In The Spotlight: Catherine Mills, Founder and Head of Quintessentially's Equestrian Service
Catherine Mills: I set it up in January 2015, since when I've seen a significant growth, especially throughout the course of this year so far, (2017) with a sizeable number of our Members increasingly interested in attending equestrian events.
Can you pick out any highlights of 2017 so far?
CM: There have been many. Firstly, it has to be personally taking part in the Champions Willberry Charity Race at Cheltenham, with the support of a lot of Quintessentially Members on the day. Subsequently, we've seen a marked spurt in Member interest in horse racing, and have since launched our first Quintessentially racing syndicate with trainer Jamie Osborne.
What type of requests do you assist with?
CM: We find that requests are extremely varied. So far, we have assisted with everything from sourcing a child's jumping pony, which was sold to Saudi Arabia; polo lessons; locating equipment, such as children's air jackets; transportation of horses; 'Meet and Greets' with top riders and so on.
There is also a strong emphasis on our events. As an example, we have taken tables/private areas at many of the big equestrian shows and then offered our Members a unique experience. Royal Ascot was a resounding success as we hosted a group of 16 Elite Members in a box and offered them all a special tour of the Royal Ascot racing club, including personal 'Meet and Greets with jockeys and trainers. It was a memorably good day for everyone involved.
Are all of your Equestrian Members professional riders?
CM: Not at all. We do look after some pro riders but they tend to use us more for travel, restaurants, day-to-day bookings, etc. We then have absolute beginners who love attending the events in order to network, so they may lean towards the social side rather than anything purely equestrian. We also have many Members who are horse owners themselves, some of whom have started eventing in the BE 80 training classes. In fact, I have even organised a few training clinics and weekends away for them with their horses.
What events do you have coming up?
CM: It's a really exciting time for Equestrian events, even though the summer's over! We have a table at the Highclere Yearling Parades, which is always a wonderful event. We then have an equestrian jewellery event in November with Sylvia Kerr, a private box at Olympia and a big equestrian networking dinner at Daphne's in January. I am particularly looking forward to the latter as it will host the launch of a really luxurious equestrian product by Renwick & Sons.
Have there been any unusual requests so far?
CM: There hasn't been anything too weird, but we did organise for a number of small ponies to come to a child's party in central London. The strange thing here was that the only access to the garden was through the house, so we had to take all the little ponies through the front door!
What kind of brands and suppliers do you work with?
CM: We work with a good number, mainly because I feel it's important to fit the right supplier with the individual's needs. To illustrate this, I will recommend certain riding schools or trainers to suit the client's specific requirements. I work closely with Sillett Equestrian, a show jumping training yard near Reading that is brilliant with international young riders who are looking to spend a few months in the UK.
I compete myself and I own three horses, so I have a pretty good understanding of the brands I like and can offer authentic, personal recommendations. I ride in Devoucoux saddles and they thankfully offer great benefits to our Members.
What will be the focus for 2018?
CM: Continuing to grow the service and ensuring that even more of our Members are aware of what we offer. I would also like to start launching syndicates across all areas. It would be great to have more racing syndicates but also to support some of our up-and-coming talent in eventing, dressage and show jumping. I personally feel that shared ownership is such a fun and a sociable way of introducing new owners to the sport. A few weeks ago, I took a few Members to watch the young eventer Holly Woodhead compete at Blenheim Palace Horse Trials. The horse was aptly named Parkfield Quintessential!
For further information on Q Equestrian please contact Catherine Mills on firstname.lastname@example.org. Interested in becoming a member? Request more information