Island Life Magazine Ltd February/March 2007 - Page 59

EQUESTRIAN - life On first-name terms with customers - and their horses! Ordering on the Internet might be convenient and sometimes save money – but when it comes to buying horse tack this way, it can often prove to be a false economy. Mandy Steen, co-owner with Soo Richardson (Mother) of Froghill Tack at Sandford, points out that because of the varying sizing guidelines used by different manufacturers, it’s not usually a good idea to order items such as horse rugs at a distance. “Ideally, they should always be fitted personally” says Mandy, which is why Froghill Tack has a policy of allowing customers to take items away to try on their horse and ensure a perfect fit. And if any item doesn’t fit, it can always be returned for a no-quibble exchange, of course providing they are in the same condition as when they were purchased. Personal service has always been the watchword at this business, which was founded 26 years ago by Mandy and her mother Soo Richardson. “We know not just our customers – but also many of their horses – personally,” says Mandy, who runs the business with her horseloving full-time sales assistant Jayne Coombes, and occasional help from mum Soo. Over the years, the business has grown to become the Island’s largest equestrian supplier, offering the complete range of needs for horse and rider – from saddles, rugs and horse boots to show jackets, boots and helmets for the rider. There’s also a complete range of feeds and supplements to keep horses in tiptop condition. Regular customers of the store include everyone from the first- time young pony owner right up to competition and show riders. But despite its name, Froghill Tack is far from being just a shop for the horsey set. Also on the staff is Mandy’s sister-in-law Frances Richardson, who oversees the busy clothing side of the business. Frances many not be an equestrian type, but she’s a great “people person” who loves running Froghill’s country clothing and skiwear department. This is the department that proves the point that you don’t have to be a horse-rider to shop there. In fact, the store attracts all kinds of people who are passionate about the great outdoors – from dog walkers and ramblers to skiiers and hunting and shooting enthusiasts. Browsing among the shop’s shelves and rails is a much more enjoyable prospect than ordering from online catalogues – not least because of the dedicated team of horse-lovers and outdoor types always on hand to offer expert advice. This even extends to going out to fit saddles for customers’ horses. “All our staff can speak from experience, which means we can give a much higher level of service than an impersonal website” says Mandy. “We actively encourage people to take items home and try them because ultimately what we want is a satisfied customer”. Picture: Jayne Coombes Contact Froghill on 01983 840205 Sponsored by Froghill and Brickfields 59