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Award-winning horse riding safety idea

PUBLISHED: 14:00 04 April 2010 | UPDATED: 15:50 07 July 2010

Kathryn Cross

As an ex-police officer Andy Keats knows the importance of identifying a person involved in an accident, to alert next of kin and to save them the trauma of not knowing what has happened to their injured loved one.

As an ex-police officer Andy Keats knows the importance of identifying a person involved in an accident, to alert next of kin and to save them the trauma of not knowing what has happened to their injured loved one.

So when he met Adrian Soskin, a well-known figure in the riding world, at a business meeting at the end of last year he soon realised that there was a gap in the market for a product which could get an injured rider or horse's details straight to the right people as quickly as possible.

Mr Keats, who ran the Keepsafe business from Dereham before setting up Alert ID two years ago, launched Ride-Alert in February with Mr Soskin and the product has already been recognised by the equine industry at the highest level, winning the Innovation Award in the safety and security category at the British Equestrian Trade Association International trade fair.

Ride-Alert provides personal identification products for horse and rider either by wristband or saddle tag with a unique code and a telephone number to provide a direct link to a dedicated incident response centre 24 hours a day. Anyone finding an injured rider or horse can ring the team who can then contact next of kin and relay vital medical and allergy information to relevant authorities.

Chairman of BETA and the Riding for the Disabled Jane Holderness Roddam and vet and published academic Professor Derek Knottenbelt described it as an “impressive device that fills an obvious gap in rider safety. It is a credible system with cutting-edge technology and the back-up behind it to make sure it keeps going”.

The product is also being endorsed by five of the top equestrians in the country, eventer Mary King, showjumper Tim Stockdale, showing producer Lynn Russell, dressage rider Maria Eilberg and international para carriage driver Lindsey Tyas.

Mr Keats, who runs the business with four full time employees from his home in East Tuddenham, said he was confident the product was going to be a success.

“After I met Adrian at Christmas we decided to go ahead with the product on January 5 and worked on it for about six weeks,” he said. “Then I entered it for the awards and we won. I told my team we were going to win it because there is nothing else like this in the riding market even though we were up against 78 other companies.

“I went to see the Air Ambulance recently because we want to give 10 percent of our profits to charity and they told us there were 38 riding accidents a week in the UK that they attended. But that is less than one percent of all accidents requiring an ambulance so there must be around 4000 riding accidents a week.

“As an ex-police officer I know that nine times out of 10 you don't know who the person is who has been injured. Often the person is not able to give the right phone numbers to call or even say who they are. They could be whisked off to hospital and as far as their relatives are concerned they have gone out for a ride and disappeared into thin air. People are then left scouring the countryside while their loved one is at Papworth Hospital or wherever they have been taken. We don't expect every second horse or rider to be lost or found but it is reassurance in case something did go wrong.”

For more information visit www.ride-alert.co.uk.


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