For a lifelong passionate and professional rider, who has represented Great Britain in the sport of dressage; being told you have suffered an injury so severe that you should never ride again, could signify an ending.
For Sarah Cheetham, however, it was the start of a new beginning.
The Founder and Managing Director of competitive equestrian clothing brand, and Musto partner, Flying Changes, tells us how she overcame her biggest challenge and went on to become a ‘Master in her Field’
It all started with a gap in the market. In 2011 the International Federation for Equestrian Sports (FEI) relaxed the rules for competitive clothing. Previously riders had only been allowed to wear navy or black when performing otherwise they risked disqualification.
Then in 2012, Cheetham suffered a serious injury. After years of riding at such a high level, the constant impact of riding “some very naughty horses” had caused several fractures in her lower spine. The doctors all agreed that Cheetham should never ride again.
Cheetham, however, did not agree at all, and she still rides today. But she did take a year out of competitive riding in order to heal. During this time, she seized the opportunity to launch her business idea.
In 2012, Flying Changes was founded. But it was not the most conventional start.
Now Flying Changes jackets are worn by most of the top competitive riders in the world, including Charlotte Dujardin CBE, Carl Hester MBE, Sophie Wells MBE, Olympian Kitty King and GBR Show Jumper Amanda Derbyshire. Cheetham attributes the success to three things.
With over 25 years of competitive riding and working in the industry, there are very few who know more than Cheetham about equestrian clothing. That’s why top riders around the world, including Team GBR, trust only Flying Changes to kit them out for the most important competitions of their lives. In a sport that relies on presentation and confidence, competitors must be able to rely on their kit.
Since it was founded, Flying Changes has undergone rapid growth. To manage this, Cheetham outsourced production to a German company that takes all the measurements from a computer and uses automated lasers to cut the designs. This ensures total precision, a fundamental factor when producing equestrian clothing at a highly competitive level. It also creates efficiency, enabling the company to grow with increasing customer demand.
Although the FEI regulations have relaxed in some respects, all the jackets produced by Cheetham and her team must adhere to the rules.
Acknowledging tradition whilst adopting a technical, contemporary approach to clothing is also central to Musto, and just one of the reasons why partnering with Flying Changes makes perfect sense. We also share the fundamental belief that the athlete must remain at the heart of our designs. That’s why Musto always seeks like-minded brands to collaborate with in order to deliver world-class products and expertise.
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