A CHESTER entrepreneur has launched a revolutionary piece of equipment to make horse riding safer.

Laurie Williams, based in Christleton, has created Free Reins for the equestrian market.

While running her equestrian business Laurie, founder of Free Reins and currently studying for a BSc in equine science, saw riders becoming entangled in their reins while falling and when operating gates while mounted.

After speaking to parents and instructors who’d experienced the same thing, Laurie realised conventional reins were an issue that could and should be improved.

Free Reins is a new safety rein system that is designed to put rider and horse welfare first, helping to prevent entanglement. The quick release connector is the only rein on the market designed to unclip automatically when sufficient force is applied, allowing the reins to come apart and release the horse or rider.

The Free Reins package. Picture: Dan Holbrook.

The Free Reins package. Picture: Dan Holbrook.

Once the connector, which replaces the traditional rein buckle, has activated and the risk to horse and rider has been avoided, the reins can simply be reassembled and are safe to ride in again.

Laurie said: “From our recent survey in partnership with Dr David Marlin, 61 per cent of horse riders had experienced a horse or pony catch its reins on an object.

"There is no doubt in my mind there is a need for Free Reins, it was on observing a fall where a child became caught in their reins that I came up with the concept and so started three years of development.

"I’m so delighted with the Free Reins product! It is really important to me to make riding as safe as possible for both the rider and the horse without compromising on style."

Laurie Williams, founder of Free Reins.

Laurie Williams, founder of Free Reins.

The Free Reins safety system has been subject to extensive testing at AMRC Cymru, part of the University of Sheffield Advanced Manufacturing Research Centre’s network of cutting-edge research and development facilities. Its experts extensively tested the safety product at its state-of-the-art advanced manufacturing facility in Broughton.

Dr David Marlin, equine scientist, added: “Safety is incredibly important when it comes to being around or riding horses. Somethings happen rarely but may take less than a second for something to go badly wrong.

"A horse or rider getting caught in its reins is one of those events. We support innovation and science-backed products and this appears to be a well designed product that we hope will decrease injury risk for both horses and riders.”

Mark McCourt, one of only two Elite showjumping coaches in the UK, said: “This innovation will solve safety issues for both horse and rider - safety is paramount. Over the years I've seen a lot of accidents of riders falling off, they keep hold of the reins or pull off the bridle.

"It's really important that we have safety devices, like Free Reins, which will help protect the riders and prevent accidents. Free Reins is a great product for every level of horse rider, especially for those who hack and are young or inexperienced."

For more information on Free Reins, visit www.freereins.co.uk or follow #FreeReins on Instagram, Facebook or TikTok.