we had our advanced EQD event horses, Direct Tullyoran Cruise (aka Tully) and Direct Cassino (aka Ice) home for their winter break. They have now both gone back to Izzy’s yard to start their fitness work for the coming season, and the fields are now full of our cute, but mischievous two and three-year-olds.
We are also just 10 minutes away from Solihull Riding Club, which uses our TurfFloat and Flexiride surfaces on its indoor and outdoor schools. The arenas are in use most days for competitions, clinics and lessons. The very high traffic use at SRC is a real test of the products resilience, with only very basic maintenance needed. The TurfFloat indoor surface was laid in 2004and only recently had a small top-up in 2018
If I’m not in the office, I am either on our event stand – we usually attend Badminton, and this year we are also planning to go to Burghley and Blenheim – or out and about visiting our sponsored riders.
We are fortunate to work with top eventers, such as Izzy Taylor and Ben Way.
What are the top products that you could not live without?
Our Bestselling product Flexiride has now been on the market for over 10 years and is suitable for everyone, from a one-horse owner to Top International riders.
Flexiride is a complete surface solution which can be laid directly only a simple stone drainage layer. Meaning no membrane, drainage or sand is needed, potentially saving thousands in materials and labour costs.
On existing surfaces, Flexiride can be used as a top-up, dramatically improving performance.
Flexiride doesn’t freeze, puddle, rot or blow away, and can be added on top of most types of existing surface. It is virtually maintenance free, and has exceptional cushioning properties, making it ideal for most equestrian disciplines.
Recommended by leading riders and customers, anyone who is thinking about a new surface or who is interested in topping-up an existing surface, should take a look at our many glowing Facebook reviews.
What are your ambitions?
We are always looking to grow the company from year to year and introduce new products into the market for the benefit of both existing and new customers, as well as finding new ways to communicate with our target audience.
Our Facebook page has grown exponentially over the last year or so. As well as product information and advice, and content from our sponsored riders, we also hold regular competitions for our fans. From saddle cloths and arena markers to once-in-a-life-time experiences, such as lessons with our sponsored riders.
Equestrian Direct offers a range of surfaces to suit all types of usage and budgets.