Helen Ross of HRP Equestrian
Helen Ross tells the story behind HRP Equestrian and explains how she overcame the challenges that come with setting up a business.
Helen has been nominated for the BQ Festival's Emerging Entrepreneur of the Year award. Book your tickets now by clicking here!
Tell us about your business, what does it do?
HRP Equestrian is a luxury Irish Equestrian brand and inventors of the scientifically tested HRP Wing saddle pads. Tests have proven that HRP Wings exert NO pressure on the horse behind the saddle, over the lumbar spinous processes and significantly less mean pressure in all gaits when compared to conventional saddle pads. Conventional saddle pads produce some pressure, causing rubbing and sores on the horses back. HRP Wings have eliminated these problems through its innovative design.
What did you do before you started this business?
Before I started HRP Equestrian, I was a single mother doing everything I could to look after my son Hugo who was diagnosed with a life threatening multiple airway malacia called Tracheobronchomalacia. This condition means that his airways are too narrow and floppy and it is unsafe for him to swallow food and drink as it could penetrate his airways. It became especially bad when he would lie down to sleep, as he would stop breathing. The only way he could rest was for me to hold him upright all night, every night.
What inspired you to start up?
I realised I couldn’t stare at four walls every night and decided I needed a distraction so turned to my passion for horses. I decided to solve a problem my horse was experiencing. My horse was acting like she was in pain and discomfort when being ridden. I sourced old saddle pads and started altering them to trial a variety of alternative designs. That was how I came up with two core ideas, the dual wing and a mono version.
How would you describe your business to a novice?
A business that has created a revolution for the Equestrian industry.
Where do you get advice, support or help?
I have always used my own initiative, as I believe that there is no one that knows your business or what your ambitions are better than yourself.
Finance is one of the most common barriers to starting up. How did you access the finance you needed?
When I first started HRP Equestrian, I started it from the ground up. Everything for HRP was created from scratch. As a lover for horses I have loads of old, unused saddle pads, which I alternated to trial. After many shapes and designs I created the concept of the ‘winged’ design. No two horses have the same conformation and by introducing the wing design it enabled the pad to be fitted a huge range of horses. I had overwhelmingly positive feedback from individuals who trailed the saddle pad and went about launching HRP in spring 2014.
What has been your biggest achievement so far?
My biggest achievement would be designing something myself that has allowed horses to move freely without pinching or chafing. The results from Equine Scientist, Dr David Marlin and leading equine Science Lecturers Victoria Lewis and Lucy Dumbell that the HRP wings had totally eliminated pressure directly behind the lumbar spinous process has been an amazing outcome. HRP Equestrian has become an international award-winning business.
How do you differentiate your business from others?
My business is different from others for the reason that when the HRP Wings were created, it was something that nobody else had thought of before. They have now become a revolution for the Equestrian industry.
What’s it like to be your own boss?
When you are your own boss it gives you the opportunity to live life on your own terms and have the freedom to do work that you are really passionate about. It has also made me extremely determined to push through any barriers or setbacks.
Where do you see your business in 5 years time?
Through strong goal setting and staying on track I believe that in 5 years time HRP Equestrian saddle pads will be an internationally used product. The future is bright and there are more exciting new products in the pipeline all ready for scientific testing.
What advice would you give to aspiring entrepreneurs?
You have to keep challenging yourself and stay patient, but you cannot fail by doing something you really believe in.
Why did you enter the BQ Emerging Entrepreneur Awards?
I entered the BQ awards as I believe that through the revolutionary work I have done I fit the profile for the award.
What would it mean to you to win an award?
It would mean a huge amount as it would be recognition for the hard work I have done with HRP Equestrian over the years.
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